It’s been said “you are what you eat,” and that is true. Although exercise and lifestyle are important to health and wellbeing, nutrition is key to more than body size.
The food you choose not only affects your body size, but it affects your skin, energy levels, immune system, mood and your sleep patterns. It’s not always easy to eat healthy when we’re on the run, and no one wants to adhere to a list of forbidden foods, but there are some simple things we can do that will make a significant difference. The following tips provide you with a start towards positive changes.
There are simple ways to start eating healthy. The first step is to pay attention to the way you’re feeling. Are you tired, sad, sluggish or bloated? Is your skin breaking out, your hair dull and limp, and your finger nails brittle? Often, these symptoms are directly related to what you ate a few hours prior. If you’re eating a lot of refined foods, fast foods, or sugar you will certainly feel badly. The biggest barrier is the fact that we don’t realize that we can feel differently. We can be energetic, light, sharp-minded, happy and rested.
Another step is making gradual change by introducing healthy food to your current diet. It’s unlikely you’ll switch from three slices of pizza at lunch to a salad in two days, but you can make major changes just by adding certain foods. Add greens, grains, fruit and water. If you like eating hamburger and fries, you don’t have to give them up. Just add a side salad or veggies to that meal and pretty soon you won’t be finishing those fries. Experiment with new tastes. Try brown rice over white; sweet potatoes and squash over fries.
Substitute a sweet pear or crisp apple before you reach for those chocolate chip cookies. Add fruit to your diet and you will find yourself craving a cold, juicy orange to those cookies. Mix fresh fruit in yogurt or freeze a banana or red grape and eat them frozen.
Water is key. The human body is made up of mostly water. Drink a glass of water before you eat, and that will help your cravings and give you the water you need. Put a slice of lemon, orange or lime in your water if that seems more appealing. If you drink soda or sports drinks, try substituting it with water or pure fruit juice. Read the labels, fruit juice is just that! If the first ingredient is sugar or corn syrup, or there are ingredients you can’t pronounce, chances are it isn’t a nutritious choice. You’d be surprised to find out that some fruit drinks don’t even have the fruit in it that it is flavored from.
Making healthier substitutes can crush the crave and trim your waist. Cookies and chips are tasty sometimes, but a trail mix that includes nuts, seeds, cranberries, raisins and chocolate can satisfy salt and sweet cravings. Try pretzels and popcorn over potato chips. Choose dark over milk chocolate Switch from sugary cereal in the morning to oatmeal or try whole grain toast with some fruit and yogurt.
Add body movement. The word exercise makes some of us cringe, but rather than forcing yourself to do routine exercises you hate, try taking a walk with friends, maybe hike or go swimming. There is a treasure trove of beauty in nature. Take a bike ride to investigate all the various trees and birds that surround you; walk on the beach and collect seashells.
Don’t judge yourself. If you find yourself binging one night on ice cream or chips, don’t beat yourself up. You’re only human. Take this process one day at time and do your best.
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