Eating healthier can sometimes like a daunting task. For many, trying to be healthier makes the mind rush to all the foods you love to eat, but you feel are ‘bad’ for you and have to be eliminated from your diet.
You most likely shift into deprivation mode, leaving you feeling stressed, agitated, and may even prevent you from taking any steps forward at all -- even though you know you would feel better if you ate a little better.
I am here to tell you that creating a healthier diet and body doesn’t have to mean deprivation. In fact, I’m a very, very, very firm believer that eating healthy should feel abundant! I’ve been working on my own body, and with others’ for over 10 years, and in that time, I’ve seen that adding healthy foods in before taking foods out of your diet works so much better in creating a sustainable, healthy diet.
Adding certain foods instead of avoiding the foods you love lets you adjust your palate to new, healthy foods. Build up an arsenal of foods you know you love and make you feel good, so that when you feel ready to let some of your old favorites go, you will have things you love to take their place.
Here are my top 5 effortless steps to eating better that don’t involve any restriction:
One of the most overlooked areas of health and wellness, I’ve found that most of my clients are chronically dehydrated. This can lead to or contribute to things like chronic headaches, indigestion, depression, anxiety, fatigue, lowered immune function and a whole host of other issues.
We wear unnatural fabrics all day, sit under florescent lighting, eat foods that are cooked and therefore dehydrating, drink coffee and sodas, and so on. Aim to start your day with 1 liter of water before you eat anything. Then try to get another 1-3 liters throughout your day, depending on your size and activity level.
If you find that you’re peeing all the time in the beginning, know that this is normal! It may take some time for your body to adjust to being hydrated, but eventually you’ll start to feel a lot better. Being hydrated improves nutrient absorption, and can help you feel more satisfied after eating.
2. Add 2 Servings Of Fruit To Your Breakfast
Add a banana and an apple, or a few cups of berries to whatever you usually eat. If you generally have heavy breakfasts, like eggs or grains, try to eat your fruits 10-20 minutes before you eat the rest of your breakfast to ensure that the fruits have time to digest and move through your stomach.
This will help prevent the gas and bloating that can come from combining fruit with other, slower digesting foods. This fruit addition will provide much needed vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants to start your day off with a bang.
3. Have A Salad With Lunch and Dinner
Again, eat what you usually do for lunch and dinner, but make a deal with yourself that you are going to enjoy a large salad first. And by large salad, I mean 4-5 cups in total.
Get yourself a base of greens (whatever strikes your fancy; from iceberg lettuce to kale), add 2-3 different chopped veggies (carrots, beets, cucumber, celery, zucchini, mushrooms etc.) and then add a homemade dressing to the works. There are a bunch of awesome recipes you can find online, from nut butter-based dressings, avocado based dressings all the way to blended zucchini-based dressings!
Just make sure that you enjoy the flavor and that only whole foods ingredients go into your dressing. Then eat the rest of your meal. This again will boost your fiber intake, your vitamin and mineral intake, your phytonutrient intake and will even help to hydrate you and make you feel more satisfied with your meal overall.
4. Snack On Veggies, Fruits, Nuts and Seeds
Snack time is where many people struggle. But it does not have to be this way! Simply make sure you have a few pieces of fruit, a few baggies of trail mix, or some mixed veggies and a yummy dip (like guacamole or hummus) on hand for when you get the munchies.
Always have healthy treats with you so that when you’re hungry, there is actually something there for you to eat. Then if you still want a sweet or salty treat after your whole foods, go for it -- just make sure you eat the whole foods stuff first.
5. Start Scoping Out Healthy Swaps
Lastly, start doing some research into healthier, whole foods alternatives to your favorite foods. See if you can start making cookies at home with whole grains and coconut oil. Look for air popped organic popcorn rather than movie theater stuff. Go for home baked fries rather than deep-fried fries.
There is always a way to ‘healthify’ your favorite foods so that you don’t have to cut them out altogether.
Bonus Tip: Learn The Art Of Savoring
Learn to sit and really enjoy your food because the experience of eating is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. It’s so easy to get into the habit of eating on the run or while distracted, and this often leads to overeating and feeling unsatisfied. Slow down and pay attention to what you eat. Whether it’s salad or chocolate cake on your plate, revel in the experience. Your brain and body will thank you.
Remember that in the end, this is about taking small, sustainable steps towards health. You don’t have to overhaul your whole diet overnight to see results. Take it slow, do what feels doable for you now, get comfortable in that, and then take your next step. Inch by inch, you will get there.