Research shows that following a diet pattern that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is a big part of leading a healthier (and longer!) life. But busy schedules, the unavailability of healthy snacks, and self-judgement can wreak havoc on diets and good intentions. Eating well isn’t impossible, though, and it can become a habit with the right strategy. Here are ten healthy eating tips from nutrition experts that may change the way you eat:
- Eat what you love. Do you like eating dessert or the occasional burger? Well, carry on. Don’t deprive yourself of your favorite foods; it only sets you up for failure later. Instead, eat smaller portions of the foods you enjoy.
- Balance your daily intake. If you plan to eat a big dinner, like steak and potatoes at your favorite restaurant, eat a variety of other foods (like whole grains, fruits, veggies, and nuts and seeds) earlier in the day to balance that meal out.
- Don’t count calories. Focus on eating nutritious foods instead of counting calories. Eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help you feel full, minimize cravings, and stabilize blood sugar.
- Don’t bore your taste buds. Vegetables get a bad reputation for being tasteless. But additions like olive oil, garlic, and other seasonings can turn bland-tasting vegetables into a flavor revelation!
- Prep nutritious foods. Prepare roasted vegetables, a batch of quinoa, or carrot sticks in advance and keep them in the fridge. That way, you’ll have an alternative to chips and dip when hunger strikes.
- Go big at lunchtime. Eating a bigger lunch can provide your body with fuel during the most active part of your day. Save smaller meals for breakfast if you’re not hungry in the morning, or for dinner when you’re less likely to be active.
- Get rid of guilt. A recent study in the journal Appetite found that feeling guilty about what you eat can undermine weight loss and might even result in weight gain. In other words, ditch the guilt, enjoy the food you eat, and stay active, so you’ll be more likely to eat well and maintain your weight.
- Eat all colors. Fruits and vegetables come in every color of the rainbow—aim to eat all of them to get a variety of disease-fighting phytonutrients. Bonus: you’ll be full and have less room for junk food.
- Have a healthy snack attack. Keep snacks like Greek yogurt, nuts, dried fruits, or nitrate-free jerky in your office. You’ll be less likely to go for a donut or bag of candy when you have healthy snacks within reach.
- Think 80/20. Eat well 80% of the time, allowing for a little freedom the remaining 20% of the time. You can also use this ratio to avoid overeating—check in with yourself throughout your meal and stop eating when you’re 80% full.