The most infamous of all New Year’s resolutions is pledging to develop healthier eating habits. With all the holiday indulgence causing feelings of guilt, many people really do manage to maintain a healthier lifestyle for the first few weeks of the new year. However, more often than not, after a few weeks most people resort to their old habits and find themselves at the bottom of a pint of ice cream. If you have resolved to eat healthier this year, the best way to uphold your resolution is to have a plan in place. Below are some tips for ensuring 2018 is the year you make a change.
Eat Colorful Meals
You want your plate to have a variety of colors, meaning that you incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables into each meal. This will not only make your dishes look visually appealing, but it also ensures you get a variety of vitamins and minerals with each bite.
Mindful eating means paying attention as you eat rather than focusing on distractions, such as watching television or browsing the internet while you consume your meal. When you pay attention to your food you will feel more satisfied, be more likely to tell when you are full, and ultimately make healthier choices.
Chew each bite slowly and intentionally. Usually it takes twenty minutes for your brain to signal that you are actually full, so if you scarf down your entire meal in ten minutes, you are likely to eat more food than you actually need. Furthermore, chewing your food more thoroughly will aid with digestion.
Avoid Stress Eating
For many people, food is comforting when we are under stress. Whether it’s reading a good book, going out for a spa day, or exercising at the gym, it is important to find an outlet for your stress that is not food related.
Check the Ingredients Labels
Whether you are trying to limit your sugar or sodium, or looking to avoid unhealthy additives, the ingredients label is your new best friend. Packaged foods often contain a lot of sneaky preservatives and evaluating the ingredients label can help you make better decisions. When in doubt about an item, a good general rule is to look for foods with a short list of ingredients because this means they likely contain natural ingredients.
Cooking is not only a fun activity, but it also allows you to decide exactly what goes into your body. Oftentimes, you can modify your favorite meals and make them much healthier than if you were to eat them at a restaurant.
Avoid Starvation Mode
Oftentimes when we go too long without eating we become ravenous at our next meal. This in turn leads to some not-so-healthy cravings and food binges. Try to plan for snacks in between meals so that you don’t overdo it at your next meal.
Most people overestimate a portion size and overeat without even knowing it. Do not be afraid to whip out your measuring cups or food scale to give yourself an accurate portion. You may be surprised by what you learn.
Use Smaller Plates
Another way to help control your portion sizes is to use smaller dishes. When you see a normal portion on a smaller plate it tricks your brain into believing you are eating a larger amount of food.
Eat your calories, do not drink them. If you are aiming for a smaller calorie goal this year, you will be more satisfied if those calories come entirely from food. Besides, water is extremely important for your health and you can drink as much as you want without it affecting your calorie count. Furthermore, drinking water before and during your meals can help keep your hunger in check.
Many of us resort to high-calorie takeout or fast food options because when hunger strikes, we want something fast and without the hassle of pots and pans. Instead of sacrificing your health, devote one day a week to meal prepping. You can simply cook large amounts of food and divide it into smaller portions for you to store and then gradually eat throughout the week.
Preview the Menu
Before dining out, look at the menu in advance so you can have a game plan in place. Having a chance to fully evaluate your options will prevent you from making a spur of the moment decision that could sabotage your health goals. If after looking at the menu, there is a dish that appeals to you but does not align with your goals, ask your server to only bring out half the dish and save the other half for tomorrow.
Do Not Dwell on Mistakes
Eating should be a positive experience. You cannot be successful if you constantly deprive yourself of the foods you love. As long as you eat well 80% of the time, it is okay to let go at times and indulge. Healthy eating — like the rest of life — is all about balance.