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Healthy Eating – 6 Small Changes To Try Today

We know sticking to a healthy eating plan can be hard. That’s especially true now, after months of dealing with a pandemic  Maybe you’re tired of cooking, it’s easier to just order out, and reaching for premade (often unhealthy) meals may be what’s getting you through.

We get it.  But even with all those challenges, it’s more important than ever to keep our strength up and to nourish our bodies with healthy foods.

We’re entering into the new year and a vaccine is in sight. So whether you’re looking to just improve your health, or you’re  anticipating actually heading out in public in a swimsuit this summer, here are some easy ways to improve your eating habits, maintain a healthy weight, and get the nutrients your body needs.

Ways To Eat Healthy

  1. Avoid processed foods.

    We’ve all heard the advice to avoid processed foods, and it’s pretty much a no brainer.  And yet, it’s really, really hard. We live in a society where we’re constantly on the go, and seemingly busier each and every day. And at the end of the day, it’s sometimes just easier to reach for that bag of chips, frozen pizza, or pack of cookies.

    But processed foods don’t contain all the nutrients that whole foods do. And they’re often chock full of additives that are bad for you. Make it a point to limit the amount of processed foods you eat on a weekly basis, and incorporate as many whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables as possible.

  2. Meal Plan

    A common reason that so many of us reach for those processed foods we mentioned above is because they are easy, especially when we’re rushing to get dinner on the table. But a little planning ahead can help set you up for success throughout the week.

    Plan out your meals and do as much meal prep ahead of time as possible so that when you’re ready to do your cooking, it’s all set to go. Chop up any veggies you might need for your meals or snacks, cook a large pot of rice or beans  to use throughout the week, marinate any meat that you may be having in the next couple of days, or even cook up a couple of chicken breasts to throw in a soup or on top of a salad or pasta.  The more you can plan ahead and make it easy for yourself, the more likely you’ll be to stick to your healthy eating plan.

    You can also prep your snacks in advance. There’s nothing worse than coming home starving and find yourself reaching for that bag of chips because it’s the easiest option. Change this by making premade snacks and storing them for later. Portion out small bags of nuts and dried fruit. Cut up carrots, celery and red pepper into strips and keep some light ranch dressing or hummus on hand. Cut up an apple at the beginning of the day and eat with a tablespoon of peanut butter. Making it easier for you to reach for healthy snacks throughout the day will help you stay away from unhealthy food choices.

  3. Try to incorporate more  fruit and vegetables into your diet each day.

    The USDA recommends that adults get 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day. This may feel like a lot, but if you’re strategic, you can work these numbers into your diet.  Throw a handful of spinach and some frozen berries into your morning smoothie. Grab an orange or a cup of carrots for a snack. Have a salad alongside your lunch or dinner. And try to incorporate more veggies into your main dishes.

    Worried about the cost? The good news is that it’s not hard to eat healthy on a budget. You don’t need to always buy fresh fruit or veggies – frozen and canned, and dried all work well too. Use a variety to offset the cost, and pay attention to what’s in season, as those items will usually be less expensive.

  4. Stick to slow burning carbs, with a low glycemic index.

    Carbs tend to get a bad rap, but not all carbs are bad. The difference is the rate at which they release glucose into the bloodstream.

    Carbs that release glucose quickly are called fast-burning carbs and those that release glucose more slowly are called slow-burning carbs.  Slow burning carbs, those with a low glycemic index help keep your blood sugar more stable, help improve blood flow, keep you feeling full, and can help you maintain a healthy weight.

    So what are these slow burning carbs? Again, you’ll want to reach for whole foods like whole grains and fiber rich foods. Some examples are:

    • Quinoa

    • Vegetables

    • Fruit

    • Nuts and nut butters

    • Legumes

    • Dairy (but try to keep it low fat)

    • Whole grain breads

    • Whole grains, such as oats, barley, and millet

  5. Stay Hydrated.

    Ensure that you’re drinking enough water to stay hydrated. Not only does this keep the functions in your body running well, it can keep hunger at bay, making it a good weight loss strategy.  In fact, many people often mistake being thirsty as being hungry, prompting them to eat more. Staying hydrated also keeps you feeling energized and makes it easier to make healthy food choices.

    Help yourself remember to drink up by trying these tricks:

    • Buy a fancy new water bottle. Keeping your water nearby will help remind you to keep sipping throughout the day.

    • Set a goal for how much you want to drink each day.

    • Use an app to help remind you to drink throughout the day.

  6. Read Labels.

    Understanding and reading food labels is an important part of a healthy diet.  Reading the labels of the foods you buy will help you to compare different versions and allow you to make wise choices around what you eat. It’s often hard to tell the nutrition make up from the packaging, and many companies use marketing or confusing jargon that may not reveal the full picture of what is actually in the food you’re buying.

    Make sure to read labels – look at portion sizes, calories, fat content, carbs and vitamin content.

    Read up on how to evaluate food labels in this guide from the National Institute on Aging.

Healthy eating can be a challenge. But with the right planning and consistency, you’ll find yourself making healthier food choices.

Do you have any tips you use to eat healthy? Share them with us in the comments below!

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