9 ways to eat healthier
Get rid of your ‘good foods’ and ‘bad foods’ mentality.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recently released their position on a total diet approach. The approach is based on overall eating patterns that, over time, average out to a well- balanced diet providing the adequate amount of nutrients needed for a complete dietary intake.
Today’s focused dichotomy of “good” and “bad” foods can actually cause people to abandon attempts to make healthier dietary lifestyle changes. In 2011, 82% of adults gave the excuse of not eating healthier because they refused to give up foods they liked.
Rather than focusing on what foods to eat, here are nine tips and tricks to eat healthier that focus on the diet as a whole.
- Eat in moderation:
It’s important to incorporate the foods you like into your diet. Every individual has their own taste due to age, ethnicity and experiences. Cutting something completely out of your diet will most likely result in failure. Instead of getting rid of favorite foods or treats, try limiting the frequency or amount of which you have them in your diet.
- Eat mindfully:
Whether you’re going out to eat, grabbing a bag of chips to study or reaching for that tub of ice cream after a hard day, ask yourself, is this a physical or emotional hunger? Physical hunger is about a 3-4 on this scale; when you finish eating, you should be around a 5-6 on the scale.
Emotional hunger will be a sudden urge to fulfill a craving, you will end up eating more than you normally do and are often left feeling guilty afterwards. Understand why you’re eating , is it because you’re really hungry, or is it to make you feel better? The goal is to find out what triggers the emotional hunger and avert it the next time around.
Stressed from studying? Dance to a favorite song or call a friend. Had a bad test? Watch one episode of your favorite show, and write down a list of what you can improve to study better for the next test. Find what works for you.
- Prepare meals in advance:
Busy during the week? Plan out meals to take with you on the days you know you’re going to be too busy to grocery shop. This also gives you the chance to cut down on the amount of times you eat outside your house. Try baking a large batch of muffins for your breakfast during the week.
- Go to the farmers market:
Shop at the farmers market for in-season, fresh produce.) There is a misconception that farmers markets are expensive. According to a study conducted by NOFA, farmers market organic prices are actually cheaper than supermarkets, while conventional food prices are about the same.
- Avoid boiling vegetables
A 2009 study on the effects of different cooking methods on vegetable nutrient content found that boiling was the cooking method that resulted in the most nutritional loss in vegetables. This is most likely due to the nutrients leaking out into the water it is cooked in. Try roasting, steaming or sauteing instead.
- Turn produce into product
Fruits going soft? Freeze them for smoothies. Take bruising bananas and bake muffins. Get creative!
- Limit vegetable oils
According to the online newsletter Environmental Nutrition, experiments that fed oxidized vegetable oils to animals found that it can cause inflammation, brain cell damage, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The Telegraph states other researchers have found that heating vegetable oils produces high amounts of aldehydes, a chemical that has been linked to cancer, heart disease and dementia.
- Try to limit fried foods or the re-use of cooking oil.
- Keep vegetable oils in a cool, dark place – not by the stove.
- Use butter, olive oil or coconut oil instead.
- Have a trusting partner
Having a great support system is pivotal to making dietary changes. Find someone who will support your dietary changes without shaming you when you don’t always follow them. It is important that they understand what your goals are and will be supportive of you regardless of your progress.
- Is it working for you?
Food affects every individual differently. Find what works for your body. If you think something is making you feel bad, try taking it out of your diet for a while and see if it helps. If your current diet or eating pattern is working for you and overall you’re healthy, great! It is up to you to decide how you want to alter your diet but keep the big picture in mind.
Try to focus less on good and bad food labeling and more on your diet as a whole, with the goal being a nutrient-dense, balanced diet.