In today’s world of readily available processed and fast foods, it’s more difficult than ever for busy people to make healthy eating choices. However, with more than two-thirds of Americans classified as overweight or obese, there has never been a greater need for a balanced, nutritious diet. If you struggle to make the right eating choices day after day, the good news is that there are a few simple tips you can follow to get on the right track.
Start by realizing you can’t make drastic diet changes overnight and expect them to be easy to stick with. Instead, set yourself up for long-term success by gradually transitioning into a healthier diet. Rather than giving up soda and sugary drinks cold-turkey, consider reducing your intake of them week by week until you’ve weaned yourself down to your desired amount.
Moderation is Key
When most people think of healthy diets, they think they’ll need to deprive themselves of the foods they know and love. However, this shouldn’t be the case. The key is to enjoy the foods you love in moderation. Allowing yourself a small snack every now and then (such as a slice of pizza or a scoop of your favorite ice cream) will allow you to fulfill cravings and avoid feeling like you’re depriving yourself.
Reduce Sugar and Salt
Added sugars and salts are a huge problem in the average American’s diet, with excess intake resulting in an increased risk of depression, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Make a conscious effort to read the labels on your food packaging and avoid excess sodium and sugar when possible. This may mean cutting back on your soda intake, avoiding processed foods (which tend to have lots of added salt), and choosing snacks that have no added sugar.
Eat Colorful Fruits and Veggies
Get the vitamins and nutrients you need while filling up on fewer calories by incorporating more colorful fruits and veggies into your diet. Consider replacing your typical starchy side at dinner, such as potatoes or rice, with a large helping of roasted veggies or fresh fruit salad. Your body will thank you!
Eat More Healthy Carbs and Whole Grains
Many people trying to eat healthily think they need to avoid carbs altogether, but this isn’t the case. The key is to make sure you’re eating healthy carbs, such as those that come from legumes, whole grains, fruits, and veggies. On the flip side, try to reduce your intake of unhealthy carbs, such as:
- white flour
- white rice
- refined sugars
Last but certainly not least, load up on fiber; most Americans don’t get enough of it in their diet. Foods that are high in fiber will keep you full for longer and provide you with steady energy throughout the day. Getting enough fiber can also reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
These are just a few simple ways in which you can begin eating healthier and, as a result, feeling more energetic! Need a health check? Review your coverage or sign up for health benefits during open enrollment through the AMSA Health Insurance Marketplace, which runs from November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016.