Now that the holiday season and its never-ending supply of parties and gift baskets is behind you, it’s time to get prioritize our nutrition. So in the spirit of helping you to reach your goals and keep your resolutions, I’ve compiled a list of tips of healthier eating strategies. These tips will be helpful to you no matter what your health and nutritional goals are because they aren’t targeted towards a particular diet. Good nutrition is universal. So, here it goes:
1. Don’t skip breakfast. Everyone says that it’s the most important meal of the day, and they’re right. If you don’t eat within 60 minutes of waking, your body goes into starvation mode and holds onto fat cells. Eat something low in sugar and high in protein to kick your metabolism into high gear for the whole day.
2. More meals throughout the day. Break up your food throughout the day, rather than downing 1000 calories at once. Smaller, more frequent meals will keep your blood sugar within that sweet spot where your body is breaking down fat, rather than storing it for later, or worse, attacking muscle for a quicker source of energy.
3. Better portion sizes. Ever wonder why European people are so skinny? On average, American portion sizes are 15%-20% more than European ones. So instead of finishing the bag or cleaning your plate, eat until you feel full and quit while you’re ahead. You can always eat more later when you’re hungry again.
4. Try to plan ahead. Let’s face it, our biggest enemy to eating healthy is time. Try cooking in advance, like preparing a whole week’s worth of food on Sunday. If you’re not that much of a planner, you can portion your different vegetables and only cook basic proteins and grains beforehand to turn into a variety of dishes later, making meal time easier and simpler.
5. Enjoy your food. Eat your food on a plate and with silverware and sit down at a table. Chew slower. Try to avoid distractions during this time, and actually pay attention to how good your food tastes. This way you’ll be giving your body time to recognize when it’s full, and you might even enjoy your meals more.
6. Snack first. Taking the kids for fast food? Got a work party to go to? Eat before you leave for any destination where you’re likely to overeat and the food isn’t going to be necessarily healthy. You’ll be less hungry when you get there, so you’ll be more likely to make smarter choices.
7. Satisfy the craving. If you deprive yourself of something you love, you’re more likely to binge later. Instead, give into it. Eat the thing you want but only in moderation. Or try swapping your cravings for healthier options like replacing soda for ice tea or swap candy for a granola bar.
Ultimately, the more eating right feels like work, the less likely you are to stick with it. So set small goals that you can easily reach, don’t deprive yourself of the food you really want, and realize that whatever you’re doing is better than doing nothing. Good luck and Happy New Year!