While many individuals may not be making formal New Year's resolutions this year, others may resolve to improve their eating habits. But this motivation is frequently focused on an overly ambitious or restrictive diet. Without a solid plan, it is possible to fail quickly. Consider a compromise: Begin by incorporating these three simple methods for a healthier diet.
Aim only for real food.
Note what is processed and what is unprocessed on your plate. Maybe it's the entire meal (like a frozen dinner), or perhaps it's just a portion (like the bottled dressing on your salad). Consider where you can replace processed foods with healthier alternatives. Ideas comprise
eating whole-grain pasta instead of enriched white-flour pasta, quinoa instead of white rice, and making homemade snacks like baked chickpeas instead of opening a bag of potato chips.
Chronic inflammation and other health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, are associated with the consumption of processed foods. A Mediterranean-style diet rich in vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, fish, poultry, and low-fat dairy products is one of the healthiest diets you can consume (milk, yogurt, and small amounts of cheese).
Plan your meals and snacks in advance.
Set timers on your phone for three separate meals and (if necessary) two snacks, and don't eat in between. This may curb your cravings, reduce anxiety about when you'll eat next, and reduce the extra calories from unnecessary snacking—a real challenge if you're at home all day and have access to a refrigerator.
Avoid eating or snacking late at night, when your body's internal clock (circadian rhythm) senses that you should be sleeping. "As part of the process of eliminating toxins during sleep, our circadian sleep period is characterised by a slowed metabolism, slowed digestion, and a decrease in brain temperature." Eating outside of our normal circadian awake phase results in weight gain, as Dr. Lawrence Epstein, an associate physician with the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women's Hospital, a hospital affiliated with Harvard, explains.
Reduce your serving sizes.
If you're like the majority of Americans, you consume too much food. A simple way to implement portion control is to fill your plate as usual, then remove one-third to one-half of the food. Other thoughts:
Use a salad plate rather than a dinner plate to trick yourself into eating less.
Don't keep serving bowls on the table so you won't be tempted to eat more.
Do not linger at the table and continue to eat when you are full.
Additionally, knowing how many calories you should consume per day will be helpful. For instance, if you're supposed to consume 2,000 calories per day but are consuming 3,000, it's probably time to reduce your portion sizes by a third. How do you determine your caloric needs? This body weight planner can assist in achieving a healthy balance between diet and exercise.
Take one step per week as a final thought.
You need not implement all of these steps at once; try implementing one step per week. Record what you are eating along with your thoughts and questions about the process. Assess what worked and what did not work after one week. You will soon have the courage to attempt new steps.