There are many important factors to consider when beginning a weight loss journey. Changing your eating habits is one of the best places to start. Thankfully, many of the modifications are easy to implement, and soon, you may find that making healthier choices becomes part of your daily routine. We’ve compiled nine simple ways to help you change your eating habits and get you started on the path to success. Keep reading and start your journey toward better health today!
#1. Weekly Planning & Meal Prep
Create a meal plan for the entire week and don’t veer from that plan. You’ll love the freedom and extra time you’ll get back every day instead of trying to figure out what to make for dinner and needing to go to the store for that one ingredient you’re missing. If you’re on a weight loss meal delivery program like Jenny Craig, we do all the planning for you. If you’re not on a weight loss plan and just want to be healthier, sit down and plan out each meal for an entire week.
Look for recipes, write down ingredients, and don’t stray from the plan when you get to the grocery store. Don’t know where to start? The internet is home to millions of recipes and meal planning ideas. There are numerous health and fitness food bloggers out there that have already done the hard work for you. They post blogs with different healthy food planning ideas, ingredient lists and recipes.
You can also find yummy recipes in cookbooks at home, in most health and wellness magazines, or on Pinterest. Start by sitting down and researching what recipes you want to make. Find recipes with similar ingredients so you don’t have to buy too much. Write down which meals are for which days and the ingredients to make a shopping list.
When you hit the grocery to purchase any necessary ingredients, make sure to stick to your list. Then you can either portion out your ingredients and make one meal at a time or cook all of your meals at once and put them in a plastic container so they are ready to grab and go! And remember, try not to go grocery shopping when you are hungry, as the temptations to buy unhealthy foods will be stronger when your tummy is rumbling.
#2. Breakfast Is Key
We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and it’s true! Studies have shown that eating breakfast is beneficial to your mind and body and can help your weight loss goals. In addition, the studies found...Breakfast immediately raises your energy levels and kick starts your metabolism. It can also help increase your cognitive levels for higher brain functionality throughout the day. Eating a healthy meal in the morning can help set you on the right track for food consumption the rest of the day. If you skip breakfast in the morning, you may find yourself making up the calories later in the day and not necessarily in the healthiest way.1
Some examples of healthy breakfast foods include egg frittatas or scrambles with egg whites and your favorite vegetables. Or try, smoothies with some fruits and green vegetables! You can even add protein powder or chia seeds for extra nutrients.
#3. Portion Control
Taking control of your food portions is an important step in your weight loss journey. Limiting the amount of food you ingest can help you maintain your weight loss goals. Portion control is simple, eat when you’re hungry, stop before you feel full. There are other several helpful tricks to help you with portion control:
- Use a smaller plate for meals so you cannot put as much food on it.
- Use actual measuring cups or weigh your food on a food scale when building your plate. Drink a glass of water 30 minutes before eating to help with digestion and to consume fewer calories.2
- Use this visual portion size guide to make sure you’re not accidentally overeating recommended serving sizes.
Still hungry after your meal? Nutritionists recommend waiting 20 minutes before refilling your plate to determine if you are actually hungry or not.
#4. Smart Snacking
Healthy snacking throughout the day is important to help keep your metabolism up so you burn more calories all day long. Snacking not only keeps your blood sugar stable so your energy levels remain high, but healthy snacks also supply essential nutrients to your body. In addition, snacking throughout the day has also proved to prevent you from overeating during mealtimes.3 How often should you eat snacks? To receive the benefits of snacking, it is recommended to have a healthy snack 2-3 times a day.
Here are a couple of ideas for some healthy snacks:
- Snap peas and hummus
- Raw Almonds
- Cucumber slices
- Nonfat Plain Greek yogurt
- Low-fat cottage cheese
#5. Eat Your Vegetables
Focus on including vegetables in your diet. Vegetables supply many essential nutrients for your body and are important foods to help protect against diseases.4 You can eat them as a snack, as a main part of your meal, or even use them to replace some of your unhealthy habits.
A great way to work in more veggies is to supplement carbs or you can choose to forgo the carbs altogether for some meals and use vegetable alternatives. Lettuce wrap your burgers and sandwiches that require a bun. Substitute your pasta with spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchinis into noodles.
Trade in your rice for diced cauliflower or make your pizza crust using chopped up cauliflower. Making a couple of switches from your food habits to their veggie alternatives is a great way to weed out unhealthy calories for healthy ones.
#6. Re-think How You Prepare Your Food
In some cases, what you’re eating may not be the culprit. It can be the ingredients that are used to prepare it. There are numerous alternatives out there that can help replace the unhealthier ingredients with healthier ones. Use heart-healthy olive oil in place of butter for your sautéing needs, and make sure to use only a few teaspoons. In many cases you can even use nonstick cooking spray. Learn more about the differences between cooking sprays, sticks, and spreads.
The idea is to use just enough to cook your food rather than pouring it on for extra flavor. Try substituting sugar with honey, or even dates! You can even replace some of your dairy intake with almond or coconut milk. Changing how you cook your food is an easy step towards a healthier lifestyle. Avoiding deep-fried foods is a good first step. Baking, grilling, roasting, broiling and steaming are other great ways to cook healthy meals. With the right cooking techniques, foods can be delicious and satisfying which will allow you to stay on track.
#7. Enhance Flavors & Try New Spices
If you are like most people, you may be consuming too much salt. Consuming excess salt can cause your body to retain water, which could add excess “water weight” onto your physique. Instead of using salt to season your dishes, try other spices like garlic, onion powder, crushed red pepper flakes, paprika, nutmeg and cumin. Herbs like dill, rosemary, basil, tarragon and oregano can also add a flavorful punch to your dishes without all the unnecessary salt. Make sure to check the sodium content in prepackaged spice mixes before you buy them too, as they can contain more salt than you realize.
#8. Stick to Your Grocery List
If you have every intention of improving your diet, it’s important to make a grocery list and stick to it. When you’re wandering the aisles of the grocery store, you may be tempted to buy something you shouldn’t, and having a list in your hand can help relieve the temptation. It will act as a reminder of what you’re trying to accomplish and help you keep your healthy eating goals in sight. Also, stick to the outside of the grocery store.
Meal planning and prepping will also ensure you do not stray from your list. After you plan your meals for the week and have your shopping list ready to go, head to the store with your yummy recipes in mind. Another way to stick to your list is to avoid grocery shopping when you’re hungry. With your stomach growling, you may be tempted to add the box of cookies you’re passing to your cart because your cravings and hunger are taking over. If you notice you are hungry before heading to the grocery store, eat a quick snack to help you and your stomach stick to your list.
#9. Find New Ways to Manage Stress
Many people turn to food for comfort, which can make it easy to pack on the pounds when life is stressful. If this sounds like something you do, it’s time to find a new way to manage your feelings. Stress eating is common for many and can sabotage your weight-loss efforts. It can cause people to let their ‘healthy guard’ down, make poor or unplanned food choices, and even eat when they are not hungry.
Instead of poking around the pantry, try more effective and fun stress-relieving methods like going for a walk, talking to a friend or family member, taking a bubble bath, participating in a yoga class, or trying deep breathing exercises. You’ll be able to clear your head without derailing all the great progress you’ve made toward a leaner, healthier you.
It’s never too early—or too late—to change your eating habits. Using the right cooking techniques, sticking to your grocery list and managing stress are just a few of the changes you can make today to help you keep on track with your weight loss goals. Finding the right eating habits for you will lead you to live a happy and healthy lifestyle.