If you want to improve your overall health, start by switching up what you normally put into your mouth. The food and drink you consume on a daily basis have a direct impact on how you feel and how healthy you are. When it comes to dietary changes, most people stop before they even begin.
Changing your eating habits can seem overwhelming. No one wants to give up their favorite foods. What else is there to eat? Luckily, with a few small changes, you can become more conscious about what you eat and pivot toward a healthy diet quickly and easily.
Get excited about healthier eating
Healthy eating means more than lettuce. Discover meal ideas and preparation techniques that excite you to get your hands on fresh, healthy ingredients. Enroll in a vegetarian cooking class, tour a local farm or watch YouTube videos from your favorite healthy chefs. Or, dive into a weeklong healthy meal plan by visiting a wellness retreat where creative, professional chefs will prepare tasty meals using healthy ingredients, showing you that a new diet is both delicious and within reach.
Don’t try to overhaul your diet all at once
Make minor changes bit by bit. For example, reduce your dairy intake by replacing milk with almond milk and ice cream with fresh fruit sorbet. Work in small increments so you set reasonable expectations that you have the ability to meet. Eliminate junk food, soda and fast food for a certain period– let’s say two weeks. When your two weeks is up, extend for another two. Before you know it, these unhealthy foods will be practically absent from your diet.
That said, allow yourself small pleasures in moderation. Give yourself permission to have a small scoop of ice cream at a birthday party. Eat a few French fries if the urge overwhelms you. Just remember to limit your indulgences to small, controlled quantities.
Elevate the Quality of Your Food
You could be inadvertently sabotaging your efforts for healthier eating by your consumption of low-quality, processed and packaged foods. Eliminate your intake of pesticides and other toxins by buying organic wherever possible. Skip the packaged foods and cut out the preservatives. Shop at your local farmers’ market and ask the sellers about their picking and packaging processes.
Get your family & friends involved
Get your friends and family eating healthier and gain the benefit of a built-in support system. Explain your new diet changes and ask your spouse and kids to help with meal planning and preparation. Your healthy diet can be the catalyst for quality family time in the kitchen and around the dining room table.
If you live alone or your family is just not interested, find a healthy eating buddy. Make friends online, at work or at a wellness retreat. Compare recipes and bring exciting healthy foods to work for lunch. Share your experience with a friend to keep your motivation level high. Show off your new plant-based cooking skills by hosting a plant-based cook-out at home. Let your friends and family know that healthy eating isn’t weird or foreign–it’s actually a lot of fun!
Know Your Cravings and Keep Healthier Substitutes Handy
Don’t cave to your cravings. Be aware of your particular weaknesses and make sure you have healthy alternatives on hand. If you find yourself craving sweets or needing a delicious dessert, substitute high-fat and sugary sweets with smoothies, homemade granola, or your favorite seasonal fruits. Need a kick of salt? Reach for nuts, whole wheat crackers or olives. To fulfill your cravings for crunch, munch on some vegetables, air-popped popcorn (skip the butter!) or kale chips.
Overhauling your diet seems like a tall order. But by following the advice above, you can become more aware of what you eat and set yourself up for success.
What are your favorite ways to stay conscious of what you eat? Share your ideas below.