Leading a healthy lifestyle, with sufficient exercise bolstered by a varied and balanced diet, is essential to long term health. This article is just a set of simple tips that you can quickly and easily implement in your daily life to improve your diet.
1. Look at your diet additively. Where you start with the essentials and add the things you want. Most people intuitively do this in the sense that they make sure to eat at least one “protein” meal every day. The “essentials” you think of are proteins, either a complete protein from meats/fish, dairy or eggs, or a “nearly complete protein” from soy, amarynth, quinoa, buckwheat, etc. — You very likely only need one of these each day. The rest, grains and legumes, vegetables, fruit, calcium, leafy greens, omega-3s, easily complete the picture (except less easy are calcium for vegetarians, and omega-3s for western agrarian diets). Because of those less easy ones, you might want to make one meal specifically a calcium meal (unless you already get a lot, eg dairy), one specifically for omega-3s, and one for protein.
2. Control your environment. Concerns about weight particularly are mostly due to some natural rhythm being interrupted in your life (whether just recently or for a long period in your life). And this can lead to a lack of exercise. There is no substitute for physical activity. Try to at least walk for an hour every week.
3. Use flaxseed. Flaxseed is much better for you than flax oil (besides being much cheaper), which is a nice salad oil but has a strange taste to cook with. Some people suggest cracking the flaxseed. It goes well in salads, antipasti, cereals, and many of sauces.
4. Cook at home. Cooking at home gives you intimacy with the foods you intake, along with direct, hands-on time to understand what you are putting into your body, and it takes energy to gather and prepare the food.
5. Consume healthy oils. If you substitute out good tasting oils for healthy ones, and you don’t pick particularly flavorful ones, the worst you are going to do is actually taste the other ingredients in your meal.
Most people in the western world have trouble getting enough omega-3s. While omega-6s are also healthy, it’s the omega-3s you likely need to supplement in your diet. Hemp butter (hemp seed oil) has not only a healthy amount of omega-3s and omega-6s, in the right proportions, but unlike flax seed oil it imparts very little flavor when used for cooking. It’s only downside for cooking is that it has a low smoke point (can’t be heated very high) and you basically have to use it as you would butter. ALA, a common omega-3, can be heated to 350ºF (medium heat), and so is safe for any kind of cooking but high temperature cooking.
Avocado oil is probably the healthiest high-temperature oil. Canola (rapeseed) and olive oils are also healthier oils than others (eg, butter, lard, peanut oil, palm oil, etc) – canola oil is a good low/medium temperature oil with a light flavor, olive oil has a somewhat stronger flavor but can be heated nearly very high (the common, refined variety).
6. Do not eat when you are not hungry! Boredom and depression can lead a person to eating things that will lead to weight gain. If you are bored, try reading a book, playing a sport, or talking to friends. Try to avoid your kitchen if you are home all day. Make sure there is no food in sight or you will get cravings.
7. Eat small. Enjoy smaller quantities more often, there’s no rule for how many meals you can eat in a day. This also helps replace snacks.
- At least eat a salad. One salad a day is very low calorie, and a common problem with busy people’s diets is the lack of variety and leafy greens. It can be eaten as a “fourth meal”, if you like.
8. Eat only until you are satisfied. Do not over stuff yourself. If you are given a ton of food on your plate, don’t feel obligated to eat it all.
9. Eat grains. If you’re a vegetarian worried about your weight, this is likely the thing to improve. Use Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt. Use skim and fat-free instead of whole. Use less dairy generally. In any case, get a good proportion of your protein from grains/pseudo-grains every day.
Amaranth, quinoa, chia, are “nearly complete” proteins in the sense that if you combine them with any other whole food (eg, wheat from breads) you are likely to get a complete variety of proteins for the day. They also are high in fiber, including soluble fiber which expands when digested and can help you feel sated more easily.
10. Eat fish. If you are not a vegetarian; many cultures (Spain, Greece, Japan) who have access to both land animals and seafood eat principally seafood, and the healthiness of these diets has attracted a lot of scientific attention.
11. Limit your intake on sweets. Too much isn’t good for you but a little once in a while is okay.
12. Avoid fast food and junk food (French fries, pizza, etc.) It’s only okay once in a while, but if you keep buying junk food, learn to overcome it
13. Drink fruit juice instead of sugared sodas. Further limit the amount of sugared soda sugar in your diet by drinking fruit juice. Fruit juice does not lack for sugar! It just has less than soda, which is typically supersaturated with sugar.
14. Drink zero calorie sodas. Save caloried-sodas for rare occasions, or when you specifically need energy (not “something sweet”). You might want to at least experiment with mixing zero calorie and sugared sodas from the same brands for when you just have to have sugared water.
15. Drink more water. It doesn’t have to be eight glasses a day. Just drink more than you’re drinking now, and choose water over sodas and other beverages more frequently. Not only will it help you stay hydrated and healthy, but it can also help you feel full more often. Feel like snacking? Try drinking a glass of water instead.
- Drinking water curbs hunger, makes you feel better and makes your skin glow!
16. Try to replace things you usually eat with something healthier. If you’re reaching for a handful of chips, force yourself to stop, and go grab an apple instead.
17. Check food labels. Eat foods that are low in calories and carbohydrates. Although carbohydrates can help you think better and they fuel the nervous system and power fat metabolism. Avoid saturated and trans fat (which leads to weight gain). Eat foods that have vitamins and minerals in them. Protein, fiber, and iron are all good for you. If you can’t read an ingredient or if you’ve never heard of it, most likely it is not good for you. Do not go under 1200 calories a day for an extended period.
18. Know how to respond to binges. If you have a pig-out and want to burn off the calories you just consumed, go for a brisk walk or any other physical activity. Also, eat a nutritious meal after a pig-out. Alternatively, if you are tempted to binge, try eating something nutritious beforehand. By the time you finish this initial food, you may change your mind.