This post about making changes to eat healthier is sponsored by Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo and Link Vehicle.
Eating healthier is one of the most discussed topics in today’s culture. Magazines, blogs, and entire TV shows are dedicated to determining what “healthy” means and how to change your diet to meet those goals. There are countless different opinions on what it means to be healthy. Embracing veganism, eating natural foods, going paleo, and drinking kale breakfast smoothies are just a few of the common variations on a healthy diet. While there are many things that different diets promote, it’s important to find the one that works for your philosophy and lifestyle.
If you’re looking to move toward a healthier diet but aren’t ready for veganism, paleo, or kale smoothies, that’s okay. There are still plenty of easy steps you can take to improve your daily diet. For many people, small steps are the easiest way to move toward a healthier diet. Here are five simple changes you can make to eat healthier.
5 Easy Ways to Eat Healthier
1. Eat More Vegetables
It’s no surprise that doctors and nutritionists have spent decades encouraging people to eat their veggies in order to eat healthier. Vegetables are packed with vitamins and nutrients scarcely found in other foods. They’re easy to digest for the most part and low in calories. The problem is that many people don’t like the taste of vegetables. Additionally, some people find fresh produce out of their budget.
The best way to get more vegetables into your diet is to find a way to enjoy the taste so you actually want to eat them. This could mean roasting cauliflower with lots of seasoning, or covering steamed broccoli with cheese sauce. If fresh produce is not within your budget, there are many frozen options that are more affordable and taste wonderful when prepared well.
2. Eat Less Refined Sugar
The excess amount of sugar in everything is arguably the most destructive part of the American diet. Even savory foods often times have added sugar. For most people, cutting out refined sugar entirely isn’t very realistic. However, you can take steps to reduce the amount of refined sugar in your diet. Instead of getting a giant sugary coffee drink every morning at your favorite coffee shop, choose a smaller size or ask for a natural sweetener. You can also just add less sugar to your morning coffee over time and gradually retrain your tastebuds. Another great idea is to replace sugary treats with fruit. Instead of having a candy bar for a mid-afternoon snack, have an apple instead.
3. Cook From Scratch
While most people don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to cook everything from scratch, every little bit helps. Start with simple things, like making homemade macaroni and cheese instead of reaching for the box. Choose to make a simple meal instead of ordering takeout. Even if you only start out cooking from scratch a couple times a week, it can really help you be healthier. Plus, it’s easier on your wallet!
4. Choose Healthier Processed Foods
Even if you enjoy cooking from scratch, there are many things that are more practical to buy premade. For items such as salad dressings and condiments, it’s usually more efficient to buy them at the store. The key is to choose brands that make high-quality products with healthy ingredients. Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo is one example of this, as it’s a vegan product that uses many natural plant ingredients.
The company is dedicated to making healthy products without artificial chemicals, and they now sell salad dressings and cookie dough as well.
5. Follow the 80/20 Rule
Constantly focusing on eating healthier and not over-indulging can become stressful and counterproductive. Many people find the best way to balance healthy eating with occasional treats is to follow the 80/20 rule. Essentially, the idea is to eat healthy 80 percent of the time, and not worry about healthy choices for the other 20 percent. This could look different for each individual. For example, some people may choose to count an after work drink every Friday as part of the 20 percent, whereas others may decide to have a small square of chocolate every night before bed.
For most people, small steps are the key to moving toward a healthier diet. Some simple changes such as eating more veggies, and less sugar and processed foods can be very helpful. The overall idea of balance is important as well so that your life doesn’t become a daily struggle of worrying about what you are eating. Many people find that following the 80/20 rule is a good way to improve their eating habits while still enjoying the occasional splurge.
For some fun recipes to help you eat healthier, you might also like:
Photos via Big Stock.
Melanie works full time at Tuft & Needle and blogs part time evenings and weekends when her daughter is working on the cars with her dad!