How to Make Eating Healthy Things Like Pasta Easy and Realistic

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The most difficult concept about watching what kind of food you consume for more than two weeks straight is accepting that it is not meant to be torture. “People look at eating healthy as a form of punishment, rather than an opportunity to express self-love,” Ilana Muhlstein, R.D., Nutritionist for Explore Cuisine, says.

“We have such major expectations for quick results in our society that if a person doesn't magically drop 5 pounds in 5 minutes, they look at caring for themselves as a waste of time and effort, which is so sad,” she adds.

See: Never Set These Unrealistic Fitness Goals

Measurable results are worth working towards because of the many health benefits of maintaining a normal weight such as better energy, self-confidence and self-care, but it takes patience and persistence.

This is what makes the idea seem unattainable when in fact it’s totally realistic.

Comfort foods

Don’t be afraid of the “comfort foods” temptation. Once a person begins eating healthier and caring more for their bodies, and understanding the benefits of nutrition at a higher degree, “comfort foods” become a lot less comforting all together, Muhlstein says.

See: The 22 Worst Things You Can Do For Your Body

“My clients and I still, of course, have special treats from time to time but we just approach it with a different psyche. It doesn't become a way of rebelling or overindulging, it doesn't feel sinful or like the most exciting part of the day, it just becomes a nice enjoyable bite or two so you can then move on and focus on life's greater indulgences like good friends, family, and a sense of self.”

About the ingredients label

When reading an ingredients label, you just want to look for ingredients that you know and recognize well, Muhlstein says. Some personal trainers would never eat foods if they don’t recognize some of what’s in it.

See: Explaining FDA's New Nutrition Facts Label

“For instance, Explore Cuisine’s black bean Spaghetti's only ingredients are Organic Black beans and water, and it literally tastes as delicious as pasta but is a million times more filling, satisfying, and nutritious,” she adds.

The scale is not the enemy

Muhlstein is a big fan of the scale. “I have lost and kept off almost 100 pounds and have never been scared of the scale along the way,” she says. “I find that people are in tune with a scale when they are doing a formal weight loss program but then completely forget about it once they stop. This is one of the reasons why major diet rebounds occur,” Muhlstein says.

Her experience has shown that the longer a person goes without knowing their actual weight, the more weight they can gain, and the scarier their relationship with the scale becomes. Hopping on the scale once a week helps present a degree of accountability and keeps people from ever “relapsing” too far.

See: Best Superfoods for Weight Loss

“Because, honestly, what's a whole package of Oreos and container of ice cream if you aren’t planning on going on the scale for 6 months? It kind of doesn't mean anything. But if you actually go on the scale a few days after, and see what a one-day relapse can do physically, you remember how horrible it also made you feel emotionally, and you are less inclined to repeat those unhealthy behaviors.”

“Explore” new foods

Most people eat the same foods if they are trying to stay healthy. Once they find food that are not classified as “bad,” that help you meet your health goals, are enjoyable, and is easy to prep, the menu is set.

See: 10 Genius Ways to Eat More Fruits & Veggies Every Day

“This is when I have to subtly encourage [clients] to ‘widen their net’ and explore other foods that give them the same results,” Muhlstein says. “For instance, some of my weight loss clients are scared of the Explore Cuisine Black Bean Spaghetti because it tastes so much like pasta and they are used to associating a dinner with pasta with a previous history of weight gain. This particular product is one I beg my clients to ‘widen the net’ with and test out for themselves.

Muhlstein tells clients that as long as they drink water before the meal and fill their pasta dish with vegetables they will likely still lose weight and feel great the next day. And if they experiment and continue to feel good, then they can add this awesome new food into their repertoire of easy, healthy and delicious meal ideas.

Trick to keep the portion sizes smaller

Muhlstein’s catchphrase is always “water first, veggies most” because if everyone always committed to drinking a minimum of 16 ounces of water before every meal, and made sure that their meals and snacks consisted of vegetables more so than other foods, they would never have to overthink their portion control. “It would just happen organically,” she adds.

More readings:

Best 21 Nutrition Tips from Nutritionists

Health Habits You Need to Break Before Turning 40

16 Surprising Habits that Are Aging You

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