Staying healthy seems to get more and more complicated as each passing day brings new updates about what to eat and what not to eat, what diet to follow and what's yesterday's news. It's enough to drive a professional nutritionist crazy, much less the average person who is trying to decide what to have for lunch, and how to lose a couple of lbs!
Watching portion sizes, counting calories, and knowing every ingredient in every meal are awesome goals for sure, but these can be complicated endeavors that leave you overwhelmed, over-stressed and reaching for the cookie jar - thwarting any all intentions to lose weight.
Sometimes simple diet rules can be just as effective at creating a healthier you. Here are ten:
1. Don't eat neon foods (unless the color is natural). More and more studies are coming out that question how food colorings (like blue # 1 & 2, green # 3, orange B, red #3 & 40 and yellow # 5 & 6) act in the body and brain, particularly in young children (for whom these foods are usually intended). Hot pink cereal, bright purple cupcakes and blazing orange soda contain additives that no one needs in their body.
2. Always drink water with your meals. Make H2O your main beverage and save juices, sodas, coffee, tea, milk or anything else a special treat.
3. Buy brown instead of white when it comes to sugar, bread, rice and flour. The less a food is refined, the better it usually is for your body.
4. Drink green tea every day. Instead of reaching for another snack or soda between meals, enjoy a healthy, antioxidant-rich cup of green tea. Add a squeeze of lemon for an added boost of vitamin C, but forget the milk and sugar. You don't need those last two, and if you give them up for a while, soon you will discover that you don't even miss them.
5. Never grocery shop hungry. When you hit the supermarket on an empty stomach, your cart is much more likely to be filled with sweet treats, fatty chips, easy processed meals and junk food. If you find yourself at the store with a growling belly, simply buy a granola bar or small bag of nuts to eat before you hit the aisles. You will not only save your cupboards from being stocked with unhealthy foods, but you'll also save your wallet from superfluous impulse buys!
6. Don't eat standing up. The food you eat standing up is usually either unhealthy or unnecessary: fatty hors d'oeuvres at cocktail parties, a spoonful of mashed potatoes before the meal is served, a free cookie from the lobby of the bank. You don't need this thoughtless eating; instead consider every meal as a ritual, eating as a sacred experience and your body as a temple where junk does not belong.
7. Eat breakfast. You have heard it again and again, and maybe you are just not hungry when you wake up. Fair enough, but have a protein bar and banana or natural yogurt on hand for the moment you do get hungry an hour or so later. Waiting until lunch to eat not only makes you more likely to overindulge, but it throws off your body's metabolism for the rest of the day. The best breakfasts include whole grains, lean protein and fresh fruit. If you have a hard time (like most), here a few more breakfast tips to make it easier.
8. Don't buy foods that contain more than three ingredients that you can't pronounce (and we're being lenient here). We live in a world of processed foods, and in busy times these quick meals must suffice. However there is much we don't know about food additives and preservatives, and if you are continually relying on these foods for your nutrition, you may be coming up short.
9. Don't ever eat foods straight out of the bag or container. Most people underestimate what constitutes a serving size, and they wind up eating far more cookies or chips than they intended to. Even healthy foods are bad for your body if you overindulge, so decide how much you want to eat and place it in a separate bowl, plate or paper towel to enjoy instead of dipping straight out of the bag.
10. Stash healthy snacks in your car to decrease impulse trips through fast food drive-throughs. Most people don't plan to eat fast food; rather they are tired, hungry, the bright sign pops out from the side of the road and then before they know it, a bag of greasy food is sitting in the passenger seat. Keep your favorite brand of fruit and nut bars, granola or even peanut-butter crackers in the car so that your stomach never drives you to an unhealthy meal experience!
image: Sherbet Photography