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14 simple ways to eat healthier and feel better

Published by Business Insider on Mon, 21 Mar 2016

Eating healthy can help you lose weight and have more energy.It can also improve your mood and reduce your risk of disease.Yet despite all these benefits, maintaining ahealthy diet and lifestyle can be difficult.Here are 14 ways to stick to a healthy diet:1. Start with realistic expectationsEating a nutritious diet has many benefits, including potential weight loss.However, its important to set realistic expectations. For example, if you pressure yourself to lose weight too quickly, your plan to achieve better health may backfire.Researchers found that obese people who expected to lose a lot of weight were more likely to drop out of a weight loss program within 612 months (1).On the other hand, setting a more realistic and achievable goal can keep you from getting discouraged and may even lead to greater weight loss.2. Think about what really motivates youRemembering why youre making healthy choices can help you stay on course.It can be helpful to make a list of the specific reasons why you want to get healthier.Keep this list handy, and refer to it when you feel you need a reminder.3. Keep unhealthy foods out of the houseIts really tough to eat healthy if youre always surrounded by junk foods.If other family members want to keep these foods around, at least keep them hidden, rather than on counter tops.The saying out of sight, out of mind definitely applies here.Having food on display in various areas of the house has been linked to obesity and an increased consumption of unhealthy foods (2, 3).4. Dont have an all or nothing approachA major roadblock to achieving a healthy diet and lifestyle is black and white thinking.One common scenario is that you have a few unhealthy appetizers at a party and decide that your diet is ruined for the day, and proceed to overindulge in unhealthy foods.Instead of considering the day ruined, try putting the past behind you and choosing healthy, unprocessed foods that contain protein for the remainder of the party.This will help you feel full and satisfied, rather than stuffed and frustrated.A few off-plan choices make very little difference in the long run, as long as you balance them with healthy foods.5. Carry healthy snacksSticking to a healthy diet can be tough when youre away from home for extended periods of time.Unfortunately, when you get too hungry, you may end up grabbing whatever is available.This is is often processed food, which doesnt really satisfy hunger and isnt good for you in the long run.Having healthy high-protein snacks on hand can help keep your appetite in check until youre able to have a full meal (4).Some examples of good, portable snacks are almonds, peanuts and jerky. Also consider filling a small cooler with hard-boiled eggs, cheese or Greek yogurt.6. Change diet and exercise at the same timeYou may have heard you shouldnt change too many things at once when trying to improve your health. In general, this is good advice.However, research has shown that when you make both dietary and physical activity changes at the same time, the results tend to reinforce each other.In a study of 200 people, the group that began eating a healthy diet and exercising at the same time found it easier to maintain these behaviors than those who started with either diet or exercise alone and then added the other later (5).7. Have a game plan before eating outTrying to maintain a healthy diet while eating out can be very challenging.Fortunately, there are ways to make it easier.Its best to have a strategy in place before you get to the restaurant, rather than being overwhelmed once you get there.8. Dont let traveling derail youWhether youre traveling for business or pleasure, being outside of familiar territory can make it difficult to stick to a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few tips:Research the restaurants and supermarkets ahead of time.Pack some healthy foods that dont spoil easily.Challenge yourself to stay on track for most of the trip.9. Practice mindful eatingEating mindfully can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.Take time to enjoy your food, and appreciate its ability to nourish you. This increases your chances of making successful, lasting behavioral changes.In one study, overweight and obese women who practiced mindful eating had significant improvements in their relationship with food over a 4-month period (6).Another study on binge eating women found that binge episodes decreased from 4 to 1.5 per week, and the severity of each binge also decreased. This happened in only 6 weeks (7).10. Track and monitor your progressLogging the foods you eat into a diary, online food tracker or app can help you stick to a healthy diet and lose weight (8, 9, 10).Measuring your exercise progress is also beneficial, and provides you with motivation that can help you keep going.Researchers reported that overweight women who were given pedometers walked farther and lost 6 times more weight than women who didnt use them over the course of 3 months (11).11. Get a partner to join youSticking with a healthy eating and exercise plan can be tough to do on your own.Having a diet or exercise buddy may be helpful, especially if that person is your partner or spouse (12, 13).When researchers looked at data from over 3,000 couples, they found that when one person made a positive lifestyle change, such as increasing physical activity, the other was more likely to follow their lead (13).12. Start the day with a high-protein breakfastIf your first meal is well balanced and contains adequate protein, youre more likely to maintain stable blood sugar levels and not overeat for the rest of the day (14, 15).In one study, overweight women who consumed at least 30 grams of protein at breakfast felt more satisfied and ate fewer calories at lunch than women who ate a lower-protein breakfast (15).13. Realize it takes time to change your habitsDont be discouraged if it takes longer than you expect to adapt to your new healthy way of living.Researchers have found that it takes about 66 days, on average, to make a new behavior a habit (16).Eventually, eating healthfully and exercising regularly will become automatic.14. Figure out what works best for youThere is no perfect way of eating that works for everyone.Its important that you find a way of eating and exercising that you enjoy, find sustainable and can stick to for the rest of your life.The best diet for YOU is the one you can stick to in the long run.SEE ALSO:More than half the calories in Americans' diets come from something we probably shouldn't be eating at allMORE:What the author of 'Eat Fat, Get Thin' eats ' and avoids ' every dayJoin the conversation about this storyNOW WATCH: Eating habits that can improve your health ' according to scientists
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