#4 Tips for Dining Out
It's not as easy to maintain a healthy diet if you eat many of your meals at restaurants -- those salads might not be as appealing as a greasy cheeseburger and fries. Restaurants frequently serve huge portions of food too, much more than you need.
If you can't hold your resolve to stick to the dinner salads, try a compromise -- pick out an appetizer you love, combine it with a salad or a cup of soup, and skip the larger entrees. You can also share a meal or take half of it home. Dying for desert? Order as small a size as possible, or maybe just one scoop of ice cream, rather than a larger, heavier desert. Be careful with the after-dinner drinks as well. Maybe just have one glass of wine with your meal.
Fast food dining is especially difficult -- if you eat a lot of it, you already know how difficult it is to eat healthy. Some places have added salads and some better choices, but it really isn't a good way to eat. Keep fast food dining to a minimum, don't go with the super sizes, and choose places that offer more fresh foods.
#5 Hate to Cook?
The best way to improve your diet is to cook more meals at home. But if you hate to cook, all that fresh produce you bring home from the grocery store may just rot in your refrigerator. Depending on your budget, you might prefer to purchase prepared foods from markets that specialize in healthy, whole foods, or even hire a personal chef to prepare meals that only need to be heated and served.
If you have a tighter budget, perhaps you can set aside some time on weekends to prepare meals and freeze them to be reheated later that week. Or try once a month cooking. Set aside enough time to do your shopping for a few days' worth of healthy food and ingredients. Make a list and stick to it.
Don't go shopping when you're hungry, and once you're at the store, stay away from the junk and the processed food aisles. Buy lots of fresh produce and choose lean meats and fish. Stay away from processed meats, fake cheese products and avoid the snack aisle. If you have no choice but to shop infrequently, choose frozen fruits and vegetables instead of canned, as they retain more of their nutrients.
#6 Don't Skip Meals
If you skip breakfast, you may find that you lose energy by midmorning, so rather than skipping breakfast completely, split it in half. Eat a small breakfast early, such as an egg, small serving of oatmeal, or some yogurt. A small snack such as raisins and 10 to 12 almonds around midmorning. This split breakfast is a much better solution than reaching for sugary sodas or candy bars to perk yourself up.
Lunch and dinner are important too -- in fact, all meals are important. Skipping meals may cause you to feel extremely hungry and result in overeating at the next meal.
#7 Control Portion Size
Stomachs really aren't that large. The unstretched human stomach will hold about 2 cups of food but because the stomach will stretch, it can hold considerably more food than we need at any given meal.
Serve your meals on individual plates at home rather than family style at the table -- you'll be less likely to reach for "seconds" that way. Ask for "take home" containers and take half of your meal home when you dine in restaurants. And avoid buffets, unless you are very disciplined, it's way too tempting to load up 3 or 4 plates, plus dessert!
#8 Tame Your Sweet ToothCurb your cravings for sweets with fruits and stay away from sugary snacks and pastries that have lots of calories with all the sugar and fats. If the fruits and berries aren't sweet enough for you, add just a bit of sugar or non-nutritive sweetener. Avoid sodas and try iced herbal teas, or ice water with lemon or lime. If you miss the carbonation, add some fruit juice to carbonated water, as I mentioned earlier.
#9 Things You Won't Give Up
Do you feel like you can't live without your chocolate, or your mornings just can't begin without a giant donut with sprinkles? If there are foods you won't give up, then don't -- just enjoy them in smaller amounts. Love your latte? Stick with just one regular sized cup, instead of a giant 20 ounce cup. Limit other treats or favorite foods that aren't healthy, try to limit them to one time per week, or search for healthier versions at natural foods markets.
#10 Rome Wasn't Built in a Day
So you can't transform your unhealthy diet overnight -- don't despair, most people can't. Start implementing some of these ideas, even just one at a time. Every change you make will be one step in the right direction.
Harvard School of Public Health. "Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar." Accessed July 4, 2014. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar
Larsson SC, Orsini N. "Red meat and processed meat consumption and all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis." Am J Epidemiol. 2014 Feb 1;179(3):282-9.