Many people grab the food that is most convenient when they are tired, busy or stressed. However, there are many benefits to giving some thought to what and how we are eating. According to the CDC, some of these benefits include stronger bones, better immunity to illnesses, lowered risk of certain medical conditions, healthier eyes and teeth, and more. These perks may lead people to have less stress in their lives, creating a positive cycle all around. Here are four healthy eating habits to start today.
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1. Practicing Portion Control
Everything should be eaten in moderation, even the most healthy of foods. Failing to control portion sizes can lead people to consume more calories than they need in a day, which may eventually lead to negative medical outcomes. A few ways to start being more mindful of portion control include:
- Using smaller plates and bowls during meals, which can trick the eyes into believing there is more food on the dish than there actually is
- Weighing and measuring portion sizes, which is especially important if you are closely tracking the number of calories or macronutrients you consume every day
- Paying attention to the serving size that is listed on the nutrition facts of packaged foods and following that guideline as necessary
It may surprise you what a portion of a particular food actually looks like, but with practice, controlling portion sizes will start to become more natural and intuitive.
2. Making Plans Ahead of Time
It can be particularly difficult to eat healthy while traveling. Not only do people get caught up in the vacation mindset that can lead to overindulging and making unhealthy choices, but food choices can be limited in airports or when driving through rural areas. Some airports close all but their fast food options at an earlier hour, or when on a road trip, you may need to drive through a food desert where the only options for buying a snack include limited options like gas stations.
One principle of healthy eating on the go is to prepare food ahead of time to take with you while traveling. Sandwiches are a good choice when wanting a meal that will stay fresh for a few hours and will not be prone to leaking. Salads can also be portable when kept in an airtight container with any dressings stored separately. Other options for snacking include chopped vegetables and fruits, low-sugar protein bars and prepackaged trail mix.
3. Allowing Treats in Moderation
It is easy to get into a mindset of thinking that some foods are good while categorizing other foods as bad. However, all foods are okay as long as they are eaten in moderation. Labeling a certain type of food as off-limits can backfire on someone who is trying to eat mindfully and make them crave that food even more.
Enjoy your favorite treats every once in a while without beating yourself up for it, as that can lead to giving up on healthy habits and other negative behaviors. Allowing yourself to indulge occasionally makes it easier to stick to your habits the remainder of the time.
4. Listening to Your Body
People sometimes find themselves eating because they are stressed or bored, rather than feeling actual hunger. Pay attention to your body and ask yourself if you are eating to fuel your body or if you are eating due to emotions that you have not yet addressed. If you believe it is the latter, take a step back to address those emotions in a better way, such as by:
- Calling and talking to a trusted friend or family member
- Writing your thoughts and feelings down in a journal
- Going for a walk outside
- Doing something distracting such as watching a television show
Listen when your body is telling you that you are full as well as experiencing hunger.
Starting these four habits can help you get on track to eating more healthily.