Welcome to our third and final post on getting in shape for your wedding! The last couple of weeks, we talked about some great workout options and had some professional advice from Beachbody Coach Marella Carlton. Today I wanted to share some smart and easy tips for creating healthier eating habits.
Changing your eating habits to be healthier can be very intimidating. I know. I love to eat and my favorite food groups are sugar, chocolate, and fried. In the last couple of years, I have gained a more balanced idea of how to easily incorporate healthy eating into my active lifestyle.
I always have good intentions to completely change my eating habits. But in reality, it doesn’t usually happen. Here are some things that I’ve found to be easy to incorporate to promote a healthier lifestyle. Add a consistent exercise routine, and you might be surprised with the results. I bet it’s easier than you think!
Tip #1: Instead of counting calories, just try to make healthier decisions. After lunch, grab a bowl of fruit for dessert instead of that double chocolate chunk cookie. A small change, but you’ll feel encouraged by it later. Choose grilled chicken instead of fried. A junior sized cheeseburger with a side salad instead of the Big Mac and fries. Counting calories can be overwhelming and boring. Just eat healthy – and you’ll still be successful.
Tip #2: Make manageable changes. To make a difference in your diet, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing! Drastically changing your entire diet overnight will probably not be very successful long term. You’ll crave all your junk food and be miserably hungry. Start by using one or two of these tips. When you’re comfortable with the change, add some more. You’ll be surprised at how well you can stick to one or two small changes.
Tip #3: Be careful about skipping meals, especially breakfast. You think that you’re doing good things for your diet by cutting out all those calories. But let’s face it. Most of the time when we’re starving by 11:00 am because we’ve skipped breakfast, we go searching for chips or cookies. I crave doughnuts when I skip breakfast. (Every time. Weird, I know.) When we’re hungry like that, we crave fast and easy food. Convenience usually means empty calories. Also, skipping meals forces your body to go into “conservation mode”. Your body doesn’t want to burn fat because it tries to protect your body from starvation. This is especially true if you go for long periods of time without eating. It’s actually not healthy to do so. Even if you don’t consider yourself a breakfast person, try to incorporate some yogurt or even a glass of orange juice into your morning routine.
Tip #4: Drinks are so important! It’s easy to forget how many calories and how much sugar are in sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, etc. Simply cutting out your daily soda or energy drink and replacing it with water can make a huge difference. Water is not only calorie free, but also helps flush out toxins and makes you feel more energetic. If you aren’t a big fan of water, try adding some cut up fruit for flavor. There are all kinds of fun recipes on Pinterest for healthy flavored water. My favorites? Water with cucumber, lime, and mint; or strawberries and blueberries.
Tip #5: It’s all a balance. I love cake. Any diet that makes me eliminate chocolate cake will probably not be successful for me. Or brownies, cheesecake, and chocolate. So how do I handle that? I try to save my treats for when I really want them. If I’m just hungry, I try to go for fruits, vegetables, and nuts. I plan my treats. If I had a great workout and ate healthy the rest of that day, I’ll reward myself with a fresh baked brownie. (With Joel around, I almost always have a fresh-baked something for him!) And boy, do I enjoy that brownie. I also don’t have to feel as guilty about it because it was planned. So eat your fried chicken, ice cream, or grande White Chocolate Mocha. Just make sure that you balance it with plenty of healthy foods the rest of the day.
Tip #6: This is a lot like #5, but it’s so important for success that I want to share it again. Reduce instead of eliminate. Unless you’re superwoman, you can stick to your diet so much better if you don’t have to totally eliminate your favorite foods from your life. If you’re out with friends and want to get fondue for dessert, go for it! Enjoy life and the yummy things it offers. Just be mindful of how much and how often.
Tip #7: Start your meal with small portions. You can always go back for more later. Chances are, though, you’ll be fuller than you think with your first portion. That way you can get seconds on what you really want to eat and don’t stuff yourself with food you really don’t want. When you’re hungry, your eyes can definitely be bigger than your stomach.
Tip #8: You can actually train yourself to enjoy healthier foods. Introduce changes a little at a time. Incorporate a piece of fruit in the afternoon and a big salad at suppertime. I grew up a meat and potatoes farm girl and wasn’t very interested in salads. After marrying into a semi-vegetarian family, I sure needed to get used to vegetables. Now I find myself craving salads. I crave my chunky monkey smoothie after my workout (2 bananas, ice, milk, and peanut butter. Yum!) Once you greatly reduce the amount of soda you drink, you’ll crave it less and less. Same for hamburgers and fries. You might be surprised what you crave once your body gets used to healthier food.
Tip #9: Set yourself up for success. Most of our bad food choices are made because we’re hungry and not prepared. When I’m hungry and don’t have convenient fruit or other healthy snack in my fridge, I go for the chips and cookies. Every time. Try to make it easy to be successful. Have hummus and pita chips, easy to grab fruit and vegetables, yogurt or cottage cheese, nuts, and other healthier options easily available. Some people go as far as prepping their entire week’s worth of food. I’m impressed with them. That doesn’t work for me, so I just keep the healthy stuff around.
Tip #10: Remember that changing your lifestyle is a process. Don’t get discouraged because you blew your diet on your weekend out of town. You’re going to mess up, you’re going to give into temptation. It’s normal. The important thing is that you keep trying and find what works for you. Don’t get bogged down by the overwhelming amount of information on healthy eating. Start with small changes and incorporate them into your daily routine. Just keep going. Before you know it, you’ll have created a habit of healthy choices.
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