By Nicole Reino
Building a healthy eating plan doesn’t have to be confusing or overly restrictive—it just requires an easy-to-remember strategy. Use these simple tips to make a lasting change and discover the clarity that nutritious food brings to your mind and body.
Whenever you’re making a major lifestyle adjustment, think about it as a number of smaller, manageable steps rather than one, drastic change. For example, make it a goal to eat a salad for dinner at least one night a week. Or try honey in place of refined sugar in your morning coffee.
Write Down Your Plan
You might have every intention of adding more fruit to your diet and eating out less each week. But unless you write down a plan as to how you’re actually achieve those two goals, it may be tough to make it happen.
Your overall diet will be much healthier if you cook at home more. When you eat out, you have less control over the ingredients and sizes. Plus, the cost of a homemade meal is much less than the cost of a meal at a restaurant.
Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is eating with intention and attention, also commonly known as intuitive eating. When you eat, set your intention to the nourishment of your body, and your attention to the enjoyment of food and how it affects your body. To eat with intention and attention, it’s critical to set aside time for eating. When you eat while driving, working or watching TV, you’re more likely to overeat or eat the wrong things. Focus your thoughts on the food you eat, and you’ll gain its maximum benefits.
Eat Until You’re 80 Percent Full
The southern Japanese Okinawa islands – nicknamed the land of the immortals – are reported to have the oldest demographic in the world, and researchers believe it’s due to diet. They practice a principle called “Hara Hachi Bu,” which means, “eat until you’re 80 percent full,” according to Michael Pollen, author of In Defense of Food. Research has shown that eating less can ward off diseases and offset the effects of aging. Try it out. If your practicing mindful eating, you’ll naturally be eating slower and therefore more able to determine when your 80 percent full.
Focus on Whole Foods
Whole foods come from nature and have been minimally processed. Think fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, eggs, meat, poultry and fish. Following a whole food diet involves maximizing your nutrient intake from there natural sources and avoiding nutrient-poor processed foods. Be centering your diet on whole foods, you’ll eat healthier fats, carbs and proteins, and get more nutrients.
Reduce your Refined Sugar and Salt Intake
Many packaged foods are laden with sugar and salt. Sugar can cause spikes in blood sugar, inflammation and weight gain. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and other health problems, such as kidney disease. If you center your diet on whole foods, you will naturally eat less sugar and salt.