What you eat has a huge impact on your physical and mental health. Here are 18 ways to modify your eating habits and improve your overall well-being
What you eat has a huge impact on your physical and mental health. But for many people, living a fast-paced lifestyle can trap you in a vicious cycle of unhealthy eating habits. The good news is that with a little effort, you can break the cycle. Here are 18 ways to modify your eating habits and improve your overall well-being.
18 ways to modify your eating habits
- Keep a food diary: Keep a record of everything you eat and take a look at it at the end of the day. This can help you be more aware of your food choices and identify where you may need to adjust.
- Make healthy choices: You may love potatoes, but there is a huge difference in calorie content between a baked potato and a plate of French fries. Similarly, two boiled eggs contain 140 calories and 14 grams of protein, whereas a small bag of chips contains 140 calories but very few nutrients. Make healthier choices that keep you full for longer and fuel your body with valuable vitamins and minerals.
- Go slow and be consistent: If you are used to heavy meals and processed foods, you won’t be able to quit cold turkey. Start by making small changes and be consistent, as this can help with developing healthier eating habits.
- Eat mindfully: Emotional eating is common, but it can be a major hurdle in your fitness journey. Ask yourself whether you are really hungry or just eating because you are bored, sad, or distracted. Pay attention to your body as you’re eating, and stop when you are full.
- Avoid distractions: Mealtime should be reserved for eating. Avoid watching TV or checking your phone while you are eating so that you can practice mindful eating and fully focus on the foods you are putting in your body.
- Eat slowly: Digestion begins from the mouth. Chewing your food slowly ensures that your food is digested properly and your satiety centers are signaled when full. Moreover, it helps your mouth appreciate the textures of different foods.
- Stay hydrated: About 70% of your body is made up of water, and staying hydrated is necessary for various bodily functions. Drinking enough water can also prevent you from overeating and reduce your cravings. Studies report that people often eat because they confuse thirst with hunger. Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water throughout the day, more if needed.
- Control portion sizes: When it comes to healthy eating habits, size does matter. For example, nuts are good for your health. But half a cup of mixed, roasted nuts (about 70 grams) contains about 400 calories. So be careful about your portions by using a small plate and filling most of it with salad or veggies.
- Don’t starve yourself: Healthy eating does not mean you should be starving yourself. You just need to eat the right foods in the right amounts. When you skip meals or restrict calories too much, you can put your body under stress and raise the risk of slipping back into unhealthy eating habits.
- Avoid late-night snacking: Most of us are most active in the morning and afternoons, with our late evenings and nights generally spent on the couch or in bed. So it does not make sense to load up on calories late at night. Late-night snacking can cause acid reflux, indigestion, and disturbed sleep.
- Choose healthy ways of cooking: It’s not just the ingredients, but the way you cook them that matters. Opt for sauteing and steaming over deep-frying and grilling.
- Avoid added sugars: Added sugars are simply empty calories. Limit your consumption of sugary foods and beverages.
- Track your progress: You are more likely to stick to a healthy habit when you see positive changes. Track your progress, whether it’s weighing yourself every week, taking body measurements, seeing how your clothes fit, or comparing your energy levels from day to day.
- Stay active: Studies report that regular physical exercise is closely linked with healthy eating patterns. Avoid sitting for long hours at a time and perform at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise at least 5 times a week.
- Get adequate rest: Lack of sleep can increase stress levels and trigger inflammation. Get about 7-8 hours of restful sleep a day. This will help keep your energy levels up.
- Manage stress: Stress increases the likelihood of eating unhealthy foods. Try to relax and unwind with yoga, meditation, or hobbies such as music, painting, reading, or dancing.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself: Not every day is going to be the same. You may have a setback once in a while. If you have had a donut or slice of cake, don’t beat yourself up over it. Start over the next day and recommit to a healthier lifestyle.
- Avoid being lured by fad diets: A good diet is one that you can sustain for the long haul. Fad diets or expensive supplements may not be sustainable. Eat foods that are fresh and easily available and in a way that suits your lifestyle.
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Medically Reviewed on 3/30/2022
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