It doesn’t have to be a chore to eat better. I know it can sound like the death knell to all your favorite foods but these hacks will get you eating better in small easy steps.
The trick is to make small changes slowly. If your aim is weight loss, just being a bit fitter, or feeling a bit better, don’t try to be the healthiest eater on the planet from Day 1. That’s why most diets don’t work.
Instead, You want to follow the habits of people who lose weight and keep it off. Try making one small achievable improvement at a time and you’ll find yourself on the road to a healthier waistline.
How To Eat Better
- Set an achievable goal and work towards it in small steps.
- Take your before pictures and record your progress.
- Eat the right amount of calories for your body
- Choose good nutrition:
- a variety of fresh foods of different colors
- whole grains
- plant-based alternatives to dairy products
- protein from peas, beans, nuts, seeds, soy
- reduced amounts of seafood, lean meats, eggs
- small amounts of healthy fats
- Limit sodium, added sugar, and saturated fats
- Find your support group to help stay on track.
- Meal plan and keep healthy snacks to hand.
Why It’s Important
Eating better helps you maintain a healthy weight. It’s good for your overall health and disease control.
Poor diets are linked to chronic disease such as
- heart disease and strokes (caused by high blood pressure and high cholesterol),
- Type 2 diabetes,
- certain types of cancer (overweight and obesity is linked to 13 types of cancer)
- kidney disease.
Delicious Meals With Healthy Recipes
Meal planning from delicious recipes will make healthy eating much easier. You’ll learn to enjoy the taste of natural food. The subtle sweetness of fruits and the kick of spices.
Combine healthy eating with physical activity to hit your weight loss goals. Walking for weight loss will boost your moods and give you greater willpower to keep your healthy eating on track.
32 Easy-To-Follow Hacks To Help You Eat Better
Read on for easy-to-follow hacks to help you eat better.
#1 Set A Goal
Goals are ways of keeping yourself accountable. Don’t just guess your efforts are working, set goals and measure your results. “I think I’m eating better” doesn’t have quite the same impact as “I know I’m eating better”.
Just make sure it’s a goal you can stick to. Be realistic! If you’re 50 pounds overweight telling yourself you’re going to look like Jennifer Lawrence in 3 months’ time doesn’t quite hack it.
#2 Plan Small Steps
You may have a big overall goal but you can still break it down into small steps. It could be as simple as I’m going to swap my choccie biccies this month for fresh fruit.
When your small step becomes a habit you can add in the next one. It all adds up to making progress.
#3 Take Your Before Pictures
Hate taking pictures of yourself? I know – you’re not the only one. It’s still important to have those before pictures. You’re saying to yourself; “I can be better than this”.
#4 Get Out The Tape Measure
BMI can be highly inaccurate. If you’re trying to lose weight and also exercise, your body will change shape. Fat becomes muscle making you stronger. It’s one reason why your weight loss can seem slow.
A Tape Measure Is A Good Way To Record Fat Loss
Muscle is heavier but also denser than fat, so you may not see much movement on the scales. The tape measure is your answer. Record losing inches.
Take your before measurements now: the widest part of your body, (your butt), hips, waist, top of each thigh, each knee, bust, and top of each arm.
#5 Have A Clear Out
You can have the strongest will in the world, but if there’s a cupboard full of goodies within reach it’s so hard to avoid temptation.
Get that junk food out of the house! Bin the ice cream and chocolate chip cookies. Yes, you can do this!
Stock up on healthy snacks instead. Nuts (go easy on quantities), fruit, carrot sticks. Anything to stop you from reaching for food choices you’ll regret.
#6 Get Your Family On Board
It’s easier to follow a healthy diet if your family members or the people you live with are supportive. Hopefully, they’ll agree to eat better with you.
Children who grow up in families making healthy choices are more likely to eat better and maintain a healthy weight as adults.
At least get them to keep the types of food you’re trying to avoid out of sight. That treat cupboard doesn’t have to be next to the kettle!
#7 Meal Plan
There’s nothing like coming home to an empty cupboard when you’re trying to eat better. When you’re tired and hungry it’s easy to end up ordering a takeaway for your main meal. I know! We’ve all been there!
Meal planning helps you avoid lapses by planning meals of nutritious foods in advance. If you know you have a busy week coming up, meal prep on Sunday night. Be prepared!
#8 Drink More Water
Yeah, but what if you don’t like water?
It doesn’t have to be water, just non-sugary drinks. Try and avoid artificial sweeteners too.
Thirst is easy to confuse with hunger. We reach for food when we should be quenching our thirst. Make sure you stay hydrated, especially in the hot summer months.
I can be really bad at this. Blogging away I forget to go and fetch a drink. My solution is to keep a water bottle to hand. It’s there on my desk reminding me to drink.
Drinking water has also been linked to boosting your metabolism. Now that’s another reason to drink more water!
#9 Lose Weight Slowly
Get this one wrong and you’re heading for a life of misery – yo-yo dieting where you lose too much weight too soon and pile it all back on 6 months later.
Need to lose a few pounds in a hurry? Stick to just a few pounds. Losing a lot of weight in a hurry normally ends in tears.
Worst still, you’ll have messed up your metabolism and round two will be so much harder. The official guidance is to aim for a weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week.
That’s a sensible approach to eating fewer calories. Take into account your activity levels and aim for a calorie deficit of no more than 500 calories.
For women, the calorie deficit may need to be smaller. For example, a sedentary woman over 50 may only need 1600 calories a day (compared with 2200 calories for sedentary men).
A deficit of 500 calories for a woman could be a third of her calorie needs and very hard to maintain.
There’s a danger of your body switching into hibernation mode. For women, it’s better to eat sensibly, say 1500 calories a day, and create your calorie deficit from exercising regularly.
Losing 1-2 pounds a week may not seem like much but just think about it. If you have a lot of weight to lose – that’s still 50 to 100 pounds in a year. Weight that stays off.
#10 Choose A Diet That Works
I’m not a huge fan of diets. Most overpromise and underdeliver. With most of the lose-weight-fast diets, you’re mainly shedding water as your glycogen stores decline.
Even with the best diets as soon as you stop the diet and start eating normally again, the weight piles back on.
There’s a better way. Instead of following the latest popular book, the latest fad diet:
Eat Real Food
Eating real food, vegetables, fruit, lean protein, and low GI carbohydrates are key to weight loss. Try these healthy vegetables!
Preparing food doesn’t have to be difficult. A tasty bowl of salad can be put together in minutes!
That said, it’s always tempting to download the latest trendy weight loss plan – something to follow that promises a life-changing diet. We’ve all been there! Just make sure it offers healthy eating and doesn’t over-promise weight loss.
#11 Carb Or Not To Carb
Confused about carbs? You’re not the only one! Keto diet lovers will tell you they’re public enemy number 1!
What is the Keto Diet?
The Ketogenic (Keto) diet strictly controls carbohydrates so that your body starts breaking down its fat stores for energy. Instead of carbs, Keto converts follow a diet full of healthy fats, protein, and leafy vegetables.
Originally the diet was used to control seizures in children suffering from epilepsy and there’s strong evidence to support these benefits. There’s less medical evidence when it comes to using it for weight loss.
A Keto Diet Is Hard To Keep Up
Now don’t get me wrong. You can lose weight quickly following a Keto diet. It’s just the diet is hard to stick to. Eating only a few extra carbs a day can jeopardize your weight loss goals. Plus are you really prepared to adopt the Keto diet for good?
For long-term results, eating limited healthy fats such as olive oil, filling up on fruit and vegetables, opting for fiber-rich unrefined carbs and modest amounts of meat and cheese are your best bet for a healthy lifestyle.
#12 Take The Simple Option
If counting calories and recording your diet in minute detail appeals to your inner OCD that’s fine. Just be wary that overly obsessing over your diet can be a one-way ticket to an eating disorder.
Diet may be more important than exercise for weight loss but it shouldn’t become an obsession. You want to love your life not waste it on the misery of an eating disorder.
Keep things simple. Take the real food route and learn to love filling your plate with colorful vegetables.
#13 Plate Sizes
Plates just get bigger and bigger and today’s chinaware bears little resemblance to plates sizes 50 plus years ago. We’re used to eating oversized portions and have lost the ability to judge a sensible serving size and stop eating when full.
A simple way to lose weight is to try replacing your plates and bowls with smaller sizes. It’s better to consciously get up and refill your plate with seconds than mindlessly chomp your way through a huge pile of food.
#14 Portion Control
Just like plate sizes, our portion sizes have gotten bigger. McDonald’s may have stopped supersizing back in 2004 but as a rule, we’re still consuming far too many calories in one sitting.
A Big Mac is 540 calories. Add a large fries and you’re topping 1000 calories just for one meal – half the recommended daily calorie intake for most women.
Even with healthier meal choices, it’s still easy to overeat and blow a big chunk of your daily calorie allowance in one sitting.
#15 Eat A Balanced Meal
It helps with weight loss and maintenance to fill at least 50% of your plate with low-calorie fruit and vegetables with an emphasis on leafy greens. Just 25% should be fiber-rich carbohydrates and 25% protein. Go for lean protein sources if you’re trying to lose weight.
Healthy fats are essential to your diet – just don’t overdo it. 2 teaspoons of olive oil (10ml) are all you need to complete your healthy plate.
#16 Think Of Food As Fuel
When you start off your weight loss plan with exercise, you’re changing how you think about food.
Your weight is no longer just cosmetic or about your health. You realize it stops you from doing stuff! Excess weight slows down your running, and stops you from walking up hills, or achieving more advanced yoga poses.
Committing to getting in shape and using your body as it’s intended helps you care about the food you’re eating. Your food is the fuel your body needs to exercise.
You wouldn’t put cheap fuel in a racing car so why fill your body full of junk?
#17 Work Out Your Ideal Meal Frequency
Not everyone’s the same when it comes to ideal meal frequency. Intermittent fasting, where you aim for daily 16-hour fasts, is all the rage right now.
There’s a strong argument for this approach. Going back to our hunter-gatherer days, food wasn’t served up at regular intervals from a refrigerator.
The most popular method is 16/8 fasting where you skip or take a late breakfast and stop eating in the early evening. An eating window of 11 am to 7 pm is common. (You can still drink water during your fasting period).
It doesn’t suit everyone. If you’re the type of person who skips breakfast and ends up binge eating later in the day, it’s not for you.
There’s nothing wrong with eating at regular intervals. Try experimenting and see what works for you.
Some people find fasting is better for controlling their weight. For others, it’s eating 3 small meals and 3 snacks a day to avoid getting too hungry.
# 18 Get Plenty Of Sleep
The best health plans are foiled when we’re tired. It’s a lot easier to stay on track with better eating habits if you’re getting plenty of Zzzs. We’re never at our best when we skimp on sleep.
Avoiding comfort eating or saying no to the cream cake your friend’s trying to ply you with, is so much easier when you’re getting your 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
#19 Develop A Strategy
There are situations where we’re at our weakest when it comes to diet. It could be film night on the couch with a junk food-loving partner or when you arrive home tired after a long day at work.
Try and work out when you’re at your most vulnerable and come up with a coping strategy. A simple change could be air-popped popcorn for a film night or a bowl of carrot sticks to take the edge off your hunger when you arrive home from work.
#20 Have Healthy Snacks To Hand
Instead of a sin bin full of chocolate bars, build your healthy bin of snack foods. Anything from bananas to roasted chickpeas or hard-boiled eggs.
Work out your favorite healthy snacks and make sure there’s always something available to eat when hunger strikes. It’s better to reach for nutritious food than blow your good intentions on a high-calorie brownie.
If you spend a lot of time in office meetings try and persuade the organizers to provide healthy food options. Here are some easy-to-prepare healthy breakfast ideas.
#21 Quit Eating Sugar
This isn’t about eliminating sugar entirely from your diet. It will always be present in natural sources such as fruit.
It’s about cutting out that granulated white poison that does nothing for our nutrition and has contributed to the obesity epidemic in the US and UK.
#22 Try Frozen Foods
One complaint about healthy eating is the cost. Yes, fresh fruit and vegetables can be expensive.
An alternative is frozen fruit and vegetables. Picked in peak condition, these can be just as nutritious. Good options for the freezer are peas, beans, cauliflower, spinach, corn, and berries.
#23 Opt For Whole Grains
Coarse-cut oats, brown rice, whole-grain bread, and pasta will keep you full for longer.
These carbohydrates have a low glycemic index (GI) that won’t send your blood sugar levels sky-high. Plus they’re packed with nutritious B-vitamins.
#24 Start Using A Shopping List
It’s easy to get carried away when you’re shopping for food – especially if you’re shopping on an empty stomach. (It’s always best to have something to eat before you go to the grocery store).
One way to make sure you stick to your healthy eating habit is to use a shopping list. It will help to keep junk food off the menu!
#25 Check Nutrition Labels
While I always advocate eating real food and cooking from scratch, it’s not always possible when you’re time-poor.
Get into the habit of checking food labels when you’re tempted by new products. Look for hidden ingredients that blow your plans to eat better.
#26 Make Soup
Everyone loves soup! It’s also highly nutritious and usually low in calories. Plus it’s a great way to use up leftover vegetables and meat.
Making a filling bowl of soup can be as easy as combining your leftover veggies with some stock. Here’s a quick and easy recipe.
#27 Stock Your Pantry
It helps to always have some basic ingredients on hand so you can whip up a nutritious meal at any time.
Fill your pantry with tins of sweet corn, tinned tomatoes, beans, and chickpeas. Make sure there are packets of wholewheat pasta, jars of pesto, and stock cubes.
Top up your supply of fresh onions and garlic and always have peas and other favorite vegetables in the freezer.
This way you can always rustle up a quick and simple meal without speed dialing your local takeaway.
#28 Avoid Low Fat And Diet Foods
Check the ingredients of the low-fat alternative to your favorite foodstuffs and you’ll often find the fat content has been swapped for sugar.
It’s often better to eat a small quantity of your favorite food and enjoy it than be disappointed by the diet version substitute.
#29 Think Twice Before Drinking Smoothies
Those smoothies and fruit juices may seem healthy but have you ever thought about the ingredients?
It’s one thing to eat an apple or two in one sitting, but a small cup of apple juice can contain as many as 4 apples – that’s twice the calories and twice the sugar content.
Stick to eating your fruit whole if you’re trying to lose weight or reduce your sugar intake.
#30 Choose Fresh Not Processed Meat
The food manufacturers would love you to believe mechanically separated meat is safe to eat.
It’s basically made up of all the leftover meat when you’ve taken off the prime cuts. The stuff you throw away after your Sunday roast.
Personally, I’d rather stick to the real deal than eat something formed out of a paste of skin and leftover meat waste laden with sodium and preservatives.
If you want to eat better, hot dogs, chicken nuggets and other dodgy processed meats should be off the table.
#31 Get Rid Of Leftovers
When you’re full – stop eating. It’s okay not to finish everything on your plate.
You can save the scraps for another meal or do yourself a favor and toss them in the bin. Sorry, Gran! The phrase “Waste not want not”, trotted out by the older generation doesn’t help when overeating is such a problem.
(I’m not a fan of wasting food so instead, I meal plan at the start of the week – this way my food waste is minimal).
#32 Treat Yourself
It’s okay not to be perfect. The aim is to eat better rather than obsess over perfection. Follow the eating habits of certain Hollywood celebrities too closely and you could forget how to enjoy life.
Just try to eat better overall. If that means the occasional treats of your favorite foodstuff, such as these low sugar treats or baking a cake – that’s okay. Eat your favorite foods, just less often and in smaller quantities. Make sure you savor every mouthful!
Eat Better By Making Changes Slowly
Eating better shouldn’t be a chore. The idea is to learn to appreciate and enjoy the taste of real healthy food. If you’re currently a chip and burger-loving vegetable avoider, make changes to your diet slowly.
It’s better to take small steps of constant improvement than make sweeping changes to your diet you won’t be able to stick to. You’re building good habits. It can take a while but will hopefully last a lifetime.
I hope you’ve found this post helpful and an incentive to improve your eating habits. You may enjoy my other articles about eating better and losing weight:
- Fat vs. Muscle: How Does It Affect Your Weight?
- Can You Eat Raw Rolled Oats And Is It Healthy?
- 12 Cheap Vegan Meal Prep Recipes On A Budget
- How To Stop Thinking About Food: These Tips Will Help
- Vegan Meal Prep For Weight Loss (7-Day Plan With Super Easy Recipes)
- Is Diet More Important Than Exercise? (When You Want To Lose Weight)
- What’s Normal Weight For A Five Foot Seven Inch Tall Woman?
- Why Diets Don’t Work (7 Reasons To Ditch The Diets)
Set a goal but make sure it’s realistic. Make changes to your diet one small step at a time. Going from a burger-loving vegetable hater to a whole food salad eater overnight is setting yourself up for failure. Aim for slow and steady weight loss 1-2 pounds per week. Don’t cut out all your favorite foods – just save for occasional treats and reduce your portion size.
We’re surrounded by temptation and exploited by a food industry that knows how to get us eating calorie-laden food that’s bad for our waistlines. Switching overnight to a healthy food plan is a big shock to the system and most people find it too hard. It’s better to make sustainable changes to your diet one small step at a time. Don’t give up all the foods you love – just aim for smaller quantities and switch to a few healthy alternatives.
Fresh fruits and vegetables cost more to farm and deliver in prime condition to the supermarket. Quality cuts of meat are more expensive than processed food made out of scraps and leftovers on the carcass. Choosing seasonal products, using frozen vegetables, and eating small quality portions of meat, (or going meat-free), are ways to cut the cost of healthy eating.