It’s inevitable; at some point in the day, everyone gets hungry. No matter who you are you have to eat.
Because of this truth, eating isn’t inherently a dangerous behavior in the same way smoking is. However, we live in a world that’s full of convenient, cheap, and (let’s be honest) delicious food that’s bad for our long-term health.
This post continues our series on reducing risky behaviors. It covers how the food we put in our body can be detrimental to our health and shares a few easy tips to eating healthier.
Reducing Risky Behaviors: Eat Healthy
As was mentioned, we live in a society where we’ve surrounded ourselves with food that tastes great, but is terrible for us. As a result, the United States has some very serious food-related problems. If you’re interested, check out this list to give you an idea of the size of the problem. Here are some highlights:
We’re eating the wrong things:Typical American diets exceed the recommended intake levels or limits in four categories: calories from solid fats and added sugars; refined grains; sodium; and saturated fat. About 90% of Americans eat more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet.
We’re eating too much:Average daily calories per person in the have increased approximately 600 calories.
These two things play into obesity rates, which have a big impact on personal health.
- Recent reports project that by 2030, half of all adults (115 million adults) in the United States will be obese.
- Obesity-related illness, including diabetes and heart disease (heart attack and stroke), can lead to disability and death.
On the other hand, benefits of having a healthy dietary lifestyle include: weight control, general mood improvement, lower risk for diseases, and improved energy and longevity.
So when you eat healthy it will generally make your life a more enjoyable experience. Now is the time to start making changes!
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The first couple of days you will stoically endure eating five small meals of mostly vegetables, lean meat, some fruit, and whole grains. Then, on the third day, (or the second), you will reward yourself with a piece (or five) of chocolate cake, and then you will decide that an unhealthy life with cake is better than a commitment to eat healthy without it.
The truth is eating healthy isn’t about denying yourself. It’s about saving the foods that lead to the bad stuff as treats. Unless you’re already experiencing some negative health consequences, you don’t have to cut things out all together. You just have to eat more good things and fewer bad things.
Seven Tips to Eat Healthy...
Yes, it's obvious that a healthy diet and lifestyle are super important to every facet of our lives. No one is disputing this. The issue with changing your diet is that it can be really hard, as most of us have experienced.
To help you out, we've compiled a list of tips to help keep up making the changes.
Take a minute and learn what proper portions are.Most people eat too much. The problem is we were never taught about the right amount. There’s a great website, choosemyplate.gov, that teaches us what we should be eating and how much. There are recipe books for free, videos, and a ton of other great resources.
Don't skip breakfast.No, really, don't do it. Eating small meals throughout the day, starting with breakfast, increases your body's metabolism, which burns calories (7 Reasons You Shouldn't Skip Breakfast).
Use the three-bite rule for dessert.This means, you can have your cake and eat it too! Or at least, three bites of it. Like we said, you just have to eat less of the less healthy stuff.
Finish eating three hours before bedtime.This means, unless you're falling asleep at 3:00 AM, (which is a blog post for another day), no midnight snacking. While sleeping our bodies go from fat-burning mode to fat-storage mode, so limit what fat is being stored during that time.
Question your cravings.The only time eating will satisfy the craving is if you are actually hungry. Otherwise, you're just consuming empty calories.
Bag your lunch.According a study by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, dieters who eat out for lunch even once a week lose 5 fewer pounds on average. Bonus: You save that $10-15 you're spending by eating out every day.
Train your brain.If you’re trying to lose weight, have a specific weight-loss goal in mind when you start to eat healthy. If it's not a weight-loss goal, have a weight-maintenance goal. For example: "I will lose 30 pounds in the next six months". Or, "I will maintain this weight plus or minus 5 pounds until my wedding in ten months". Our brains work better with tangible goals set. Better yet, write that goal down, and then tell someone close to you about it. This added accountability will consciously, and sub-consciously, help you achieve that goal (6 Ways To Achieve Any Goal).
A healthy diet can be a tricky thing to maintain. What happens after you make it through the first couple of days, or weeks, can be just as tricky. Even more important than a healthy diet is a healthy lifestyle. Once you achieve your weight-loss goal and reach the end of that timeline, follow-up it with a weight-maintenance goal.
Work towards making that healthy diet a life choice instead of a fleeting fancy, and you will reap all of those benefits we listed earlier.
What are some of your best dieting tips? Talk to us on our Facebook page.