The spring is getting closer if you’re living in the Northern Hemisphere and you might just have realized you gain some weight during long, cold (and full with holidays) winter season. Or, perhaps something happened and made you become more aware of the importance of eating healthier. Dieting and adopting healthier eating habits are not easy tasks, but they are not nearly as hard as most people think. The truth is, you don’t have to make brutal changes, nor rob a bank to have enough money for healthier alternatives; even small tweaks to your lifestyle and diet could actually make a significant difference. I’ve got 9 absolutely simple, yet effective little fixes to make losing those extra pounds and eating healthier easy and affordable for you.
1 – Shop carefully
In almost any supermarket, the center aisles are reserved for highly processed foods, while the outer aisles are loaded with sea food, dairy and the fresh produce. Whenever it’s possible, avoid the center of the store. If you’re uncertain whether certain food is “healthy” or so highly processed it hurts, read the labels. You don’t have to eliminate all processed foods, and in fact, it’s alright to eat a bag of chips occasionally, but most of the times opt for the products with simpler and fewer ingredients. For example, avoid artificial colors and flavors, hydrogenated oils, high amounts of added sugar, sodium and fat.
Never shop without a list, because it’s the only way to fight impulse buys. Another clever advice is not to shop if you are hungry. If you still can’t control yourself, order your food online. With discount codes, you can even save some money while preventing yourself from buying unhealthy snacks.
Keep in mind that you can’t eat what you don’t buy, therefore shopping wisely and carefully is number one advice you should follow.
2 – Prepare & Store
Once you’ve purchased healthy foods, you should eat them. One of the reasons why people, when they’re hungry, grab unhealthy processed foods is the convenience. If it takes time to tow, wash and chop something, you might not be motivated to choose it once you open your fridge. So, when you come back from the supermarket, you could prepare and store your veggies and fruits in glass containers in the fridge so they can be ready for you later when you feel like grabbing a bite.
3 – Home Cooking
Whenever it’s convenient for you, cook at home. This is one of the easiest ways to eat healthier and save money. Most restaurants use highly processed food when creating their meals and it’s usually difficult to measure the portion size when you’re not at home. In order to make it easier for you to cook at home, it would be wise to master simple dishes with several healthy ingredients you would be able to whip up very quickly.
4 – Spice It Up
Every nutritionist will suggest eating more vegetables and I couldn’t agree more. But, for most people steamed vegetables are a little bit boring, am I right? This is one of the reasons why healthy is equated with tasteless. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be like that. Use spices and herbs, as well as virgin oils to jazz up your vegetables.
5 – Goodbye Soda
Ditching soft drinks is one of the simplest ways to lose a few pounds. And, yes, say no to “diet” soda drinks too; although they aren’t rich in calories, they contain artificial sweeteners which could even stimulate human appetite. The best and the healthiest solution is to drink water whenever you feel thirsty; as a matter of fact, it’s the most refreshing drink in the world.
6 – Lunch is Important
We all know that we shouldn’t skip breakfast, but it’s wise to eat a fullfiling lunch too. In fact, most people aren’t hungry enough to eat the biggest meal of the day as soon as they open their eyes, but somewhere around noon. However, don’t get confused about the phrase “the biggest meal”; it doesn’t mean “unhealthy and fatty”. You should eat proteins (lean meat, seafood, egg whites, lentils…) and fresh greens. It’s the way to give your body the fuel it needs when it needs it without feeling stuff.
7 – Stop Feeling Guilty
The food is what humans use as a fuel, but we can’t turn a blind eye and pretend it isn’t a pleasure as well. Eating should be enjoyable, not the time to judge yourself and feel guilty. If you think only about the number on the scale, you are more likely to become depressed and actually overeat. So, try hard to make good food choices, but if you occasionally fail don’t be hard on yourself.
8 – Think about Colors not Calories
Eating colorful meal isn’t only aesthetically pleasing, but healthier too. The most colorful foods are certainly fruits and veggies. When you, to put it that way, “eat the rainbow”, you load your body with necessary nutrients and antioxidants. In addition to helping your body fight diseases and premature aging, you will also cut on the calories if you eat a lot of (naturally) green, red, yellow, orange and purple foods. Eating colorful meals will also make you feel filled up and you won’t crave unhealthy food options.
Talking about calories, counting them is probably the worst thing you can do to your health. Just because something isn’t rich in calories or has “diet” label, doesn’t mean it’s good to eat. Being aware of calories is alright, but focus on the quality not the quantity.
9 – Make a Plan
If you’re very hungry, chances are you’ll enter a restaurant and order something that looks delicious, weather it’s healthy or not. Although preparing your meals at home is a better option, sometimes you simply don’t have enough time or energy to cook and you have to rely on the restaurants menu, I know. But, if you plan beforehand what you’ll eat once it’s time to have a lunch, you have far better chances of maintaining your figure and staying healthy. Choose a meal that will complement other meals you’ve planned for that day. For example, if you’ve had pancakes for a breakfast, steer clear of starches for lunch.