When it comes to health, we often have fitness and food goals like losing weight, exercising regularly, eating healthier or making better food choices. Losing weight could take months. Exercising regularly could take years while eating healthier and making better food choices are hard to measure. Before we achieve these goals, we may feel discouraged and give up. To stay on track, we can break down these health goals into smaller and more realistic steps – steps that are easier to measure and track weekly or monthly so that we can see our progress and feel motivated.
Eat 5 to 6 balanced meals a day
Eating 5 to 6 balanced meals a day means eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and 2 to 3 snacks Each should include grain and/or starch, a vegetable and/or fruit, and protein. Build a balanced plate at every meal, a well as snacks. You’ll see that the plate is divided into three sections, each section representing one of the main food groups, along with portion size. On one-half of the plate are fruits and vegetables, on one-quarter of the plate are grains and starches, and the remaining one-quarter is a source of protein.
Try new foods.
“We seem to eat the same foods repeatedly. This limits our nutritional range,” Albers says. “Be adventurous. Try new foods.” You might just discover a new favorite you’ve been missing all this time.
3. Eat Slowly and Mindfully
It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to send out signals that you are full. Eat slowly. Take the extra time to pay attention to what we are eating and how much. To make this more measurable, write down how often you will make an effort to take at least a half-hour to finish your meal.
Find better ways to manage stress.
Stress eating is a bad habit for so many people. By finding others to cope with stress, you’ll slowly stop turning to food for comfort. Whether it’s reading a good book, getting a manicure, cooking, Going for a run, or whatever else helps you blow off some steam and regroup, find something that helps you unload your stress other than food.
5. Eat Fruit and Vegetables
Set a goal to fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables at every meal. Fruit and vegetables are naturally low in saturated and trans fat and rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Or simply set a goal to use My Healthy Plate for all meals.
Whip out the measuring cups.
Most of us struggle with portion control, and many times, it’s a total accident. We just don’t know what a true portion size looks like. Take time on a Sunday and get out the measuring cups. “Just get a basic idea of what a portion size looks like, so your eyes and stomach and brain are on the same page.” When you’re familiar with how things look, then you can better eyeball it at restaurants and holiday parties.
Swop to Wholegrains
Eating wholegrain foods such as brown rice, wholemeal bread and rolled oats can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. They can also help with weight management because they keep you feeling full longer and reduce the need for snacking. Set a goal to ask for brown rice and make it measurable
e.g. ask for brown rice at least 3 times a week at lunch.
Drink more water
You need to stay hydrated all day every day, not just when it’s hot outside or you’re sweating it out at the gym. “Focus on making sure you’re Drinking enough water” by employing tricks like keeping a water bottle at your desk or using an app to track how much you’re drinking. If you drink lots of sugary drinks try swapping them for unsweetened seltzer water (if the bubbles are what you crave) or fruit-infused water (hey, sugar fiend).
9. Avoid anything artificial
Stick with real foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, lean meats, low-fat dairy, and whole-grain pasta, rice, and bread. “The idea is to get the biggest nutrient bang for the calorie buck. Processed foods contain a lot of junk. Real foods are antioxidant-rich and fiber-filled.”
10. Pile on the green stuff.
“The bulk of your diet should be vegetables, such as tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, and other greens,” Vegetables are high in fiber and water, which fill you up. “You’ll be surprised by how much you can eat when you follow this plan.”