Your 20s are exciting, confusing, and sometimes even chaotic, which is why it might seem out of the question to think about making serious changes to your eating habits.
But research suggests that if you want to hold on to healthy habits later in life, it's probably smartest to start building them now.
But instead of trying to figure out whether you should eat gluten-free, completely cut out carbs, or sign on for the latest juice cleanse, you can follow these simple tips that can help make healthy eating hassle-free.
1. Pay attention to your sugar intake.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the average American consumes about 88 grams of sugar a day, which is far beyond what many experts recommend. In fact, in a report released this week, the World Health Organization outlines new guidelines for sugar consumption, recommending that no more than 10 percent (or about 50 grams) of your calories come from sugar. Going even further, though, the report says it would be more ideal if sugar consumption could be reduced to just 5 percent (or about 25 grams), and not just as a means of preventing obesity and diabetes, but also because of the possible effects it can have on improving overall general health.
2. Cut back on alcohol.
One drink a day for women and two for men may actually help to lower the risk of heart failure, but beyond that threshold there may be an increased risk for other issues. According to a study in the European Heart Journal heavy drinking (more than 21 drinks a week) was linked to higher rates of all-cause mortality.
3. Practice mindful eating.
Of course the quality and quantity of the foods you eat are an important part of maintaining a healthy diet, but you should also consider how the manner in which you eat your food (setting, speed, etc.) affects your diet and eating habits. Learning to pay closer attention to your hunger cues and making a point to enjoy the tastes, smells, and textures of your food—or eating mindfully—can help you control your portion sizes so that instead of approaching food with a restrictive mindset, you can eat more of the foods you love (even if they're not the most nutritious) but still maintain a healthy weight because you’re more in tune with your body and how much you really need to eat.
4. Eat more whole foods.
Alright, so maybe this is easier said than done. After all, no one said that choosing fresh vegetables over ordering Dominos was an easy choice to make. But including more whole foods in your diet, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources, is a simple way to ensure your body is getting the essential minerals and nutrients it needs to stay healthy.