Eating healthy can mean a lot of different things to many people. It’s important to create healthy eating habits for yourself so you can maintain a healthy weight and prevent health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. But creating new eating habits can be difficult, especially when you’re accustomed to eating certain foods.
Here are 5 good eating habits to help you start making healthier choices:
1. Eat a wide variety of foods from each food group every day (not just one or two)
This is a simple but effective way to improve your diet. Eating a variety of foods from all five food groups ensures you get enough of the nutrients your body needs to function properly and fight off diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
2. Have a snack after each meal to keep you feeling full and satisfied
This will help stop you from overeating at your next meal or consuming too much fat and calories during the day, which can increase your risk of heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Aim for small, frequent snacks of fruit or vegetables and low-kilojoule foods, such as nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy products to avoid cravings and keep you satisfied between meals.
3. Be in the moment when you eat
It’s easy to lose sight of what’s going on at the table when you’re busy with work, socialising or even watching TV. This means you may eat more than you need without realising it. Instead, tune into what you’re actually hungry for and eat slowly to allow yourself time to enjoy the flavors, textures and aromas of your food, says Lytwyn.
4. Eat mindfully when you eat
To better tune into your feelings of hunger and satiety, try to take a more leisurely European approach to mealtime, where you pause and fully appreciate each bite, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
5. Make a shopping list before you shop
When you have a specific plan for what to eat and when, it’s less likely you’ll be caught unprepared and be tempted by unhealthy snacks or fast food. It’s also a great way to save money and use up what’s in your pantry, recommends Heller.
6. Bring your lunch with you wherever you go
It’s not always easy to stay on track at work or school, but packing a healthy, balanced meal can make it easier. Plus, it helps you avoid the temptation of junk foods and processed snacks, which can be high in sugar and fats.
7. Have a glass of water before you eat
Drinking a cup of water before you eat can help you determine whether or not you’re actually hungry, suggests Physiology & Behavior, an academic journal. About 60% of people inappropriately respond to thirst by eating, so having a glass of water before your meal can help you avoid overeating and gaining weight.
In addition, drinking water before you eat can help you stay more alert and productive at work. It can also boost your immune system and reduce your blood pressure, which is a common risk factor for heart disease.