When you ask people about their New Year’s resolutions, losing weight and living a more healthy lifestyle come up every time. In the 21st century, when access to unhealthy food options has become ridiculously easy, this is one resolution that’s only going to get harder to stick to. But if you’re truly serious about eating correctly, how do you navigate all the pitfalls and temptations that modern life presents?
Really, it’s all about getting back to basics – human anatomy hasn’t changed, it’s just the environment we find ourselves in. The first step in being successful in sticking to healthy eating habits is realizing that temptation is always going to be out there, it’s your job to prepare to face it and have healthier options on hand. While you can’t foresee and plan for every situation, what you do on a day to day basis is what eventually determines your health.
Manage your environment – start at home and at work
With the best will in the world, you’re not going to succeed in sticking to your guns for long when you have junk food all over the house! Make creating good eating habits easier for yourself by removing the obvious temptations. Go through your fridge and cupboards and get rid of all the foods which might tempt you. Give them away to friends or donate them to a suitable charity – and do not buy them again! Out of sight truly is out of mind. You can’t give in to that midnight craving for ice cream if there isn’t any in the house, it’s that simple. Replace these foods with fresh fruit, ready to nibble veggies and frozen portions from homemade meals ready to pop in the microwave, and you’re set for success!
Another area where people fail is at work, where it’s all too tempting to get a quick take out. Allow this to happen every day, and your health is going to suffer more quickly than you think. Get in the habit of cooking larger batches of food in the evening so you have leftovers to take to work, or putting together a healthy lunch for yourself while packing the kid’s. Find a local delivery service that offers healthier options, be it yummy whole grain sandwiches and salads, or even banting food with lots of veggies.
Understand your food better
Knowledge is power, and nutrition is no exception. If you’re looking to lose weight for example, you need to understand where you might be getting too many calories without even realizing it. The scale of ‘caloric density’ is a perfect place to start. Fruit and veggies are at the lowest end of the scale at about 300 calories per pound, with fats and oils at the other end at a whopping 4000 calories per pound. Put simply, if you’re eating a healthy salad and then drenching it in olive oil, you’ve just turned a low calorie meal into a high one, still thinking you’ve made a healthy choice. Add some lentils and your favorite vinegar however, and you’ve created a high protein, filling and satisfying meal that will stave off hunger for longer and still be lower in overall calories.
Likewise, baked potato and brown rice come in at about 500 calories per pound, whereas bread is closer to 1000. What does this mean in practical terms? If you opt for the whole food version of a starch or grain, you’d have to eat twice as much of it to get the same amount of calories as the refined version! Understanding this concept is the key to being able to eat bigger quantities of food and still lose weight – and doesn’t that sound refreshing?
Simplify healthy cooking to save time
Most people will say that the reason they don’t prepare their own healthy meals at home is because they just don’t have sufficient time. And if you look at the healthy recipe pages of most websites, it’s easy to understand why! We tend to overcomplicate nutrition and cooking, but the truth is that healthy meals actually require minimal effort, especially once you’re in the habit. Did you know that every nutrient you need can be found in some microwaved potatoes and a bag of frozen veggies, for example? It sounds unthinkable in the modern age but remember that our ancestors have been living on very limited fare for centuries – and they didn’t have the problems with diabetes, obesity and heart disease that plague us today.
Always go for the ‘closest to nature’ option
You evolved in a world where food came in complete packages – with all its water, fiber, vitamin and mineral content intact. When we consume refined and processed food, we throw everything out of whack. When presented with food options, always go for the one that’s closest to nature, and your body will thank you for it!