Let’s face it — getting in better shape is such a chore. And eating healthy means drinking green funky-looking drinks and spending hours cutting up fruits and vegetables, right? Who wants to fuss with all that when a cheeseburger is easily available at the drive-thru?
Good news! It isn’t necessarily true that eating healthy has to be difficult. Read on for some fun tips that you can use to improve your diet without taking up your time — and even the laziest person can implement them.
1. Healthy Eating Does NOT Mean Dieting
Dieting can actually do more harm than good. Restrictive diets slow down your metabolism, meaning that once you stop dieting — or slip up — the pounds pack on twice as fast. Depriving yourself of the foods you love will just make you crave them all the more, too.
Don’t label foods as “good” or “bad.” Instead, focus on the healthy foods you love — do you really enjoy tomatoes, for instance? — and incorporate more of those things into your menu. Granted, it may not be a donut, but you’re not necessarily eating stuff you despise. Try to choose healthy, wholesome foods at least 80% of the time, but do allow yourself the occasional pizza party — or maple bar.
2. Stock up on Snacks
When it comes to snacking, 51 percent of all Americans consume more than three snacks a day. Snacks aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but when they aren’t healthy, they don’t bode particularly well for anyone.
To avoid the temptation of an unhealthy indulgence, stock your work desk or school dorm room with options like:
- Fiber-rich and yummy chocolate granola bars
- Protein-rich foods such as string cheese and nuts
- Fun-to-eat fruits and veggies like bananas and baby carrots with dip
3. Avoid Drinking Your Calories
We all know that many Starbucks frapps are loaded with calories and sugar. Instead, order a plain coffee with a squirt or two of caramel or vanilla and Splenda as a sweetener. You’ll save money, too! Better yet, you can even brew your own coffee.
Also, be aware of your nightly nightcap before bed. Many beers can pack 150 calories or more, and drinks like White Russians can have upwards of 400. Instead, stick to lower-calorie indulgences such as white wine or a Cosmo made with light cranberry juice.
4. Stay Hydrated
Many times when you think you’re hungry, you’re really just dehydrated. Make your water bottle your bestie and carry it with you everywhere. Staying hydrated helps to slay cravings, too.
5. Stack Your Plate With Veggies
When sitting down for a meal, try filling half of your plate with nutritious vegetables. If you worry about veggies going bad before you can use them, buy frozen.
By filling at least half your plate with vegetables, it’s easier to keep your portions of higher-calorie foods smaller and more reasonable. Also, if you like salads, get creative with them! Add walnuts, cranberries, whole-grain croutons, eggs and more.
6. Make Sure to Eat Breakfast
You’ve heard the saying, breakfast is the most important meal of the day — and it is! By eating a protein-packed breakfast, you not only rev up your metabolism in the morning, but you also avoid cravings later in the day.
Numerous studies have shown that people who eat breakfast regularly tend to be leaner and healthier overall. Not sure what to fix? Think whole-grain toast or cereal, eggs and just about any breakfast meat for a protein punch.
7. Invest in a Slow Cooker and Tupperware
A slow cooker can be a busy healthy eater’s best friend! Pop a meal into the slow cooker at night, and the next day, you’ll have a filling, nutritious meal and plenty of leftovers.
Measure those leftovers into portions and place it in Tupperware. Store it in the freezer, and then when you’re hungry, simply pop the Tupperware in the microwave for a quick and nutrient-rich meal.
8. Pack Your Own Lunch
Speaking of slow-cooker meals, another idea is to take your tasty creations in Tupperware with you to work for a lunch that’s far healthier for you than a cheeseburger. Another idea is to pack up your lunches on Sunday night, so in the morning, you can just grab and go.
Try portioning out perfectly-sized portions of fruits, veggies, nuts, whole-grain crackers, etc. into individual baggies for a healthy snack you can easily grab on the go.
9. Add Soup or Salad as an Appetizer
Studies have shown that people who start their meal with a cup of soup or a salad tend to eat fewer calories overall. Try to stick to soups with a clear broth because they are lower in calories.
With salads, also try to stick to lighter dressings such as vinaigrettes to add a big flavor without packing on unnecessary pounds.
10. Incorporate Easy, Healthy Recipes
Finally, don’t be afraid to incorporate new recipes into your diet. Many favorite comfort foods can be made with substitute ingredients that cut calories without cutting flavor. Read up on easy-to-prepare recipes when making up your shopping list. Once you learn a few healthy substitutions, you can get more creative and invent your own recipes, too!