Six Healthy Habits That Will Stick
Healthy eating and living can be realistic and achievable even for busy people, like you! It’s easy to fall into the trap of the “quick fix”, but it’s most effective to make changes you know you can ultimately adapt to and stick with long term. Here are some of our favorites. See which first steps resonate with you, then create a “how to” plan for achieving them.
1) Know that it’s okay to say yes to convenience foods. If you have the time to cook meals from scratch – great! But if you are too busy, know that there are many healthy convenience foods available. Items like broth-based soups, pre-cut fruit and veggies, bagged salads, and pre-roasted chicken are great choices. Other quick-cooking staples include salmon filets, whole wheat pasta, or eggs.
2) Make a new family rule to remove trigger foods. Having certain foods, like ice cream, can really derail your health goals by tempting you to take a bite (or a bowl). Make a point by not having these foods around the house. Don’t restock your ice-cream and if you MUST have it, make a rule to bike or walk to the grocery store to buy a single-serving.
3) Cut out chemical fillers. Food products with a long ingredients list tend to be high in chemicals. Always do a quick scan of the ingredients list and try avoiding products with a lot of additives. Chemical fillers can be anything from artificial colors and flavors to preservatives and artificial fat substitutes. These ingredients are added to foods for various reasons, mostly related to increasing appearance, palatability, and shelf life, but lack nutritional value. Steer clear of foods that contain these fillers and instead aim to eat mostly whole foods. You’ll feel more satisfied from after your meals and will be providing your body with the nutrients it craves.
4) Take count of your special occasions. Holidays, birthday parties, graduation... do you find yourself “celebrating” on a weekly basis? Get rid of the idea that it is okay to make poor food choices on special occasions, because wow, these occasions really start to add up! Choose one or two events at which you’ll be most likely to indulge, and commit to making healthy choices at the rest.
5) Read it before you eat it! Don’t assume that nutrition claims on packaging are the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Food manufacturers advertise their products by using words like “natural”, “no cholesterol”, or “trans-fat free”. Don’t fall into the trap, always read the nutrition label! Learn to read ingredients and nutrition labels to see if the claims advertised on packaging are actually the truth. Check out this interview with nutrition food label expert Bonnie Taub Dix, on decoding food labels.
6) Cut down on sugar. The World Health Organization recommends that no more than 10% of your total calories each day come from free sugar.1 Free sugar is defined as sugar naturally found in table sugar, honey, syrups, and fruit juices. So if your calorie needs are 1,800 per day, you should consume no more than 180 calories from free sugar. There are 16 calories in 1 teaspoon of sugar, so divide 180 by 16 and you’ll see that you get up to 11 teaspoons of added sugar. Nutrition labels typically list sugars in grams, so you’ll need to convert. Four grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon, so divide the grams of sugar listed on the label by 4 to get the number of teaspoons per serving! You’d be surprised when you see how much sugar is found in crackers, sauces and salad dressings. It adds up fast!
Are you ready to make changes you can stick with? Pick just one of the six options above, and make it a new lifestyle rule for you and your family. Include the whole family by explaining the rule to your kids and letting them pick healthier options as well.
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