Most people have a strong desire to live a healthier lifestyle, which usually entails maintaining a wholesome diet. However, eating healthy is a life-long commitment, which can be a challenge to stick to when busy schedules and fast food options interfere with your best intentions to eat properly. Healthy eating is not about strict dietary limitations and depriving yourself of food. It is about feeling more energetic and stabilizing your mood. The question is how do you break unhealthy eating habits? Gradually incorporating healthy eating patterns into your daily life can make the change less traumatic and more lasting. Here are six strategies that can help you eat well no matter the circumstance.
Plan your meals ahead of time.
Start by creating a shopping list each week and purchase all of the ingredients for your recipes before the work week starts. The next step is to choose a few days each week to cook and prepare meals including chopping vegetables, making sauces and marinades, and cooking brown rice and other whole grains in advance.
Keep a food journal.
Create accountability for what you put inside your body by maintaining a food journal. Writing down what you eat will help you take a critical look at your food habits and make changes that benefit your health. However, food journaling is not about counting calories; it is about being mindful of the patterns in your eating.
Buy healthy snacks.
When you are pressed for time and need a small bite to hold you over for your next meal, healthy snacks are your best option. Stock your kitchen and fridge with snacks that you can quickly grab-and-go such as apples, pears, oranges, peaches, plums, carrots celery, and hummus. If you plan ahead, you can create DIY Lunchable snacks (e.g. fruit salad, homemade granola, fruit and yogurt, dark chocolate and nuts, almonds and dried fruit) stored in small containers.
Never food shop when hungry.
One of the best ways to sabotage healthy eating habits is to food shop on an empty stomach. When you are hungry, it becomes harder to resist junk-food options lining the shelves of the grocery store. The best way to avoid this scenario is to carry healthy grab-and-go snacks with you at all times.
Eat small frequent meals.
Did you know that eating small frequent meals can help you balance your blood sugar? Unbalanced blood sugar levels leave you susceptible to developing metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, diabetes and gaining extra weight.
Eating small meals or snacks that are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats are the best way to keep you full until your next meal. Instead of eating refined carbohydrates found in cakes, cookies and ice cream try snacking on filling snacks like hummus and vegetables, plain Greek yogurt, peanut butter and celery.
You can eat foods that are rich in heart-healthy fats like avocados and nuts like almonds and walnuts. These foods will keep you feel full longer and can help tone down inflammation. Fiber and protein rich foods balance your blood sugar by slowing down the release of sugars into the blood and provide you with energy over an extended period of time.
Eat small portions of lean protein and fiber.
Portion sizes are getting larger, and these extra calories are increasing inflammation, unwanted weight gain, diabetes and heart disease. Did you know that distracted eating and eating out with others can lead to overeating? Instead, practice mindful eating; take the time to chew your food and make sure that you are drinking enough water.
The most important tool in eating healthy when you’re eating on the run is planning. Taking time to prepare meals and snacks in advance will help you eat healthy even when you are busy.