We all want to be healthy. Part of being healthy is having a good diet. There’s so much information about nutrition out there, and it often feels as if it’s always changing that it’s hard to know what’s good and what’s bad for us.
Chances are you’ve changed, or at least attempted to change, your diet once or twice in your lifetime. However, rather than making lasting change, we often make drastic choices to drop a few pounds. At some point, the change becomes unsustainable, and we go back to our old ways.
If this sounds familiar to you, the problem isn’t necessarily the diet you’re attempting to incorporate into your life. More likely, it’s the way you’re going about it. Very few of us can make major, long-term changes to our diet without also changing our lifestyle. The good news is that change is possible. The bad news is that change isn’t always easy. But by changing more than the food, you can succeed.
Change the Way You Shop
The truth is, shopping habits are often where we get into trouble. We make all kinds of mistakes. We shop when we’re hungry. We don’t make a list. We rush to the store after work and just grab whatever is easiest to make for dinner that night.
The first thing you need to do is make a plan. Choose a time to shop when you’ll have enough time to get everything on your list. This, of course, means you must actually make a list. The most effective grocery list will reflect a healthy, well-considered meal plan for the week.
If you’re having trouble making healthy decisions as you walk up and down the aisles, try only shopping the perimeter of the store. The perimeter is where stores stock vegetables, fruit, dairy, meat and breads. These are the foundations of a healthy meal and will help you avoid processed or frozen foods.
Cook at Home
The commitment to cooking your meals at home will change your life. Not only does it increase the likelihood you’ll take in healthier food, but it also raises the chances you’ll enjoy more time with friends and family around the table. Both are key ingredients to a life of wellness.
Cooking at home requires some forethought, but it doesn’t have to be time consuming or complicated. Your specific circumstances will dictate the best way for you to accomplish cooking at home. Perhaps meal prepping once a week is what you need to do to have ingredients ready to go on the night you need them.
Or maybe you want to do one big cooking day every few weeks and freeze the meals you make to be warmed up in the oven later. It’s also possible you’ll find you actually enjoy prepping and cooking a meal each evening. Whatever your strategy, the important thing is that it’s doable and makes eating at home easier, not harder.
Read the Labels
This is an important step to changing your diet. Read the label of every food item or ingredient that comes into your home. A good rule of thumb is if it includes more than five ingredients or you can’t pronounce any of the listed ingredients, you shouldn’t eat that food or use that ingredient to make your food.
This rule is helpful because items with more than five ingredients you can’t pronounce are often overly processed foods that just won’t provide you with the most nutritional bang for your buck.
Learn to Love Whole Foods
However, a love for whole, organic, non-GMO foods will definitely give you enormous nutritional bang for your buck. Whole foods are anything in its natural state (or close to it), such as an apple, raw and simple. When you embrace the world of whole food, you’re simultaneously rejecting processed food.
Processed food usually refers to food that has been altered in ways that make it less nutritionally desirable. Many food manufacturers add ingredients to increase the shelf life of an item or to enhance its taste. But what is lost during that process is the nearly perfect state food comes in when it’s fresh from the ground or vine.
While the switch to a diet of whole foods may feel bland or boring at first, after some time you’ll find your body begins to crave the freshness. Processed food will take on a whole new taste, and you’ll actually be able to sense the false ingredients.
One of the great perks of living in the modern age is the accessibility of technological aids. Technology has quickly infiltrated every part of our lives, and food and nutrition are no exception.
Everything from meal planning calendars to nutritional information to recipe finding is available as an application for your tablet, phone or other device. You can even sync family members together for easier planning.
While technology can be a useful tool in your healthy eating quest, you do need to keep in mind that every time you download something from the internet, whether it’s an app or a recipe or some other tool, the potential for someone to hack your phone or spread a virus exists. To avoid this, just make sure you always connect in a secure way that protects whatever private information you keep on your phone.
Everything in Moderation
As you begin the process to change not only your diet but your lifestyle, you’ll discover that if you’re too strict with yourself, you’ll feel less inclined to continue with the healthy changes you’ve made.
For that reason, it’s important to remember a healthy diet doesn’t mean you avoid sugar or alcohol or a frozen pizza forever. It means these things become what they are intended to be: occasional treats. When these food choices move from staples in your daily diet to occasional indulgences, you’ll feel a lot better, and you’ll know you’ve made a change you can live with.
Remember, changing your diet doesn’t have to equate to extreme measures you won’t be able to maintain. If you make lifestyle choices to support your desire for healthier food, you’ll find the diet change far more sustainable.
How about you? What tricks have you used to make eating healthier just a little easier?
About the Author: Caroline is a health and tech blogger. She is an advocate for healthy living and enjoys cooking tasty, nutritious recipes and being active outdoors. She likes to share her tips with others so they can live healthy, happy lives.