Healthy Eating Habits: 15 Simple and Effective Healthy Eating Habits to Help You With Your Health Without Starving Yourself or Giving Up Your Favorite Foods
Healthy eating habits, as used here, is a reference to food intake routines that will help you with your physical well-being. In this research article, I will share with you 12 simple but very effective eating habits that you can adopt and practice for your health. The benefit of habits is that once the habits are in place, you don’t have to think about it and exercise so much discipline to keep your health in order.
So without further ado, here are the 15 habits
1. Consult your doctor before making any drastic changes. I am not a medical doctor. Even if I were a medical doctor, I am not familiar with your medical history. Therefore, you would do yourself well to make sure you talk with your doctor about your eating habits and hear his/her thoughts on any drastic changes, before you make the change.
2. Be a student and experimenter. As more and more research is performed, more helpful information is published. On one hand, don’t believe everything that you read. But on the other hand, when you find several authorities saying the same thing, there is probably something to be learned.
As you study also experiment. Your body is different than others. And your body is changing. So if your studying suggests that you ought to try something, you may want to try it. But also track it. If it works, great. If it doesn’t work then be open to other experiments. If it is causing harm then it is obviously time to stop.
3. Eat until satisfied, not stuffed. Some of us grew up with parents who required us to eat all that was on our plate. As adults, we may still live by this requirement, even when it means we are eating more than we need to be satisfied. This leads to unnecessary calories and weight. Work on putting less on your plate or boxing the extra food up for another time.
4. Adopt a habit or two at a time. To help you avoid being overwhelmed, try a couple of the easier habits first. Add one of two more when you feel that you have mastered the previously adopted habits. Keep going.
5. Stop, regroup, and try again, if you mess up. It is not strange to make a mistake and eat in an unhealthy way. This is especially the case around holidays or when faced with a crisis. Make sure you stop; don’t just keep eating. Regroup or refocus on the importance of healthy eating and what you need to be eating. Try again. Instead of beating yourself up for what you have done, just go forward from here. You cannot change yesterday, but you can choose to do better from here forward.
What to Eat
6. Know and satisfy your macro-nutrients requirements. Know how many calories, protein grams, fat grams, carbohydrate grams, fiber grams, and calcium you need to eat a day. And then make sure you satisfy the requirements. Having a meal plan will come in very helpful with this sort of thing. Most of this information can be found on the food labels. There are also sites like nutritiondata.self.com that provide nutrition information.
Regarding calories, you can use websites like calorieking.com to determine a healthy amount of daily calories. For example, mine is about 2,000 calories a day.
Regarding protein, nutritiondata.self.com recommends a range of 10-35% of our calories coming from protein. Since protein grams count for four calories and because I prefer the 20% range, I can have 100 grams of protein a day (2,000 daily calories x 20% / 4 calories = 100 protein grams). Protein forms the basic machinery of the cells in our body. Poultry, nuts, and eggs are great sources of protein. Eating 35-45% of your daily protein with your first meal can give you energy for the middle and rest of the day.
Regarding fat, nutritiondata.self.com recommends a range of 20-35% of our calories coming from fat. Since fat grams count for nine calories and because I prefer the 25% range, I can have 56 grams of fat a day (2,000 daily calories x 25% / 9 calories = 56 fat grams). Fat is good for transporting vitamins like A, D, E, and K; providing insulation and protection for vital organs; and a rather concentrated form of energy. Healthy fat like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat are found in foods like avocados, eggs, and nuts. Avoid unhealthy fats like trans and saturated fats, which are found in foods like fast food, animal products (e.g., meat, milk, and cheese), and hydrogenated oil (non-natural peanut butter, shortening, and margarine).
Regarding carbohydrates, nutritiondata.self.com recommends a range of 45-65% of our calories coming from carbohydrates. Since carbohydrate grams count for four calories and because I prefer the 55% range, I can have 275 grams of carbohydrates a day (2,000 daily calories x 55% / 4 calories = 275 grams of carbohydrates). Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy among other things. Sources of complex carbohydrates (i.e., good carbs) are bananas, broccoli, apples, pears, and leafy greens. Add unprocessed whole grains like brown rice, barley, oatmeal, quinoa, millet, bulgur, and wheat berries. Avoid the simply or bad carbohydrates like sugar, refined flour, white rice, soda, candy. Simple carbohydrates make your blood sugar rise too quickly and leads to fat storage.
Regarding fiber, according to webmd.com, men should have 38 grams a fiber a day and women need 25 grams of fiber a day. Fiber is good for keeping blood cholesterol levels lower and preventing constipation, among other benefits. The following are great sources of fiber: whole grains, vegetables, beans, and fruit.
Add calcium to your diet. Among other things, calcium is good for your bones and teeth. Aim for 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams a day. Yogurt, sardines, sesame seeds, and orange juice are noted sources of calcium.
So in my case, I work on consuming 2,000 calories a day, including 100 grams of protein, 56 grams of fat, 275 grams of carbohydrate, 38 grams of fiber, and 1,200 milligrams of calcium. Your task is to figure out what your body needs and make sure you meet the daily requirements.
7. Develop healthy and delicious meal and snack plans. Through study and experimentation develop seven breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks that are both healthy and delicious. This will allow you to simply choose one of the preapproved meals or snacks with the confidence that you are eating something that is both healthy and delicious.
Trying to wake up and be creative each morning can be unnecessarily difficult. Without proper planning, it is easy to prepare something that is healthy but not very tasty, which means you may not stay with it too long. Or you may prepare something that is delicious but is not healthy, which means you are sabotaging your health efforts. On a scale of one to five, with five being high, try to have meals and snacks that are at least a three out of five in both categories.
Having seven prepared options for each of the meals and snacks gives you some variety, so you don’t get bored with the same meal or snack every day. If you need more variety, develop 12 options for each meal and snacks or as many as you like. Seven is a great start.
8. Eat at least five servings of vegetables and fruits a day. According to cdc.gov, vegetables and fruit may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. They provide essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health. They are naturally low in fat and calories, while also being filling.
Try to eat raw vegetables and fruits, so you can get the maximum nutritional value out of them. Steaming vegetables is a good way to do something to vegetables and retain a significant amount of the nutrients. Aim for a colorful array of vegetables and fruit, so you can have an array of vitamins and nutrients.
9. Drink plenty of water. According to mayoclinic.org, drinking water helps flush toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells, and provides a moist environment for ear, nose, and throat tissue.
About three liters of water or at least liquid a day is recommended for men and 2.2 liters for women. You would do well to add more if you are sweating during an intense or prolonged workout (1 hour or more). Don’t pollute your water with sugar additives. Try to drink plain water or add some juice from fresh squeezed lemons, limes, or oranges.
10. Know and respect the portion sizes. If one serving of a food has 200 calories and 3 fat grams that is one thing. But if you eat three servings, you have to multiply each number by three. So now you have 600 calories and 9 fat grams. Study the label to understand what a portion size is.
11. Eat your favorite foods wisely. If you love foods that are not healthy for you to eat, it can be very difficult to simply stop eating them all together. However, instead of eating them every day, discipline yourself to simply have a small portion on an infrequent basis. Eat them slowly and savor every bite, when you do eat them. Try to find healthier alternatives.
12. Keep terrible foods out of your house. Especially if you are an emotional eater, having unhealthy food in the house is a bad idea. If you eat when you are bored or angry and you have candy, pop, and chips in the house, you can see the risk that you run. However, if the junk food is not in the house, you will normally stop yourself before you go all the way to the store to buy and then eat these items. Avoid or at least limit white bread, sugar, salt, and flour.
13. Practice discipline when eating out. First, you may want to eat at home most of the time, so you can control the ingredients and portion sizes more. Second, staying with salads, with dressing on the side, and/or poultry (not fried chicken or fish) tend to be better choices. Third, skip the appetizers, desserts, and sugary drinks. Fourth, you may want to box up a portion of the meal at the beginning to help you avoid eating it all. Eat the portion that you do eat slowly. Put the fork down, chew your food, and clear your pallet before the next mouth full.
14. Eat at least five times a day. Eating just three meals a day is not the best thing for a number of people who are concerned with living a healthy life. First, we tend to get hungry after about three hours of no eating. Second, the more intense our hunger, the more likely we are to over eat.
Having breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, and dinner, with an optional snack has a couple of major benefits, according to webmd.com. First, it will keep you from ever getting hungry because you are always an hour or two away from eating. Second, it helps to keep your blood sugar from dropping to low. Make sure all of your eating fits within your macro-nutrient requirements.
15. Stop eating three hours before you go to bed. This is an example of intermittent fasting. Some argue that the body burns fat from six hours after eating until it starts to digest food again. So, if you stop eating three hours before you go to bed, sleep eight hours, and then eat an hour and a half after you wake up, your body will burn fat for about five and half hours (3+8+1/2= 11 ½ – 6= 5 ½). However, if you eat right before bed time, you lose three hours of fat burning. Think about how three hours a day times seven days a week equals 21 hours of fat burning a week, 84 hours every four weeks (i.e., roughly a month), and over 1,000 hours a year. Even if you don’t buy the fat burning concept, my digestive issues were helped (e.g., bloating, acid reflux, etc.).
Start with some basic preparations. Focus on the many good things that you should eat. And focus on timing. Adopt a habit or two at your own pace. If you make a mistake or two, don’t quit. Adjust and keep going.