Eating healthy is damn hard. I have always been a fitness freak and love working out, but when it comes to restricting my diet, I have no discipline. And as I have gotten older, this is biting me in the butt. My metabolism has changed into my 20's, especially since I am not as active as I used to be working all day on a computer. Because of this, I have been working to incorporate small changes in my life to watch what I eat, as showcased in my 4 Ways to Cut Calories in Your Diet Without Sacrificing Taste article. However, it is still a challenge to say no even occasionally to the things I want. I mean I like to have my cake and eat it too! Since graduating from college, I put on a ton of weight. So I say now, at the age of 27, enough is enough! It is time to get back to a healthy weight for my BMI. So today, I want to share with everyone my steps I am taking to eating better in my life and some ways you can do the same with me!
The most simple way to watch what you eat is to count what you eat. That means knowing how many calories you should have in one day and staying within your calorie limit. If the idea of carrying around a little notepad and trying to find out how many calories are in everything makes you cringe, I am glad to say that there is an easier way! I use MyFitnessPal, a free app you can download on your mobile device to track your food. They have a vast array of restaurants and grocery brand foods already in their database, so no need to find the exact calories for every food you eat. Using this app has been eye opening for me. While I eat pretty healthy, despite the occasional sweet, one of my biggest problems with my diet is the portions I eat. I went from eating two pieces of toast and two veggie sausages in the morning to eating only one piece of toast and a veggie sausage. To my surprise, I was not even hungry after cutting my meal in half. If you are struggling to lose weight, this may be a simple way to start.
Getting Balance in Nutrients in Your Meals
In an article published by David Minkoff, he mentioned that when you are eating many calorie-rich refined foods, your body could still be craving something sweet because it did not get all of the nutrients in the meal you just ate. So while you may be well over your calorie limit for the day, you still feel hungry. I thought this was crazy to hear, but it makes perfect sense. This fact is important for me since I am a vegetarian, and this means that I am already limiting certain foods in my diet. Therefore, I have to pay extra attention to the foods I eat to make sure I am getting all my nutrients for the day. Many people solve this problem by taking a multi-vitamin daily. Another method that I prefer is to choose foods that are the most nutritionally rich. An excellent way to determine this is by following the ANDI Guide. This chart puts whole foods in order by the most nutrient dense to the least. A score of 1000 has the most nutrients per calorie you eat. My advice is to fill up on the foods that give you the most bang for your buck.
Eating More Fruits and Veggies
Eating more fruits and veggies should be a no-brainer, but yet we all don't eat as many vegetables as we should. Even me! I'm a vegetarian, and I often opt more for carbs than veggies! Expand your vegetable horizons, try new foods and try new recipes. It was proven in a study conducted by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health that if you eat 7 or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day you decrease your chances of death from any cause by 42% compared to people who consume less than one portion each day.
Yes, you heard that correctly. Why not choose to live longer. Even vegetables you thought you hated should be given a second try. I thought I did not like mushrooms for years, and now I eat them every week. Plus they also have anti-cancer benefits. My very favorite part of eating more vegetables is that they are filling. So if you have a salad before dinner, you are less likely to pig out on the meal and still feel full. If you don't take anything else from this article, I hope this point is clear, EAT MORE VEGGIES! You have nothing to lose here.
Cut Out Some Bad Stuff
So now for the bad news, you have got to cut out some of the garbage you are eating. Don't even try to deny it. I know you are over there snacking on something you know damn well is not good for you. When I say you, I am talking to myself, as I put down a donut.
Cutting out the bad food is so hard for me because I know I seriously have an addiction to sweets of all kinds, especially the worst kinds of food like cupcakes and candy. So that is why I say SOME of the bad food. It would be just crazy to cut out all the bad stuff cold turkey. But if you have an addiction like I do that means you have to make a rule for yourself. For me, I limit myself to one sweet daily. Eventually, I want to make this once a week, but I am not going to get crazy here. It takes a lot of willpower at first, but I promise this will get easier. Even if that means cutting out a sweet or passing on bread at dinner. You win if you eat just one less carb/sweet/ junk food a day.
So as you can imagine eating healthier is not as easy as it may seem, but at the end of the day, you owe it to yourself to eat clean and live a long and healthy life. It all starts here in your 20's!