5 Easy steps to incorporate a healthy lifestyle TODAY!

Most people look at diet and a healthy lifestyle approach and are overwhelmed.  This is totally understandable with all of the information out there.  In 2018 we are being inundated daily with healthy food tips, new diets, exercise and etc. as opposed to even 5 years ago when a healthy lifestyle approach was just beginning to rise and generate awareness.  But where do we begin??  Let's start with a few simple guidelines to help guide you if you are just starting out. 

I’m not a cold turkey kind of girl and need to ease into things gradually as opposed to drastic changes.  For me, I know it has a much higher chance of sticking rather than doing drastic diets or cleanses.  Been there done that and I just end up binging on foods that I’m restricting and it just becomes this vicious cycle.  I’ll expand upon this later….  For now, here are some ways to ease into a healthy diet now that won’t complete disrupt and cause panic!

In a recent study by researchers at the University of South Australia there was concluding evidence that found that by just replacing 25% of discretionary foods (such as dessert, snacks, and sugary beverages) with healthy foods resulted in a huge improvement in overall diet quality – reducing sugar intake by almost 21% and calories by almost 4%, and increasing protein intake by 2%!  This is a simple as trading out your handful of chips for veggies or (1) can of soda for glass of sparkling water – which can make a HUGE difference in the grand scheme of things. 

1.)     Eat more whole grains - this means taking out the processed refined white flours and starches in your diet.  An easy way to start is to substitute with whole grains such as brown rice, buckwheat, farro, millet and oats which offer far more nutrients – including protein and fiber!  To see a full description of whole grains vs. refined grains see the list on the CDC website HERE.

2.)     Eat foods you actually enjoy – the hardest thing for us to grasp when starting a healthy diet is that we have to eat plain, bland foods.  That’s just simply not the case anymore.  There are so many great healthy foods available to us that we all may find delicious in our own way.  Start by choosing fruits and veggies that you actually enjoy!  If you can’t find a vegetable you enjoy try by adding some flavor with seasoning and a small amount of oil.  Also, try to cook various ways.  If you absolutely cannot stomach raw veggies, then don’t eat them that way!  Try sautéing them stovetop, or try baking them, or roasting.  Experiment with different ways to eat things you may not otherwise enjoy.  There is also magic in using garlic, spices and herbs when cooking!  They add so much flavor and variety to any dish.

3.)     Go meatless one day per week – There are numerous amounts of published research on how replacing animal protein with an equivalent amount of plant protein is associated with lower risk of mortality – especially heart disease.  Try swapping lentils in your taco instead of ground beef, or a veggie burger instead of a beef burger.  We’re not talking anything crazy.  One day a week is a very achievable goal in finding balance and finding ways to become heart healthy!

4.)     Try drinking water before having a snack – 9 times out of 10 you’re not even hungry and just eating out of boredom.  Try having a glass of water before grabbing that cookie or bag of chips and get up and go for a walk.  Sometimes if we find a distraction we will end up forgetting about the snack and in turn cut out those unnecessary calories and burn calories in the process by just being a bit more active! 

5.)     Start with veggies – When vegetables are competing with other items on your plate chances are you will eat less of them or none at all.  Not only will the vegetables help to fill you up but it will also help you get in your total servings for the week.  See the link HERE for the recommended CDC servings you and your family should be getting per week. 

The above are meant to be guidelines and while there are certainly more tactics that one can employ to begin the journey to a healthier lifestyle these are a few to help get you started on the right track!  Taking small steps that are achievable and staying consistent will help achieve those long term goals.  You've got this!  Feel free to email me any questions or comment below if you have any questions!

Until next time....