We all want to be at our optimum health. Some people are closer than others in reaching this goal, and this very idea may be the discouraging deterrent for you. Are you comparing yourself to others and feeling like you could never be “that healthy” or have an appropriate weight?
The greatest success comes from small improvements over time until they become habit or a typical lifestyle for you. Several months ago, I stopped putting my repetitive one tablespoon of sugar in my coffee every morning. Sure, I love the sweetened taste, but did I really need that sugar? Would it improve my health by omitting it? Yes! Even though it is just a mere sixty calories that I am forfeiting, if I make small improvements such as that, and do it often enough, that is major improvement over time.
When we dial in on our eating habits, surely there are things that can be altered. I am going to list some ideas here for you to consider. Perhaps select one or two and try applying them to your life. Once you feel it has become habit, select a few more to add in. Small Improvements:
- Eat what you love, but about half of the portion.
- Eat slowly and mindfully.
- Have an open face sandwich with one piece of bread instead of two.
- Drink water instead of juice, soda or other sweetened beverages.
- Be cautious about condiments. They contribute a great deal of fat and unnecessary calories. Use fresh herbs and natural elements to season. Salsa, mustard’s, lemon, limes, spices, vinegars and healthy oils, are all great ways to season. If you love mayonnaise and dressings, just use less.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables for snacks instead of high calorie dense, processed foods such as pre-made cookies, crackers, candy, cakes, donuts, pastries, chips, most “granola bars.”
- Respond to hunger cues verses emotional provokers.
- Make time for movement in your life to burn excess fat and promote strong healthy bones. Find an accountable partner to walk, run, swim or exercise with.
- Prepare your own food so you know what is going into it.
- Pack your lunch instead of eating out to avoid excess fat and sodium, which is found in a lot of fast food chains.
- Eat snacks throughout the day to prevent overeating at meal time. (Fruit, cheese, a small handful of nuts, granola, dried whole grain cereals, pre-cut vegetable sticks, dried fruits.)
- Avoid trans-fat, hydrogenated fats and foods that are highly processed.
- Read the ingredient list of foods. Avoid foods that are full of unfamiliar names or words as these are likely highly processed and carry all sorts of chemicals, dyes and additives.
- Choose WHOLE grains over processed, refined carbohydrates to provide excess fiber, nutrients and sustain fullness. Look for the words “100% whole…..”
- Drink skim milk or 1 % instead of 2% or whole milk. If you drink soy, rice or almond milk, select unsweetened.
- Use lean meats and trim excess fat before cooking.
- Go meatless occasionally or substitute more fish and vegetables instead of a large portion of meat.
- Grill, broil, steam or bake instead of repetitive, frequent frying.
- Limit alcohol as it is metabolized similar to fat.
- Nuts, all natural peanut butter and cheese are all healthy protein options, but are still high in fat; careful to watch your serving size and frequency.
These are just some of the ways that you can alter your daily habits to make small improvements turn into major life changing events. Stay focused and positive, set your goals, and over time, you can turn your healthier choices into a practical, healthful lifestyle one small improvement at a time.