What people often do when they are determined to eat healthier:
1. Spend five hours to prepare a meal that sounds terrible using a “healthy” recipe from some magazine.
2. Invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in a “healthy” pre-packaged meal plan.
3. Accidentally starve themselves by eating only fruit, salad and the occasional nibble of flavorless protein…but call it a “healthy” alternative to their old eating habits.
These initiatives fail regularly and they fail fast.
What people should start with when determined to eat healthier:
1. Maximize colors.
One of the most excruciating parts of incorporating healthy eating is not knowing how to tell what food is healthy and what food pretends to be healthy. Pouring over nutrition labels is tedious and stressful.
To avoid that stress and still pump up your nutrition, make your plate as colorful as possible. Colorful foods tend to be healthier. Beige or tan foods often lack tons of important nutrients.
*Added benefit: colorful dinners look pretty.
2. Set things aside and slow down.
Go ahead and set aside at least 1/3 of the least healthy item on your plate. Seriously, pull out a second plate, place 1/3 of your bread, potatoes and gravy, or roast beef on it and put it out of sight.
Now go ahead and eat what’s left on your original dish, but eat slowly. You may even want to try putting your fork down between bites. Challenge yourself to not pick it up again until after you swallow what’s in your mouth.
Once you finish your main plate, wait 30-60 minutes to assess your level of hunger. After this time has passed, consider the following:
- If your stomach is growling and you specifically crave the remaining 1/3 of your unhealthy item, go for it.
- If your stomach is growling (but not for anything in particular), give yourself seconds of that asparagus.
- If you’re really not hungry at all, wrap up your second plate and put it away.
3. Eat the healthy stuff first.
Start by overloading your plate. Go ahead and serve yourself an extra helping of the healthier stuff. (Remember: healthier usually equals more colorful.)
Next, eat that healthy stuff, keeping in mind eating tip number 2 (slow and steady).
Eat 1/2 of your least healthy item to finish up.
If the healthy parts of your meals are maximized and eaten slowly, your stomach is more likely to catch up to your eating. This means you may not even truly crave the remaining 1/2 of your least healthy item. Can you imagine what that would feel like?!
And there it is. Healthy, actionable diet changes that don’t blow your wallet… or your mind.
Want more diet guidance like this? Read up on our You Chose Meal Plan (no, it’s not something for sale).
What tip do you have for your fellow health and wellness enthusiasts?
What struggles have you faced in trying to make quick, drastic changes to your diet? How about your successes?
Be sure to share any or all of your thoughts in the comments below!