Making Eating Healthy Work For You

Making Eating Healthy Work For You

Fast Track Guide: Making Eating Healthy a Part of Your Every Day Life

Eating healthy, as part of your everyday life is the best way to reach any health goal you have for yourself. If you look at eating healthy as a diet with an ending, you’ll never be able to stick to your goals for the long term. The following tips and tricks to help you eat healthy as part of your daily life and ensure that you reach your goals today as well as in the future. By doing this, you’ll be able to live a happy, healthy, long life void of deprivation and struggle.

Prepare Your Own Meals 

The more you take charge of preparing your meals, the healthier you’ll be. If you don’t know how to cook, a meal delivery option can help you stay on track. When you cook for yourself, you control what goes in your recipes and swap out less healthy ingredients for more healthy ingredients.

In all honesty, preparing food at home doesn’t take long and is often a lot tastier than when you eat out. There are healthy meal delivery programs that deliver the raw ingredients and provide cooking directions. ThePurpleCarrot.com has healthy vegan options and Helofresh.com has more fresh options. There are many options today. Just do a Google Search for “meal prep delivery services” in your area to see what’s available.

Some areas also have grocery delivery options. This is a great if you already have recipes. You don’t even need to go shopping. Staying out of the grocery store may also help you save money as well as avoid unhealthy, last minute purchases. You may also want to try out shipt.com and others. Just do a search for “Grocery Delivery in Your Area” to see if you have that yet.

Plan for Dining Out

Everyone eats out and goes to parties. You don’t need to give that up. Part of eating healthy is also enjoying the delicious abundance of “not so healthy” foods out there on special occasions. But Friday night is not a special occasion. Your birthday is, your wedding is, and so are the holidays. The trick is to make the special meals and/or day truly special by limiting it to that time.

If you must eat out on a regular basis, choose places that offer healthy foods as well as healthy cooking methods. You can always opt to skip the dressing or ask for dressing on the side. The salads at many restaurants are large so if you get a dinner salad with roasted chicken, eggs, and so forth, the best thing to do is ask for a to-go box right away. Put the extra protein, fat, and all the processed carbs in the to-go box or give to someone else. Keep the veggies. You can eat a lot more veggies than you can other macronutrients without issues.

Another option is side dishes. Many restaurants offer steamed broccoli. Get two servings and ask them to “hold” the oil or butter. Most restaurants will help you stick to your goals. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for what you want. Don’t listen to others who think you’re too difficult. If you’re paying for it, you have a right to get it the way you want. The restaurant will be happy to do it and the chef at “from scratch” places will love the challenge.

Call ahead, if you haven’t been to the restaurant before. They are usually more than willing to help you find suitable items on the menu. If there isn’t anything on the menu you should eat, you may be able to request and/or pre-order something suitable for your needs. If that isn’t an option, bring your own food. If it’s a lunch meeting, they’re probably won’t notice and even if they do, they’ll understand.

Make Healthy Substitutes

One way to enjoy your food is to think about the flavors you crave and then substitute a healthier form of that flavor. For example, you can make many different types of chicken wings. One way you can make them with is with baked chicken and use a low sugar sauce.

You can even make a dish from cauliflower that tastes similar to wings. The flavors matter most. Choose healthy ingredients to get the flavors you love based on your eating plan. You can find wonderful help online in Facebook groups based on your diet choice, whether it’s a balanced calorie plan, high carb plan, low-fat plan, or a ketogenic plan. There is one for almost every plan.

You can find substitute lists online too. Just look up “healthy substitute for (whatever)” you want to sub for. It’s amazing what you can by substituting ingredients. For example, instead of eating a rich sugary dessert full of fake ingredients you can create lovely desserts from fruit instead. Once you stop eating “added sugar,” you’ll be surprised how naturally sweet fruit tastes.

Keep it Simple

Don’t make things too hard on yourself. No matter which diet you chose to follow, keep it simple. You don’t need weird ingredients. You don’t even need to chop veggies, if you don’t want to, since you can buy pre-chopped veggies. Frozen food is just as good for you as “fresh” so don’t feel pressured to make it hard on yourself.

If you’ve never heard of the 80/20 rule, learn about it. It’ll change your life. In addition, consider reading The Compound Effect, by Daren Hardy. These two together are very powerful. Essentially the 80/20 rule says that you get 80 percent of your results from 20 percent of your efforts. In dieting, you can bet that if you’re perfect 80 percent of the time and not so perfect 20 percent of the time, you’ll still reap 100 percent of the rewards.

The compound effect essentially states that little changes that you barely notice add up to big results. For example, if you only lost 1 pound a week you’d lose 52 pounds a year. Even if you only lost 1 pound a month you’d lose 12 pounds a year which is perfectly fine when you’re trying to set yourself up to eat healthy for life so that it’s part of your life forever and not a temporary thing.

Also, meals don’t have to be elaborate to be healthy. You can make healthy meals in 20 minutes using simple to find ingredients, from almost any grocery store. You don’t need to stock up on “healthy” additives and extras that cost a lot of money and probably really aren’t that healthy.

Living a healthy lifestyle is about the little things. Eat an apple daily instead of a donut and you’re going to be healthier. It’s just a fact. You can still eat a donut on occasion once a month or less, but usually, you’re not going to want to after you’ve experienced the effects of eating fresh whole foods on your health and palate which will come to prefer healthy food over processed food.

Read Labels

Many food manufacturers love to slap something on the label that tricks you into thinking it’s healthy. Even if it’s “made like mom” or “natural” or a diet food doesn’t mean it’s healthy. It’s a good idea to avoid fads. It’s often discovered that the fad was not only unhealthy but also dangerous.

For example, soy is good for most people. But, you don’t need to go overboard. Eating too much soy is not good for you. All soy isn’t the same. In truth, soy is just a bean. Beans are good for you, but just because something contains soy doesn’t mean it healthy for you, such as highly processed cookies and bars.

When you read labels, you’ll start to learn the brands that do a better job making things in a simple manner. Also, read about reading labels so that you can learn about the tricky terms that brands use to hide ingredients that they know aren’t good for you. Even fresh chicken in your grocery store might contain additives that you don’t want. You’ll never know if you don’t read the labels and learn about the types of additives you want to avoid.

By avoiding these additives you’ll set yourself up for success because you won’t accidentally ingest something that triggers additional hunger (like MSG, and sugar) and you’ll feel a lot better which will also encourage you to stick to your healthy eating plan eventually making it part of your everyday life.

Stay Hydrated

It’s simple. Drink fresh, filtered water. How much you drink will vary depending on the weather, your weight, and your diet. If you eat a lot of raw fruit, it contains a lot of liquid, which will cut down on how much water you need.

If you eat a lot of meat, you’ll probably need to drink more water. Relatively speaking, meat contains very little water to help hydrate you, compared to fruits and vegetables. Another thing you may want to consider, if you enjoy a cup of caffeinated coffee each morning, is you’ll need to follow that up with a glass of water because caffeine is dehydrates you. If you exercise, you’ll also need more water.

On average, you should drink at least 64 ounces of fresh, filtered water a day. While sparkling water drinks are nice for a change, they’re not a substitute for fresh filtered water. Plus, some recent studies suggest that any type of carbonated water or beverage increases hunger and makes it harder for you to stick to healthy eating.

Eat When You’re Hungry

One of the biggest mistakes people make when embarking on eating healthy is to allow themselves to get too hungry. Hunger is good and will make your dinner taste better no matter what you’re eating. But, letting it go too long can also cause you to lose grip of your goals and fall off the wagon.

When you feel hungry whether that manifests as your stomach growling, feeling light-headed, nauseous, or other symptoms and it’s more than an hour from time to eat you should eat a small snack to tide you over if you’ve already eaten your other meals. Snack ideas depend on the diet you’ve decided to follow. It could consist of some cheese, a veggie roll, an apple, some berries, or even a small serving of lean turkey breast.

One way to figure out serving sizes, without having to measure, outside of getting smaller plates is to use your hand as your guide. The palm of your hand is a dinner sized serving of protein. Your thumb is the size of a piece of cheese. Whatever you can grab with your hand, without dropping it is a good serving size of fruit, such as low glycemic, fiber rich berries.

Try to balance your snack with protein, carbohydrate, and fat. It’ll last longer and you can eat less. Do you tend to get hungry between meals and physically feel bad? You might want to assess what you’re eating so that you can ensure that you are eating enough calories at each meal. One of the worst things you can do is get too hungry. You should be mouthwatering hungry at meal times, but keep control of it. You don’t want to get carried away at mealtime. It can cause binge eating and lessen your resolve to eat healthy, which really is the number one way to avoid temptations.

Balance is The Key

One mistake people make is that they try to eliminate food groups. However, you need certain things in your diet to be healthy, satiated, or satisfied, and to enjoy your meals. Instead of thinking of the food groups, think in terms of macronutrients.

Protein

Protein helps give you the energy to get through the day plus provides satiation so you don’t get hungry too fast after eating a meal. It also helps your body repair itself and rebuild itself.

It doesn’t matter what your protein preference is as much as that you eat the right amount per your calorie content and the type of plan you choose based on your health needs. In most cases, you should try to consume no more than 1.5 grams for each kilogram of body weight. The key here is to eat the amount for the body you want to have. So, if you weigh 220 pounds that is 100 Kilograms rounded up. This means that you should eat no more than 150 grams of protein each day.

If you want to weigh 135 instead of 220 then you’ll need to compute the math. Rounded down, 135 pounds is about 62 kilograms. Multiply that by 1.5 and you can eat up to 93 grams of protein per day.

Certain people may need more protein than others. For example, if you’re recovering from surgery or are pregnant, you may need 20 grams more protein than normal. Some people may need less protein. This is true of some people who have specific kidney issues. Be sure to talk to your health care professional to ensure that you’re not eating too much or too little protein.

The key is to choose healthy proteins. Legumes, lentils, lean skinless chicken breasts, fish, seafood, lean beef, low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, and soy are healthy depending upon you’re the type of diet you need. You can get plenty of protein as a vegan, vegetarian or carnivore. But, given the choice of a Slim Jim™ or roasted chicken, you know that roasted chicken is best. In general, the more natural your food is the better. However, as with pasteurized milk, some processes are important for health and safety.

Fat

Everyone needs a certain amount of fat in their diets. Fat helps keep your skin soft and your hair shiny. With the right type of fat, omega-3 fatty acids, it is also helpful for heart health. When it comes to fat, there is a lot of confusion out there. Eating whole foods that include healthy fat is not bad for you.

Focus on substituting unhealthy fats, including saturated fats and trans fats, with healthy fats found in vegetable oils and in whole food such as the fat in fish, a banana, avocado, nuts, and seeds.

  • Good Fat – Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats lower your risks of disease. However, that doesn’t mean you should add it in high quantities. Instead, measure carefully to avoid eating too much fat.
  • Bad Fat – Trans fats like those found in hydrogenated oils (and even some other products) are usually highly processed and should be completely avoided if possible. Read labels.
  • Saturated Fat – While this fat is still not considered good for you, it’s okay to eat some saturated fats but you should moderate food that is high in saturated fat like butter, cheese, and red meat. New studies also implicate coconut oil so keep a look out on that.

To stay healthy, you can go down to as low as 10 percent fat consumption in most cases and as high as 30 percent fat consumption but no more. The exception is if you’re on a special ketogenic diet due to health issues that require it. But the same thing holds true, only eat the healthier forms of fat don’t eat lard, and limit your bacon grease intake.

Carbohydrates

There is a war on carbohydrates but your body also needs healthy carbohydrates. In fact, for most balanced diets carbohydrates should make up 45 to 65 percent of your daily caloric intake according to the Mayo Clinic.

You can work with this depending on the plan you want to try and your health. However, the more you seek balance the easier it is to make healthy eating a part of your daily life. Even on the ketogenic diet, you should eat your veggies.

The big problem with carbohydrates is a large amount of processed food available for consumption in this category that hides as “health food” when it’s nothing more than a kick of sugar to the system without any nutrients.

The trick is to eat unprocessed carbohydrates like vegetables and low glycemic fruit with fiber-rich grains like oatmeal, brown and wild rice in moderation. When you set up your plate, focus on filling it with fresh vegetables rather than rice, for example.

Fiber

While most diets focus on the three micronutrients mentioned, protein, fat and carbohydrates fiber is very important. If you focus on choosing higher fiber carbohydrates, you’ll also get the benefit better digestion. It also can improve and prevent heart disease, type II diabetes, and skin health. Some studies show that it can be preventative in relation to colon cancer.

Fiber is plant based and everyone should be eating more of it. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It’s so good for you because it helps keep your blood pressure level, and is found in beans, nuts, and less fatty fruit.

The amount of fiber you need each day depends on your age and health but in general, an average adult should eat between 25 and 38 grams of fiber each day. This is easy to do, just choose higher fiber carbohydrates such as apples, oatmeal, and celery.

To calculate your fiber needs, determine your appropriate caloric intake and then use the following formula (Nutrition Reviews) you should divide your caloric needs by 1000 then multiply the answer by 14 grams. This is just an average, your medical professional or the diet you choose to follow can help you determine this.

Vitamins & Minerals

For the most part, you should seek to get all your vitamins and minerals through the food you consume. For example, if you’re lactose intolerant or vegan and don’t drink or eat dairy you may need to find other resources for calcium. It’s not hard to do because many other foods are rich in calcium like leafy greens. Soymilk may also be an option for you.

Today, due to the poor quality of our soil many people are discovering, despite their healthy diet, they’re showing poor numbers in blood work regarding their vitamin D and vitamin B12 levels. In this case, you should supplement. There are vegan and non-vegan choices for both vitamins. Many people aren’t getting enough potassium, iron, magnesium as well as other vitamins and minerals.

When you associate your diet with macro-nutrients instead of separate items like dairy, meat, vegetables, fruit, etc., you don’t feel forced to eat anything from a particular food group. You simply ensure that you’re getting enough macro-nutrients, whatever the source. This is also how chefs look at food in terms of flavor and protein, which enables them to take interesting ingredients and make them delicious. It’ll work for you too.

Control Your Portion Size

Scientific America reported on a few different studies that show that no matter which type of diet you’re on it’s all about calories in and calories out. However, the reason some people seem to eat whatever they want and stay thin and some don’t is genetics and the body’s basal metabolic rate or BMR.

You can get a test to determine your individual BMR via a medical professional but you can also use averages and then observe to see how that works for you. There are online calculators to help you such as this one on Active.com.

You can figure your BMR, which is how many calories you need to maintain a specific weight. This number is likely a lot higher than you think. It’s dangerous to eat fewer calories than this number. An example is a 5-foot 5-inch tall, 30-year-old female who weighs 145 pounds has (on average) a BMR of 1407. That means at rest she burns 1407 calories. Eating less than this would probably be dangerous and cause fast weight loss since, unless she only rests she probably burns more calories than that each day living her life off the couch.

The reason portions are so important is that plate size has grown substantially in the last few years. Which can explain why our average girth has also grown. For example, today most plates are 12 inches in diameter, whereas in the 1960’s the average plate was only 8.5 inches in diameter. This is a huge difference. Today’s plates hold an average of 1900 calories whereas the older plates held an average of 800 calories.

Get new plates that are the right size for one meal. This visual reminder can make a huge difference in your ability to eat healthy in your everyday life. Today you can buy portion-controlled plates, like these on Amazon.com.

Get Moving

Exercise alone will not help you lose weight. However, you can improve your chances of losing weight and sticking to a healthy lifestyle by adding movement into your day. If you’re healthy enough to walk, swim, or ride a bike these are three of the easiest and best exercises to incorporate into your life.

Add weight-bearing exercises if possible. They will help you avoid losing muscle mass. This doesn’t mean you must go to a gym and lift weights either. You can get resistant bands that enable you to do this right at home, in a hotel, or even during lunchtime at the office. Another exercise you should consider adding is Yoga or Pilates. Stretching exercises are great for your overall physical fitness and can help you avoid problems with your joints and back pain. Burning more calories will also help you enjoy a little extra food, if you’re in maintenance mode. But, don’t use exercise as an excuse to eat things that aren’t good for you. Rationalizing poor choices is counterproductive to your overall goal and can become a habit.

Getting Started

When you focus on small changes, eating a wide variety of food, staying hydrated, and moving, it’s going to be a lot easier to avoid temptations because nothing is off limits for life. It’s just not part of your daily life and it never should have been. It’s just a matter of changing your perception. Look at food as fuel 80 percent of the time. Many people live a fast food lifestyle and eat fast food daily. That isn’t good. Once you get out of the habit, you’ll feel a lot better.

You don’t have to give up those things. During the holidays eat a piece of pie, enjoy the giblet gravy, and use a smaller plate. Focus on your family and friends, so you don’t over eat.

During non-holidays, focus on eating as close to your plan as possible. This will give you the ability to amend the plan during those special days. This is the best way to avoid temptation and stick to eating healthy until it becomes a part of your life forever. Just look forward and think to yourself on July 4th I’ll get to share a funnel cake with my friend, I don’t need that apple pie from McD’s today. Saying no today isn’t hard, when you know you can say yes tomorrow, if you want to. It is your choice. Make the one that is best for your health.

Making Eating Healthy a Part of Your Every Day Life Checklist

Eating healthy isn’t as difficult as we make it out to be. Use this checklist to help you make healthy eating part of your everyday life. 

Prepare Your Own Meals

Preparing healthy meals isn’t difficult and it doesn’t take a long time to do. The key is to make good choices on a meal-by-meal and a daily basis. Planning how you want to handle meal preparation is a great start to a healthy eating habit.

I take these steps and consider these options to help me prepare everyday meals:

  • Write a grocery list
  • Determine what I’ll cook and eat at home.
  • Consider alternative ideas – ex: try food delivery like the purple carrot or grocery delivery from shipt.com.
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Plan How to Handle Dining Out & Parties

You don’t want to deprive yourself at special events, but if you eat out regularly due to work or your lifestyle, the solution is planning.

I plan to take these steps and actions when faced with dining out and parties:

  • Call the restaurant – Ask about options and/or special arrangements.
  • Order off the sides menu.
  • Bring my own
  • Rare events (no more than monthly) eat what you want but plan by eating healthier before and after
  • ____________________________________________________________
  • ____________________________________________________________
  • ____________________________________________________________

Make Healthy Recipe Substitutes

In order to make healthy recipe substitutes, you first need to read and understand ingredient labels. You also need to know what constitutes a good substitute for your particular needs.

I read labels and understand what the ingredients are. Based on my needs and my diet, I make substitutions in recipes for:

  • sugar
  • wheat
  • milk
  • butter
  • cheese
  • peanut butter
  • white flour
  • cooking oil
  • breadcrumbs
  • cream cheese
  • ________________________________________
  • ________________________________________
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  • ________________________________________

Don’t Make It Too Hard

In your zeal to succeed, you may be tempted to “make meals healthy” by taking extreme measures that are inconvenient and don’t really help you in the long run. Keep things simple, especially in the beginning.

I want to make lifestyle changes that I can maintain so I will focus on:

  • Using simple ingredients
  • Cooking ahead
  • Using food delivery, when possible
  • Getting support and/or help when needed
  • ____________________________________________________________
  • ____________________________________________________________
  • ____________________________________________________________

Stay Hydrated

A big part of staying healthy revolves around hydration. If your body doesn’t have enough water to circulate or metabolize your food, “eating healthy” doesn’t do you much good. Include hydration practices throughout the day to set the stage for eating healthy.

I watch my hydration level and take these steps to get enough water:

  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
  • Drink or take in more water under special conditions such as after exercise
  • Eat juicy whole fruit
  • Eat more raw veggies
  • ____________________________________________________________
  • ____________________________________________________________
  • ____________________________________________________________

Eat Enough to Avoid Being Too Hungry

It’s important to be aware of how your body and your moods are affected by hunger. When you can “see the signs,” you can take action to keep your hunger under a healthy control.

I take these precautions and steps to control my hunger:

  • Be mindful of where you are on a hunger scale
  • Plan snacks
  • Recognize my signs of “emotional eating”
  • ____________________________________________________________
  • ____________________________________________________________
  • ____________________________________________________________

Get Moving

There is more to healthy eating than the “eating” part. There is a close connection between eating healthy and exercise. In a healthy lifestyle, you can’t have one without the other.

As part of my new healthy eating lifestyle, I incorporate these exercises and activities:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Weight-bearing or resistance training
  • Stretching
  • ____________________________________________________________
  • ____________________________________________________________
  • ____________________________________________________________

Making Eating Healthy a Part of Your Every Day Life Worksheet 

Set Your Intentions:  Ex. what constitutes a healthy diet to you? What do you want to accomplish each day regarding your diet?

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What will you change about your current life to eat healthier?

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What are some foods you eat now that you can substitute?

Food: ______________________________   Substitute: ______________________________

Food: ______________________________   Substitute: ______________________________

Food: ______________________________   Substitute: ______________________________

Food: ______________________________   Substitute: ______________________________

Food: ______________________________   Substitute: ______________________________

Food: ______________________________   Substitute: ______________________________

Food: ______________________________   Substitute: ______________________________

Food: ______________________________   Substitute: ______________________________ 

What road blocks can you identify that you can plan around?

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How will you change your snacking behavior?

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What is one food you don’t want to give up? How can you make it fit into your life?

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Facebook (or other) Groups you plan join to help find support.

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Cookbooks or websites you think will help you with my choice of lifestyle.

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How do you plan to incentivize yourself to stick to your new healthy eating plan?

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How will you control your portion size?

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What will be the positive results of my efforts?

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When reading labels, these are the top things I need to watch for:

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I tend to snack during (time of day, high stress times, etc.) This is how I plan to combat it (or healthy options I plan to keep on hand).

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ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS

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