As much as we want to make healthy food choices, it can be hard to stick with a balanced diet when the comfort and ease of less virtuous options are all around—all the damn time. For motivation’s sake, read and remember these 25 heathy eating quotes. Then, to help you reach those goals, we’ve included a few easy-to-follow tips for making better choices and four expert-approved diets to try, if you’re looking to make a change but aren’t sure where to begin.
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Now that you’ve got all the motivation you need to eat healthier, let’s talk practical advice. Here, eight easy-to-follow tips to set you up for healthy-eating success.
1. Cook Your Own Meals
Sure, it’s more time consuming, but making your own food instead of going out to eat is a super easy way to eat healthier (and as a bonus, save money). Restaurants load their dishes with sugar, salt and other unhealthy ingredients. Plus, the portion sizes are usually massive. Cooking at home ensures you know exactly what’s going into your meals, gives you a better handle on how much you’re eating and usually makes enough leftovers to bring for lunch the next day.
2. Eat Mindfully
Picture it: You’re sitting in front of the TV with a giant takeout dinner you meant to spread over two meals. You’re fully engrossed in the latest episode of The Bachelor, and before you know it, you’ve mindlessly plowed through your entire order. To avoid unintentionally overeating, try to practice mindful eating, which basically means being in the moment while you calmly eat with intention. It also turns the act of eating into a really pleasant, not-stressful experience.
3. Allow Yourself to Snack
When you eat small quantities throughout the day, you’re less likely to be ravenous at traditional mealtimes. But when we say “snack,” we’re talking healthy options, people. Here are nine filling foods to munch all day that won’t wreck your diet but will still keep you firing on all cylinders.
4. Stop Drinking Your Calories
When we imagine the things that are making us hold on to excess pounds, we typically think of cake and chips and french fries. We often overlook the sheer amount of calories (and sugar) in the beverages we’re drinking. To drop pounds without counting cals, limit soda (regular and diet), fancy coffee drinks and alcohol. We know that iced caramel macchiato is tempting, but try to train yourself to prefer black coffee.
5. Stay Hydrated
Consistently drinking water is one of the best things you can do for your health and also one of the easiest. In addition to keeping your skin clear and your energy up, staying hydrated boosts your metabolism, makes you feel full (per a 2015 study from the University of Oxford) and keeps you from drinking the not-so-great-for-you beverages we mentioned above.
6. Don’t Incentivize Food
Instead of rewarding yourself for hitting the gym three days in a row with pizza and a milkshake (which pretty much negates the work you put in on the bike), get a manicure or buy a new book you’ve been eyeing.
7. Get Enough Sleep
Like us, you are probably more miserable in general when you haven’t had enough sleep, but did you know that being tired can also spell disaster for your weight loss goals? Studies—like this one published in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship—have shown that a lack of sleep can increase hunger and cravings, as well as cause weight gain by messing with levels of the hormones ghrelin and leptin.
8. Be Patient
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and weight doesn’t fall off your body after you eat a single salad. If weight loss is your goal, it’s crucial to be kind to yourself and your body. You might be someone who loses weight at the drop of a hat, but you might not, and that’s OK. Cut yourself some slack and don’t quit when, after a week, you don’t look like a Hadid sister.
1. The Mediterranean Diet
“The Mediterranean diet is based primarily on whole plant-based foods, including vegetables and fruit, as well as whole grains, legumes and nuts, with small amounts of animal products (primarily seafood). Butter is replaced with heart-healthy olive oil, red meat is limited to no more than a few times a month, eating meals with family and friends is encouraged, and wine is allowed (in moderation). Studies suggest that this style of eating improves cardiovascular health and is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular death, certain cancers, certain chronic diseases and overall mortality. Extra bonus? It’s also easy to eat this way at many restaurants.” —Maria Marlowe, integrative nutrition health coach and author of The Real Food Grocery Guide
2. The Flexitarian Diet
“A blend of the words flexible and vegetarian, this diet does just that—it allows for flexibility with your approach to vegetarianism. The diet encourages people to follow a mostly plant-based diet but does not eliminate meat products entirely (instead, it aims to reduce meat and saturated fat intake). It’s a great way to eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, which are important for overall heart health, and also provides a more realistic approach for long-term success.” —Melissa Buczek Kelly, registered dietitian
3. Plant-Based Paleo (aka Pegan)
“Similar to the Mediterranean diet in its emphasis on fresh over processed foods, plant-based paleo takes it a step further by eliminating dairy, gluten, refined sugar and vegetable oils. While straight paleo also eliminates grains and beans/legumes, this version allows them in small amounts. Reframing how you look at meat (not as the main dish but as a condiment or side dish instead), eliminating highly processed and refined foods, and putting the emphasis on veggies as the star of the plate can help lower our risk of heart disease and many chronic illnesses. It also aids in weight loss and maintaining a healthy body weight over the long run.” —Maria Marlowe
4. The Nordic Diet
“The Nordic diet also has some research regarding health benefits, including lowering inflammation and risk for heart disease. It emphasizes the intake of fish (high in omega-3 fatty acids), whole-grain cereals, fruits (especially berries) and vegetables. Similar to the Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet limits processed foods, sweets and red meat. This diet also emphasizes local, seasonal foods that can be obtained from Nordic regions. Of course, finding local Nordic foods may not be feasible for everyone, but I like the idea of eating more local foods and using what’s available from our natural landscapes.” —Katharine Kissane, registered dietitian
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