Boost your energy levels, lose weight, feel happier than ever with these 5 Simple Diet Tweaks That Will Improve Your Health.
Everyone I know is always looking for some quick fix to get in shape, lose weight and get healthier. Myself included few years back. After years and years of dieting and in search of magic pill that will burn all my piled fat, tone my body and boost my neglected health, I found out that there is none. I had to do it the "harder way"... well, that was how dieting and exercising looked like to me three years ago. BUT luckily I found out very soon that changing your eating habits doesn't have to be THAT hard, nor that daunting, nor boring.
With few simple diet tweaks, you can start losing weight and significantly improve your health. The bonus is that in this slow but proven process you will learn to eat smarter and you will form a habit that is easy to stick to. With these tweaks, you will succeed in your intention to be healthier.
Here's what you should do:
CUT DOWN ON PROCESSED FOODS.
Do you read the labels on the back of store-bought food you buy? Well, you should be checking those labels out. Long ingredient lists with words you need to be a chemist to understand means the product is overly-processed. Highly processed food - like processed meat, "ready-to-eat" foods (that's the foods that need minimal or no preparation) and frozen meals - are the foods that are usually loaded with refined sweeteners and sodium, oils, flavor enhancers, artificial colors, and preservatives. All these ingredients are used to improve safety, but also to prolong the shelf life of the food. Why would you want to eat a food with the substance that is scientifically designed to make food never rot? Yuck! Some additives are added just to make food taste "better" or simply to add to visual appeal.
Eating those highly processed foods causes inflammation in our bodies. The body treats this inflammation as an immune response, expending energy to prevent it and lowering our immune system. Processed foods are the cause of many diseases - like coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer.
For me cutting out and eliminating some processed food from my diet was life-changing. When I started eating whole foods, I immediately started to feel healthier overall. I didn't feel bloated anymore. My stomach and digestion problems disappeared completely within few months. It was like my body healed itself from inside. Not to mention I started losing serious weight.
So rather than counting calories, watching fat grams, or reducing carbs, simply eat whole foods that are more product of nature than industrial products. Fill your shopping list with fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. And when it comes to packaged products, look for those with five ingredients or less, if possible. Reading nutrition labels can help you choose between various processed products. Always check on fat, sodium and sugar content (especially added sugars). Remember, real food doesn't have ingredients. Real food is ingredients.
FILL YOUR PLATE WITH FRUITS AND VEGGIES.
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients. And by loaded, I mean LOADED. They provide essential vitamins and minerals, fibers and other nutrients that are important for good health. Including proteins. Fresh fruits and veggies are full of water, which helps you feel more full and keeps you hydrated. Also, most veggies and fruits, when prepared without added fats or sugars, are relatively low in calories. Eating them instead of higher calorie foods can help you lose some serious weight. Since most vegetables require lots of chewing, they also naturally slow your eating down, helping us to eat more mindfully.
When it comes to plating your meals, don't make a science of that. Simply fill half of plate with veggies and fruits and the rest let it be the other food. It's that simple. Making your plate veggie-focused will also make your dinner lighter. There are many ways to eat fruits and veggies at every meal: add some veggies to your breakfast sandwich or stuff an omelet with it. Make a Cabbage Slaw Salad to accompany the main meal. Toss a fruit in your lunch box for some office snacking. Just remember to eat a rainbow.
EAT MORE HOME COOKED MEALS.
The benefits of cooking at home are numerous. First, it saves you some serious money. Eating homemade meals is usually much cheaper than eating at a restaurant or buying processed pre-packaged meals in the store. Secondly, it saves you time. Sometimes going to supermarket or ordering delivery may take you quite some time. There are so many meals that can be made in less than 30 minutes - like Soy Marinated Chicken Skewers or Turkey Burger. Not to mention you can always cook in bulk and eat the leftovers later in the week or freeze it. And the third (most important) thing is when you cook your meals at home, you know exactly which ingredients and how much of each is going into your food. You are in control what goes into your body.
With meals delivered to you, you're not fully conscious of the foods you’re eating. Being more aware of what you consume when you prepare it will make you less likely to overeat. + Home cooking will increase your knowledge of food and interest you in nutrition. It will even boost your creativity as you learn to combine nutritious foods to satisfy your palate. Seriously, just stop buying pre-packaged meals. Learn to cook. It's not that hard. Really. And benefits are amazing.
SAY GOOD MORNING TO YOUR BODY. EAT BREAKFAST.
Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. A nutritious meal in the morning immediately raises the body’s energy level after an overnight fast. It's like fuel for the body to start functioning. Breakfast doesn't have to be fancy or complicated. Eggs with wholegrain toast or bowl of granola with fruits and yogurt will do. Even a simple Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies is fine. Smoothie is another great option especially if you're in a hurry (or lazy like me sometimes).
The key to having a healthy, quick and simple breakfast is planning ahead. Stock up on healthy options such as yogurt, fruits, whole grain cereals. You can even make some things like pancakes, egg muffins, and overnight oats and chia puddings the night before. In the morning just top it with fresh fruits, and there you go. Nutritious meal in the morning sets the tone for the day and promotes a healthy lifestyle.
The point is, you don't have to eat right after you open your eyes, nor you have to stack yourself with food early upon awakening. Just make sure you have a proper amount of food (preferably from all food groups - healthy fats, proteins, fibers and healthy natural sugars) and that you eat at least an hour after you woke up. This will trigger your metabolism. + With your stomach full while leaving the house you're likely to skip grabbing the high-fat, high-sugar breakfast options at local store or bakery. Soon as you start eating a healthy, well-balanced breakfast in the morning, you will start to feel more energized. And your waist will begin to shrink.
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER.
I feel as I'm repeating myself here, but I can't emphasize more the importance of staying well hydrated during the day. Drinking water (either plain or in the form of other fluids or foods) is essential to our health. Water helps flush out the toxins. It reduces inflammation, lubricates joints, supports our metabolism and improves energy, digestion, and mental performance. Drinking water also helps with weight loss. The secret? Water simply helps you feel full, and as a result, you consume fewer calories. Many of my aches and pains, headaches, and other symptoms I've experienced lessen when I started drinking more water. Not to mention that my skin started to glow.
You can easily judge how quenched you are by the color of your pee, which should be a pale yellow. If it's orange, you definitely need more water. If it's super clear, you’ve probably gone too far. If you struggle to drink your eight glasses of water per day, get the Ulla - smart hydration reminder. Carry your fancy water bottle wherever you go. Put it on your desk and just sip sip sip. Don't like the taste? Infuse water with some fruits or make energizing Chia Fresca. Sparkling water with a squeeze of citrus makes a decent substitute for soda if you're soda junky.
All this may seems overwhelming. I completely understand. I had the same fear when I was at the beginning of my journey. Maybe the best advice I can give you is to just focus on a couple of small changes at a time rather than trying an all-or-nothing approach that is more likely to fail because it is just too hard to follow. Remember, no matter what your current diet looks like, it's never too late to tweak your eating habits to improve your overall well-being. Take your time to learn these new healthier habits. Adjust them as you go and just enjoy along the path.