Today I wanted to share an article with you guys that I wrote for Food and Nutrition Magazine, the magazine of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics! I shared the link yesterday so some of you may have read it, but I wanted to share a jazzed up version of it (with pictures) here as well because it covers all of my most common recommendations and tips that I give to anyone trying to live a healthier lifestyle!
Although I don’t think that there’s a one-size-fits-all diet, I do think there are some general principles that everyone should practice when it comes to healthy living.
Here they are:
1) Eat Enough Calories
Everyone’s calorie needs are different, and it’s important to not go overboard, but not eating enough sends your body into starvation mode and also makes it harder to lose weight. Figure out how many calories YOUR body needs and strive to eat that amount daily by creating balanced meals and choosing healthy snacks.
2) Practice Moderation
Allow yourself to eat the things you really want every once and a while. It’s perfectly fine to enjoy things like ice cream, cookies or a latte with whipped cream. Just don’t make it an every day occurrence. I may be an RD, but I love a big bowl of froyo topped with oreos and m&ms every once and a while!
3) Eat Breakfast
Skipping breakfast does nothing but lead to low blood sugar, moodiness and overeating later. Just remember that you aren’t limited to “traditional” breakfast foods. If you like leftover chicken and rice for breakfast, go for it! If you’re an oatmeal fan, more power to you! Focus on putting together a breakfast with complex carbs, lean protein and healthy fats. It will increase your metabolism, energy and focus.
4) Limit Processed Foods
Processed foods are almost always packed with sodium, sugar, artificial ingredients and other things your body doesn’t need. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats like avocado and nut butter. Experiment in the kitchen and learn to make your own versions of your favorite processed foods like granola bars, crackers, etc.
5) Drink Water
Remember that the calories in your drinks count towards your total calories for the day! Choose water most of the time and remember that if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Take a water bottle with you everywhere to remind you to drink more often. And use additions like berries, mint or lemon to flavor your water if you don’t like it plain.
6) Eat More Vegetables
Make an effort to increase your vegetable intake every day, especially the non-starchy kind. Also try to eat a variety of different vegetables and colors so that you get all the different nutrients they offer.
7) Cook More at Home
When you do the cooking, you control the ingredients. Cook extra for dinner and pack the leftovers for lunch. If you do eat out, be smart about it. Watch your portion sizes, save half for later, order extra veggies instead of starches, and ask for things like dressings and sauces on the side.
8) Buy Local and Choose Organic (When Possible and Practical)
Shop your local farmer’s market. You’ll often find fruits and vegetables that were picked that very day and haven’t lost their nutrients while traveling or sitting on a shelf. Know the “dirty dozen” (foods that have the most pesticide residue) and focus on buying organic versions of those fruits and vegetables as well as possibly dairy and meat products.
9) Be Aware of What You’re Eating
Learn proper portion sizes and take the time to learn about the quality of the foods you’re eating and where they come from. Pay attention to how often you’re eating and make sure you’re not doing so out of boredom.
10) Be Physically Active
Physical activity can help control your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as your weight. It can also help improve your brain function, concentration and sleep quality. Whether it’s running, crossfit, basketball or walking the dog…get yourself up and moving every day!
11) Sleep Enough
Aim for eight hours every night. To help meet this goal, power down and disconnect from your electronics at least one hour before bedtime and focus on more calming activities like meditation, reading or journaling. When you’re tired, you’re more likely to eat poorly — so make an effort to get enough sleep each night.
If you’re looking to improve your health, these 11 simple ideas are a great place to start! Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to tackle them all at once. Instead, choose a few to work on immediately and slowly add more as they turn into healthy habits.
What are some other healthy living tips you would add to this list?!