These healthy eating tips may be simple reminders of things most of us already know, but may or may not actually do. Following are some basic recommendations for improving your diet adapted from the Top 10 Rules for Eating Right by Dr. David Katz. I don’t agree with all of his guidelines, so I’ve morphed it into something that from my perspective is more palatable.
1. Use smaller plates
This is so very simple yet effective, especially if you tend to be a finish-your-entire-plate kind of eater. It really works. You’ll be surprised.
2. Make half of every meal fruits or vegetables
Taking this one step could potentially transform your entire diet. Unlike using smaller plates, this recommendation is not always easy for someone who does not currently consume many fruits or vegetables. It may involve increased food preparation and planning. For those who need more of this good stuff (and by vegetables I don’t mean half a plate of potatoes), the healthy improvements in your skin, energy level and overall health will likely be a welcome result.
The one caveat I have for this tip is about eating fruit with meals. Many in the health food industry believe that combining fruit with other foods results in difficult or ineffective digestion. If your body lets you know that this does not work for you, then simply eat the fruit separately about 30 minutes before a meal or a couple of hours afterward.
3. Bring along nutritious snacks
Make a habit of bringing healthy snacks with you so that in a pinch, you’ll have some nuts, dried fruit, or some other densely nutritious snack to appease your hunger. It will save you time from having to purchase something while out, and you’ll be able to have some control over the quality of your food by being proactive. If possible, even on the run, give yourself a few quiet minutes to just sit, eat and relax.
4. Read ingredients and choose foods with short ingredient lists and identifiable whole foods
So many people do not read the ingredient lists of the foods they eat, blindly trusting the clever packaging that screams “healthy!” or “natural!”, when in fact the food may be a far cry from this. It’s a great habit to get into, and will begin to raise your awareness about what you are putting into your body.
5. Take an extra ten to fifteen minutes a day to prepare healthier meals
It takes less time than you may think to put together a meal that is both nutritious and delicious. The internet is full of sites devoted to quick and healthy meals.
6. Start listening to your body’s hunger and satiety signals
Do you lose track of time and forget to eat? When the noon hour rolls around, do you reach for lunch based on the clock like one of Pavlov’s dogs? Learning to tune into your body and find out when you’re really hungry is not something that comes naturally to many. If you’re out of touch with these parts of yourself, it’s worth it to start checking in with your body hourly to see if you’re really hungry or not. Likewise, when you are eating, checking in and stopping before you are too full will do wonders for your eating habits.
7. Pay attention to your food and the eating experience
Mindless eating while watching TV, playing on the computer or reading all take your attention away from the present moment. This tip is one of the most challenging for people if they are used to being distracted while eating. As you begin to become more conscious of the entire eating experience, you will increase and hone your own inner wisdom regarding the quantity and quality of what you are consuming. It will be much easier to notice when you are hungry or full. Slow down a bit, chew your food well, and your digestive system will thank you.