Eating healthy can help you lose weight and have more energy. It can also improve your mood and reduce your risk of disease. Yet despite these benefits, maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle can be challenging. Here are ways to stick to a healthy diet. Practice Mindful Eating Eating mindfully can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Take time to enjoy your food and appreciate its ability to nourish you. This increases your chances of making successful, lasting behavioral changes. Adopting a mindful eating approach can help you achieve a better relationship with food and may reduce binge eating. In a four-month study, overweight and obese women who practiced mindful eating significantly improved their relationship with food. Another 6-week study in women with binge eating disorder found that binge episodes decreased from 4 to 1.5 per week when the women practiced mindful eating. Plus, the severity of each binge decreased. Start the Day with a High-Protein Breakfast Eating a high-protein breakfast helps you stay full and can prevent overeating later in the day. If your first meal is well balanced and contains adequate protein, you’re more likely to maintain stable blood sugar levels and not overeat for the rest of the day. Get as much of your nutrition as possible from a variety of completely unprocessed foods These include fruits and vegetables. But they also include meat, fish, poultry and eggs that haven’t been processed. In other words, when buying food at the market, focus on things that have not been cooked, prepared or altered in any way. Brown rice over white rice. Whole grains over refined grains. You’re far better off eating two apples than drinking the same 27 grams of sugar in an eight-ounce glass of apple juice. Try to eat lightly processed foods less often. You’re not going to make everything yourself. Pasta, for instance, is going to be bought already prepared. These are meant to be eaten along with unprocessed foods, but try to eat less of them. There’s little high-quality evidence that even the most processed foods are dangerous. But keep your consumption of them to a minimum, because they can make it too easy to stuff in calories. In epidemiologic studies, heavily processed meats are often associated with worse health outcomes, but that evidence should be taken with a grain of salt (not literally). Keep Unhealthy Foods out of the House It’s difficult to eat healthy if you’re surrounded by junk foods. If other family members want to have these foods around, try keeping them hidden rather than on counter tops. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” definitely applies here. Having food on display in various areas of the house has been linked to obesity and increased consumption of unhealthy foods. Keeping unhealthy foods out of the house, or at least out of sight, can increase your chances of staying on track. Drink Enough Water Drinking enough water is important for your health. Many studies have shown that drinking water may benefit weight loss, weight maintenance and even slightly increase the number of calories you burn daily. Studies also show that drinking water before meals can reduce appetite and calorie intake during the subsequent meal in middle-aged and older adults. That said, the most important thing is to drink water instead of other beverages. This may drastically reduce your sugar and calorie intake. People who drink mostly water have been shown to consume 200 fewer calories per day, on average, than those who drink other beverages Bake or Roast Instead of Grilling or Frying The way you prepare your food can drastically change its effects on your health. Grilling, frying and deep-frying are all popular methods of preparing meat and fish. However, during these types of cooking methods, several potentially toxic compounds are formed, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). All of these compounds have been linked to several diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Healthier cooking methods include baking, broiling, simmering, slow-cooking, poaching, pressure cooking, stewing and sous-vide. These methods do not promote the formation of these harmful compounds and thus make your food healthier. Nevertheless, there is nothing to say you can’t enjoy the occasional grill or deep-fry, but try to use those methods sparingly. Eat Your Greens First A good way to ensure that you eat your greens is to eat them as a starter. By doing so, you will most likely finish all of your greens while you are the hungriest and be apt to eat less of other, perhaps less healthy, components of the meal. This may lead you to eat fewer and healthier calories overall, which may result in weight loss. Furthermore, eating vegetables before a carb-rich meal has been shown to have beneficial effects on blood sugar levels. It slows down the speed at which carbs are absorbed into the bloodstream and may benefit both short- and long-term blood sugar control in people with diabetes. Make Meal Prep Part of Your Daily Routine By prepping all of your meals, it makes it easier to stay on track with maintaining healthy eating habits throughout the week. Start using your fresh ingredients, such as fresh meats, poultry, seafood and fruits and veggies before moving on to longer-lasting frozen and shelf-stable items. You can also use shelf-stable foods to help stretch meals made with fresh ingredients. For example: Make tacos using a mix of beans and ground meat or poultry. This will help serve more eaters — or help you serve more meals out of a single batch. Whip up bean purees (like white beans with garlic) to serve alongside chicken and fish dishes. Since these sides contain protein, you can use a smaller portion of your main dish to help ensure there are leftovers. Stir beans into soups and sautéed greens to serve as a filling main or protein-boosting side dish. Accent meals with nutrient-rich nuts and seeds. They’re not only delicious, but they pack protein, fiber and other health-supporting substances — and they’re easy to store. Avoid Unnecessary Snacking and Eating out of Boredom When you get the urge to eat when you’re bored, the best plan of attack is to rip the culprit out by its roots. Banish the boredom by doing something that you enjoy. Try doing something that you like, or that is productive, instead. For example: cleaning, striking something off your to-do list, exercising, doing a yoga practice, or journaling. If you cannot help but to give into the urge, you still have options. Instead of reaching for those salty chips or cookies, reach for some carrot sticks instead. Eating vegetables will turn your craving into a healthy burst of nutrition for your body, and you won’t feel guilty later. Need some additional ideas or recommendations – contact us today!