For almost everyone, building healthier eating habits is typically something that’s much easier said than done.
We set out with the best intentions, but when common obstacles are thrown into the mix it’s way too easy to cave and fall off track.
One part of eating healthy that’s not mentioned very often, though, is the fact that it’s not really about willpower (think, fending off the urge to indulge in the donuts your coworker brought to share with the office). More so, it’s about balance (think, having just half of one of those sweet, delicious donuts and following up with a nutritious salad later for lunch).
So, how exactly do you embrace and establish this healthy “balancing act?” Well, like any new habit, it certainly takes some practice and definitely requires that you’re more mindful of your food choices.
But, in addition to being more mindful and practicing balance, you can also incorporate a few habits that are simpler than say, overhauling your entire diet in one day (which is not a sustainable approach, by the way). By slowly incorporating these lesser-known healthy eating habits into your daily routine, one-by-one, you can gradually adopt an overall healthier diet and ultimately, master the art of truly healthy eating.
Below, Welltok health coach Carrie Williams shares her top six habits that can help you learn to embrace a healthier way of eating.
1. Use a smaller plate. "Many of us, since we were small, were taught to 'clean our plates,'" Williams explained. "We still practice this as adults and that gets us in trouble when portion sizes have more than doubled in the past few decades. Use a small salad plate instead. Your plate looks full and you’ll consume fewer calories."
2. Invest in two good water bottles. "Keep one in your car and one at your desk at work," Williams said. "If you see them you are more likely to remember to drink water. Dehydration makes it harder to concentrate, harder to stay energized and your body has to work harder to function efficiently. Drinking enough water is one of the easiest things you can do to feel better almost instantly. It can also help with weight loss if that’s a goal for you."
3. Do cat/cow stretches. "Keeping your spine healthy is one of the easiest and most important things you can do to maintain your health. If your spine isn’t healthy and you suffer from back pain, it can impact almost every area of your life," Williams said. "Your spine needs motion to help nutrients get into your intervertebral discs. If you aren’t moving your spine much, like when you sit all day in the same position at your desk, your spine doesn’t get the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and repair damage."
"Start doing these simple stretches right now: bend over and put your hands on your knees. Arch your back pushing your belly button towards the floor (this looks like a cow with a sagging spine). Then arch your back in the opposite direction pulling your belly button to the ceiling (this looks like a cat arching its spine upwards). Do this slowly and gently 5 to 10 times in succession. Do this first thing in the morning, during the day at work and before you go to bed. You really can’t do this too often."
4. Be lazy with your vegetables. "People constantly cite the prep time for cutting up vegetables as a major contributor to why they don’t eat them," Williams explained. "So stop prepping them. Who says you have to cut a cucumber to eat it? Eat it like an apple. The same goes for peppers. Break off florets of broccoli and cauliflower or buy the pre-cut/pre-packaged veggies. Of course you should wash produce first, but who says you can’t just take a bag of carrots to work or a whole cucumber? Stop wasting time “prepping” your vegetables. You have more important things to do."
5. Learn to like black coffee. "If you don’t already drink your coffee black, train yourself," Williams said. "Sure it might be an acquired taste, but the benefits are significant. It’s cheaper than fancy drinks with syrups and cream or milk. Plus, it has significantly less calorie and it also jump-starts your digestive system in the morning."
6. Stop with the sugar already! The benefits of eliminating sugar from your diet are profound and well documented: more energy, clearer skin, reduced anxiety, better sleep, better concentration, weight loss, reduced or elimination of cravings, money savings, etc…Did I mention more energy ? This one might not be as easy as the rest, but it will make the biggest difference!