We’d all love to live a perfect healthy life, but it can seem unattainable at times. Between working, raising kids, studying, keeping up with family and our relationships, and everything else that life throws at us, nutrition often takes a back seat and is seen as a luxury. It doesn’t have to be that way, though! Try implementing these 6 nutritionist rules to live by in your own life and see what healthy benefits you get in exchange!
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Rule 1: Choose whole foods that are close to their natural source.
If it comes in a box or bag, only requires heating, and foods that you recognize don’t appear in the first 5 ingredients, it’s probably not something you should put in your body. Opt for easy-to-cook foods and 3-5 ingredient recipes that won’t take you long to cook and still resemble their ingredients when done. Chickpea curry, Greek salad, pumpkin soup, vegetable stirfrys– they look like their original ingredients even after you’re done cooking them! Aim for meals like that and you won’t end up putting a bunch of mystery chemicals in your body. You’ll also avoid a lot of added sodium, fat, and other undesirables.
Rule 2: Eat the rainbow.
The more (natural) colors on your plate, the wider array of vitamins and nutrients you’re getting. Opt for 3-4 different colors in each dish at minimum. Think of carrots, peppers, and greens for a simple side salad, then have a fruit salad for dessert. There are many sneaky ways to get lots of different colors in your meals. Challenge yourself to get a certain amount of colors in your produce aisle next time you’re there, and see what kind of amazing combos you come up with at meal-times! The benefit, of course, is that it increases your vegetable intake in general, and specifically your variety of vitamins.
Rule 3: Control your portions at restaurants.
Restaurant meals are almost always bigger than what we would have served ourselves at home, but it’s hard to leave it on the plate and stop eating halfway through, especially when you’re about to pay for that food! Restaurant food is also often packed with salt and butter and sugar, so the calories a simple meal out can pack could be astronomical! Try asking for lunch sized portions, asking for healthy substitutes (a side salad instead of fries), or do the old faithful trick: When your plate arrives, ask for a to-go box immediately. Before you take even the first bite, put half of it in the to-go container. Now you’ll be eating less and when your eyes see you’re empty plate, you’ll know you’re done (without having eating the whole.dang.thing.) and you’ll have a lunch or dinner ready to go for tomorrow!
Rule 4: Shop the Perimeter.
Grocery stores are tricky places! The freshest ingredients are usually around the perimeter, and if you get sucked into the cereal vortex of the middle of the store, you’ll also be hit with tons of other processed foods. Even on the frozen veggie aisle you might be tempted by pizza bagels and ice cream, so keep your will strong! You may need to venture into the center for other products such as peanut butter, flour, or other staples, but try to get most of your food from the meat counter and produce section and you’re almost guaranteed to leave with fewer processed and high-calorie foods.
Rule 5: Watch out for calorie traps.
Things that we add to food for flavor also often include a calorie or sodium bomb. Try to avoid sauces that are cream based (including salad dressing!) and stick to dressing your foods in hot sauce, mustard, olive oil, vinegar, lemon, herbs, and spices! Your meals will feel (and truly be) lighter and you’ll avoid piling on empty calories to each meal.
Rule 6: Go for the fiber of whole fruit.
Juicing has been a popular trend for a while now, but consider swapping juices for fruit, especially if you don’t make the juice yourself. Many store-bought juices don’t contain as much of the fruit as the claim and often include added sugar or artificial sweeteners. The benefit of swapping out fruit juice for the whole fruit is in the fiber, which many of us don’t get enough of. Try eating an apple or an orange at breakfast and start the day with water or green tea instead of the typical glass of juice!
What’s your favorite healthy eating tip that you swear by?
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