Millions of people would like to eat healthier but are not sure how to go about it. If you are one of those people, you know how overwhelming choosing the best path can be. The internet is flooded with eating plans and restrictive diets. If you search for books on healthy eating on Amazon, you'll get tens of thousands of results! Even worse, many of these eating plans and diets completely contradict the others. Sometimes the sheer number of choices can be so confusing that people end up not making any changes at all. Although the many plans out there might disagree on whether you should be eating carbs, cutting out meat, going gluten-free, or not consuming any dairy, there are some common-sense changes you can make right now to achieve healthier eating habits.
1. Eat Breakfast
You probably grew up hearing that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. Well, it turns out that it actually is. After hours of not eating through the night, your body needs food first thing in the morning. Eating breakfast replenishes your energy stores so that you can have a productive morning, it stabilizes your blood sugar, which tends to be pretty low after an eight-hour fast, and it keeps you from getting so hungry before lunch that you start grabbing the bags of chips and donuts at work. What should you eat? It's safe to say that pancakes and greasy bacon are probably not the healthiest choices. Regardless of what diet you eventually commit to, it's going to suggest that you start your day with something healthy. If you have a big appetite in the morning, eggs with whole-grain toast and some fruit would be a good choice. If your appetite doesn't wake up until later in the day a smoothie filled with fruit, veggies, and maybe a good green superfood powder will give your body what it needs without being overfilling.
2. Choose Healthy Snacks
Some diets say you should snack, some say you should avoid it like the plague. Common sense says that if you're hungry between meals a snack might be just what you need. But here's the secret - keep it healthy. Not all snacks are made equal. If you just have to have something before your next mealtime, choose fruit, veggies, yogurt, nuts, and whole grains. Having a healthy snack may well keep you on your healthy eating plan.
3. Eat Intentionally
People have the tendency to eat mindlessly. This leads to overeating and poor food choices. Make the decision that, regardless of what you eat, you will do it intentionally. Don't drive and eat. Don't work and eat. Don't talk on the phone and eat. When it is time to eat, put your food on a plate and sit down at a table. You will be surprised how many unhealthy foods and excess calories you will cut out of your diet by doing this alone.
4. Pay Attention to Your Hunger
It sounds obvious to say that you should only eat if you are hungry, but people eat for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with their hunger level. People eat when they are sad, when they are happy, when they are bored, and when they are anxious. When you have the impulse to eat, simply ask yourself if you are actually hungry. If the answer is yes, then follow all the other suggestions above and have something to eat. But if the answer is no, figure out what is really going on and try to address it some other way.
You may not be ready to choose the perfect eating plan today, but you can start making some healthy choices while you are deciding. Being a bit more mindful about eating, paying attention to your body's signals, choosing a better quality of snacks, and starting the day with some healthy fuel can jumpstart your journey to healthier eating habits.