Eat Healthier, Easier
We all want to eat better, exercise more, and generally live a healthier lifestyle. Who doesn’t want to feel better, look more attractive, and live longer? Yet too often we find ourselves quickly defeated by inertia. Changing habits can be a difficult proposition. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. Here are 5 easy ways to improve your diet:
1) Try Different Protein Sources
Protein is one of the most important macronutrient groups in our diets. Changing up our habits to include healthier protein sources like beans, nuts, peas, and tofu not only improves our nutrient profile, it also adds some much needed variety to tired eats.
The next time you’re making stir-fry, try throwing in some wonderfully nutty tempeh. Or make a lentil or bean soup instead of one with meat. Veggie product substitutes have also gotten surprisingly tasty as more and more companies have innovated to meet increased market demands. You’ll be amazed at how good some veggie burgers taste–and thankful for a novel option.
2) Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense, low calorie foods that are essential to a healthy diet. They provide crucial vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and fiber.
Greens are rife with important nutrients like calcium, potassium, vitamins A, C, E and K, and iron. If you have trouble getting excited at the prospect of more lettuce in your diet, mix it up with novel alternatives like arugula, kale, collard greens, and broccoli.
Eating a diverse selection of fruit is a delicious way to enhance your intake of vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C. They’re a great dessert substitute when you find yourself craving sugar. If you can get yourself to replace the ice cream and cookies with oranges and mangos, you’ll quickly find yourself craving healthy foods!
3) Eat Healthier Carbs Like Whole Grains
Whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables contain more complex, healthier carbohydrates than processed carbs like non-whole grain pastas, breads, and cereals. They take longer to digest, which means they will keep you satisfied longer, in addition to providing excellent sources of antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fibers. These all help with cardiovascular health, as well as diabetes and some forms of cancer.
Experiment with different kinds of grains like quinoa, whole wheat, and barley. Every time of whole grain has a distinct and delightful flavor all its own–there’s no reason they should be limited to the realm of the health nut.
4) Replace Unhealthy Fats With Healthy Fats
Not all types of fat are unhealthy. Let’s not forget that fat is an important part of any diet, after all. While saturated and transaturated fats can cause high cholesterol, weight gain, and more troubling health issues, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats actually have beneficial effects.
Canola oil, peanut oil, olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds are all rich in monounsaturated fats, which help maintain good cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats (such as those much-hyped Omega-3 fatty acids) can be found in oily fish like salmon, sardines, and anchovies, as well as sunflower, corn, soybean, and flaxseed oils. These help prevent cardiovascular disease, among other benefits.
Replacing trans and saturated fats from processed foods, red meat, and whole milk dairy products with these alternatives is a great way to improve your diet.
5) Downsize Your Portions
This is probably the least popular option, but one of the most important. Most Americans consume well beyond the amount of calories that their bodies need. Especially if you live a largely sedentary lifestyle (hey, it’s okay, a lot of us work in offices or at home these days), reducing your food intake to be better aligned with your needs will help you lose weight and have more energy. A well adjusted diet can have dramatically beneficial results.
[Photocredit: Akbar99; FitnessMantra; BuildingMuscleGuide]