When fast food is everywhere, maintaining a healthy diet feels impossible. Here are our top tips for choosing the healthiest option wherever you are.
For the most part, we know what it means to eat healthy. MyPlate (the government’s tool to help you visualize what a healthy meal looks like) and MyPyramid (the new and improved food pyramid) aren’t hard to understand, but it can be hard to stick to them.
The rules are simple: aim for seven servings of fruit and vegetables every day, and top that with lean protein, whole grains and dairy. This mix packs a punch with a plethora of calcium, fiber, and antioxidants, if you can stick to it. Because we know that eating healthy can be challenging, here are some tips for staying healthy at home and while you’re out and about.
1. Stay Hydrated
This isn’t surprising advice, but it is surprisingly hard to do even though there are perks abound. Water makes you feel fuller, which means that you eat less. It also keeps your skin clear and maintains hydration, which fights fatigue. Oh, and it normally costs nothing. The hardest thing is remembering to do it, so make it part of your routine.
Buzzfeed suggests DIY-ing your bottle and adding ‘timelines’ so you can know how much you should be drinking throughout the day. If you find water bland, make it a little more flavorful by adding fruit or herbs.
2. Get Your Greens on
Aim to fill half of your plate with fruits and veggies at every meal. Take inspiration from these Country Living vegetarian recipes and commit to Meatless Mondays to put the spotlight on veggies. Dishes that focus on the vegetables like salads and stir-fries are a great way to put color and variety into every dish. Reproduce the rainbow in your plating design for a fancy and healthy dish.
3. Watch those Carbs Smartly
Although carbohydrates are an essential part of any diet, much of their energy doesn’t get used, which means it will be stored as fat. To this end, a low-carb lifestyle has become popular, but don’t get carried away. Before you consider cutting them out altogether, think about eating better carbs. Authority Nutrition says that certain starches, found in foods like potatoes, cashews and raw oats are resistant to digestion and improves metabolic health.
4. Ween Yourself off Sugar
According to Livestrong, the average American eats around 22 teaspoons of sugar per day, over twice the recommended dose of nine. Sugar affects the brain like a drug, in that you can build up a tolerance and will need more and more sugar for your sweet tooth. Livestrong recommends opting for homemade food instead of processed, incrementally reducing sugar and sweeteners in coffee and other drinks, and opting for water (tip number 1!) instead of soda or fruit drinks.
5. Have a Fiber-Full Breakfast
One of the easiest ways to ramp up fiber intake is to select a cereal which has seven grams or more. That way you’ve met your fiber quota all in one bowl and you’re ahead before you’ve even finished breakfast. Fiber isn’t just for staying regular, it can actually cancel out calories. Naturally Savvy says that upping fiber intake “helps control the insulin spike caused by eating refined carbohydrates.”
6. Snack, But Snack Well
Dips in sugar levels have us all reaching for the cookie jar, so it is important to proactively manage hunger pangs. Carefully planned snacking maintains energy levels and reduces the desire to make bad food choices. So carry some carrot sticks and hummus, Greek yogurt, or an apple and avoid the vending machine when hunger strikes!
7. Keep it up When Eating Out
Restaurants can be a disaster for your good intentions. Alongwith the delicious smells and a growling stomach, peer pressure can easily rear its head and derail your progress. To stay in control, try checking the menu online and deciding on a healthy option before you go. That way, you can make a good choice without feeling like all eyes are on you.
8. Go Nuts!
Well, in moderation. An ounce at a time of these protein-packed snacks gives you good fats, vitamin E and more. Eat This! (of Eat This Not That fame) likes Brazil nuts, pistachios, and almonds for weight loss and advises single serving bags, which are ideal for keeping in a desk drawer or purse.
9. Watch Salt Levels
We know too much is bad for your heart, but the American Heart Association wants to remind you that salt can also cause problems like water retention. Because a bulk of Americans get a bulk of their salt from eating processed foods, try your hand at homemade pizza instead of frozen for family pizza night and step away from the frozen dinner aisle.
10. Combinations are Key
According to Danielle Omar, a registered dietician, the ideal snack is either ‘protein and produce’ or protein and carbs together. Omar suggests options like watermelon, feta, and spinach and sliced avocado with cherry tomatoes — with options like that, maybe snacking isn’t so hard. Carbs alone process into sugar too quickly and don’t always get burnt off. The protein helps you stay fuller for longer while the produce or carb option give you an immediate energy boost.
11. Calories Contained
Denying yourself sweets like ice cream is only going to lead to food cravings and frustration. Instead, have some of that Haagen Daz, but serve up a sensible portion. Eating it straight from the tub is asking for trouble! Use a ramekin or small dish and stop before you’re full!
Eating well is a very important step to staying healthy, but if you still have questions about your health, SingleCare can provide affordable access to healthcare providers when you need them. SingleCare is not insurance, which means there are no co-pays, pre-authorizations, or monthly fees. It’s an easy, convenient and affordable way to see the doctor you need at a price that won’t make you sick!
(Main image credit: Fuse/Thinkstock)