Every once in a while, we decide that we’re going to stop eating junk and chance our whole diet to fit our weight or health goals. We cut off on the hamburgers, the ice-cream, and the fat food, and go full power on the spinach, the kale smoothies, and we even throw some quinoa in that equation. But soon enough, here we find ourselves again, eating our weight in cheese or chocolate as a midnight snack while watching too many episodes of Friends (or is that just me?)
The problem with this is that we see healthy eating as a diet, as a mean to an end (losing weight, staying fit, fitting into those jeans etc…), but instead of looking at it that way, why don’t we change our perspective and make healthy eating a way of life? And you know what? You’ll even get to eat chocolate and cake without feeling guilty. Isn’t that amazing?
Why eating healthy?
I mean you could argue that you can spend your whole life eating junk and stay fit if you work out enough. But that’s exactly what’s wrong with this philosophy. Eating healthy is not about being skinnier or staying fit, it’s about living a good life and feeling comfortable.
Healthy eating has many benefits, not only does is help you keep off excessive weight and stay overall physically healthy, it also has great influence on your emotions and mental health.
Indeed, studies have proven that there is a relationship between a Western diet (processed, greasy food, lack of vegetables, overly sweet food) and mental issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and stress.
On the other hand, reducing your refined sugar intake and eating more fruits and vegetables and less carbohydrates (but not cutting them off entirely) has been shown to benefit the mood and mental health of people overall.
Contrary to popular belief, having a healthy diet isn’t difficult, since it’s not all counting calories or depriving yourself from that sweet sweet cake.
And most importantly, remember one thing: this is not a diet, so you don’t have to beat yourself for eating some candy or a pizza, as long as you’re being reasonable and follow certain basic rules.
How to start eating healthy?
Focus on the right changes to make
One way to balance your diet is to replace some things you eat with what we can call their “better version”. So for example, if you love eating toast in the morning, instead of using white bread toast, eat the whole grain version of it, it’s just as good and more filling. Every unhealthy thing that you eat has a healthier alternative.
Use brown sugar or honey instead of white sugar, dark chocolate instead of its sweeter version, use oatmeal to make your pancakes instead of white floor. The possibilities are endless, so be sure to have fun and diversify while cooking for yourself, it will make your experience even more enjoyable.
Drink enough water
We often forget how important water is, and yet, it’s the one thing we need to stay alive. Not only that, but also gets rid of the toxins in our body, and one big glass of water every morning is always good to get you started. It wakes up your whole system without attacking it.
Dehydration can cause tiredness and headaches, so always remember to drink 8 glasses a day at least.
Prepare your meals at home
This way, you’ll be able to monitor what you’re eating better, and you’ll take charge of what you’re putting in your body. Eating out once in a while doesn’t hurt of course, but try to make more food at home, this way, you’re sure you’re eating healthy.
Never think “cake is off limit”
Or any other kind of “unhealthy” food. Some candy once in a while will not kill you or ruin your health, since as we all know it, moderation is key.
Studies have shown that once you ban a certain kind of food, you actually start craving it more, and are in risk of binge-eating it while crying in the middle of your kitchen at 2 AM. We all know it, people always want what’s forbidden; we can’t help it, human beings love a good challenge.
To trick your brain, try to reduce your intake of unhealthy food, but not ban it indefinitely. Soon, a portion of fried chicken will not be a daily thing, but only something you indulge in a time or two a month. You’ll also find yourself craving this kind of food less, so it’s like killing two birds with one stone. Pretty smart, eh?
Smaller portions in smaller plates
If you use big plates, your brain is tricked into thinking that you don’t have enough food to satisfy your hunger, which is why you should try and use smaller plates that will contain smaller portions of food which will still look generous enough for your stomach.
Eating slowly helps you get satisfied on a smaller portion of food, since the human brain needs at least 20 minutes of chewing before repressing the feeling of hunger. Make sure to eat slowly, at least chewing every bite for 30 times, to breathe, and most importantly, remember not to drink water during a meal, but always before or after it.
Stock up on the fruits and vegetables
Always make your plate colorful by making half of it vegetables and fruits. Orange and red vegetables, greens, legumes, and fruits are full of vitamins and antioxidants. The more colorful, the better, since you’ll be getting different types of vitamins.
You can also eat fruits as a side dish during your meal, or before it, or after it as desert, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t matter when you eat your fruits as long as you do it! So go on and dive into that basket of strawberry! You can thank us later.
Try to cut back on sugar as much as you can, but try to cut if off at once. Reduce it little by little, by adding less sugar to your morning coffee, make natural fruit juice without adding sugar to it (fruits can give you all the sweetness you need), avoid processed food as it contains big amounts of sugar (especially food like ketchup, breakfast cereals, canned soup, frozen pizzas etc…).
We tend to eat sweet food when we’re stressed, as a way to cope with it. So, whenever you get this kind of craving, try breathing instead and getting a cup of tisane with honey and some lemon for the taste.
We also don’t think about it, but we consume a lot of sugar when snacking. This is one of the easiest ways to forget yourself, and it’s why we have some healthy snacks ideas for you, you’re welcome!
Healthy snacks for every situation
When you’re craving a donut at work
Instead of jumping on that box of pastries in the office (and we know it’s difficult to resist), try taking with you pumpkin or sunflower seeds to work. Not only are they filling and delicious, but the efforts that it takes to eat them (opening the seeds) will give you a routine that will make you forget your cravings.
You can also turn to oatmeal. It’s not just for breakfast, and instant oatmeal with a little honey and cinnamon can be a delicious afternoon snack. It’s filling and healthy, and that’s exactly what we’re all looking for!
And if oatmeal isn’t your thing, you can always try nuts and dried fruits. Nuts like almonds have many proteins in them, which is good for your body. You can also eat a combination of dried fruits and nuts for a sweet and yet healthy mid-afternoon snack.
If you’re trying to lose weight
There are a lot of healthy snacks for weight loss, and here are some of the best, that combine healthy and delicious, just the way we life them!
An apple is always the way to go (or any fruit really), they are a good source of vitamins and natural sugar. For a dose of protein, think about adding some peanut butter to that.
Another alternative is going for canned tuna and crackers, that way, you get your daily dose of Omega 3 and lean proteins without breaking your wallet.
If you love fresh food, think about making yourself a red fruits smoothie. A few strawberries, berries, cherries, a Greek yogurt, some honey, mix everything, and enjoy your snack.
Here are a few more snacks ideas for work.
Some healthy snack ideas for children
Learning to eat healthy starts from childhood, and if your kids are used to moderation in food, they will grow up with the same principles as you when it comes to food, which is why we’re sharing those healthy snacks ideas with you.
If your children don’t like fruits and vegetables, try baking them in a cake or a gratin. They will never know they’re eating those veggies they hate. It’s a good way to combine healthy and delicious food for a smart afternoon snack.
If it’s hot, and your kids are not into yogurt, try making yogurt popsicles by freezing some yogurt and berries or make a smoothie using it with some fruits and granola. They will crazy for it, that’s for sure!
We all know that kids love chips, and the greasier they are, the better. An alternative to this is sweet potato chips that can be baked in the oven. Not only are they delicious, they’re also packed with vitamins!
For more children friendly snacks, click here.
What about diabetic people?
Worry not, even if you suffer from diabetes, you can still get your mid-day snack without worrying about your health. Here are some easy to make, healthy snacks that you can eat at work or during breaks at school:
Try microwave popcorn, not only is it a great source of fiber, it’s also an alternative to sweet and rich snacks that you are not allowed to eat. You can also add some paprika on it for the taste; it will fill you up for the rest of the afternoon!
You can also grab some grapes and cheese, the combination of sweet and savory is delicious and you’ll get your daily dose of proteins and calcium!
If you’re feeling hunger strike during the afternoon, try some freshly cut vegetables with a yogurt dip, for a good doze of enzymes, minerals, proteins, and vitamins!
For more snacks, check out this list.
You should never forget that eating healthy is not a diet, it’s a way of living. And if you want your body to thank you, try combining it with daily exercise. Just 30 minutes a day of walking, running, or cardio exercise can do wonders.
Another idea to eat more healthily is to keep a journal that tracks everything you eat during the day, this way, you’ll know when to balance your intake of proteins, when to eat less during diner (because you’ve had two pieces of cake during the day), or which kind of food you’re lacking and should try to add to your diet.
Do not forget that eating healthily should never be the means to an end for you, but a way of living life to the most and keeping your body and brains healthy.
A combination of this kind of diet, exercise, and some meditation will not only lower the lever of stress in your life, but will also help you cope with whatever emotional difficulties you might go through later, since food can greatly influence our mood and make it easier for us to deal with life.