The Healthy Eating Habits
This is the place to start. Wipe the slate clean, throw out everything you know about dieting, and begin fresh by following these healthy eating habits. It's clean eating. It's healthful eating. It's not obsessive eating. You can sustain this for the rest of your life.
If you simply want to eat healthier, if you have fat to lose, if you're eating for two, or your metabolism seems to be slowing down, you will do well to master these basics.
Think. Make sure you’re making a point to think about when and what to eat. No more haphazard eating that is governed by your feelings and circumstances. Also, pay attention to how full you're starting to feel and how the food is making you feel. Getting full? Stop. Is it feeling gross? Stop.
Eat regularly. Plan on eating at least three intentional meals every day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) plus an optional fourth and fifth meal if you need it. Eating regularly, every 3-4 hours, will improve your metabolism and ensure that your body receives adequate nutrients.
Eat protein. At each of these meals, eat lean protein. Protein is what keeps your muscles alive, important for maintaining a lean frame. You can choose from eggs, plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, chicken, turkey, lean beef, and fish. Your serving of protein should be about the size of one of your palms.
Eat produce. At each of your meals, eat fresh produce. Choose from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. You can eat your veggies raw, steamed or roasted with a little olive oil (add any herbs and spices you like). Your serving of produce at each meal should be at least one large handful.
Pause! Let's make it super simple by inserting a catchphrase here...At every meal, EAT YOUR PRO'S (protein and produce). Easy to remember, right? These are your foundations of every meal. Ok, carry on...
Eat healthy fats. Get in the habit of incorporating olive oil, olives, light cheeses, avocadoes, seeds, nuts, fish, fish oils, algae oil, flaxmeal, flax oil, etc. Saturated fats, which are found in animal products and tropical oils, are fine in limited quantities. Trans fats, which are found in processed foods and cooking oils, should be avoided entirely. Your serving of fat should be the size of your thumb (approximately 1-2 Tbsp).
Time your grains. Eat whole grain products and other starchy carbohydrates when your body deserves them. Workout days are the best times to consume breads, rices, cereals, grains, pastas, and potatoes. Any other day, your body will be more likely to store these carbohydrates as fat. When you do eat grains, make sure they are whole grains and not processed, refined grains. Manipulating your consumption of grains will have the most impact on your body fat percentage. If you have fat to lose, watch your grains very closely, consuming only one or two servings on workout days. One serving is equal to one cupped handful of cooked grains.
Pause again! Ok, we're starting to get a little trickier here, where the rubber really meets the road. If you feel like you can handle the habits just listed above and want to dial things in a bit more, continue on...
Eat whole foods. Throw out the processed junk. Try to avoid anything that comes out of a package. This, of course, eliminates the convenient bars and meals that may appear healthy (granola bars!), plus the typical foods that you think of as junk food. Chips, crackers, cookies, candy, granola bars, cereal, other refined sugars etc. are all foods that should be deleted from your diet. If you're up for taking this a step further, processed foods also include pre-packaged salad dressings and sauces. You can start making your own.
Avoid calorie-containing beverages. Don’t drink your calories. Your main beverage sources should be water, green tea, and a little black coffee (if you need it!). Any beverage that contains calories generally contains sugar and/or bad fats. Break your habit of caloric beverages (flavored coffee drinks, juice, soda, sports and energy drinks, beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages). Drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily.
Splurge a little. You will likely be very motivated and strict when you first begin implementing these habits, but then you may quickly burn out. We want to avoid burnout and maintain consistency at all costs. Give yourself a few meals each week to break the rules. If you're new to all of this, pick two full days to ditch the rules if you want (like Saturday and Sunday)...Just make sure you get right back on track first thing on Monday. Or you may spread your splurges out, choosing 4 or 5 meals throughout the week to break the rules. When you splurge, don’t overdo it and make yourself sick (habit #1 is helpful here). Keep it under control, and then return to the healthy eating habits exactly when you plan to. Learn more about how to "cheat" here.
Having healthy eating habits to follow is incredibly helpful when choosing what to eat at every meal. You don't have to count calories or look at nutrition facts. You simply eat when you're supposed to, choose good, real foods and beverages, and splurge every once in a while.