If you’ve been thinking about healthier eating, you’ve probably been researching different diet plans. Many diets involve big lifestyle changes, sometimes even the elimination of entire food groups, and can be hard to stick with. In fact, because dieting can be so difficult, the vast majority of diets fail. Constantly going on and off diets can wreak havoc on your body and leave you worse off than if you’d never dieted in the first place.
Does this mean you should just give up and keep your unhealthy eating habits? Of course not. The trick is to start slowly, making one small change at time. You’ll barely notice a difference, and soon you’ll be healthier than you ever were before. Follow these 5 simple steps to get started on the path toward good health.
1. Have one glass of water every day
You’ve probably heard that drinking eight glasses of water a day is important for detoxification. Let’s be honest, though. If you aren’t fond of the taste of pure water, forcing yourself to drink that much of it is going to make you miserable. Just once a day, have a glass of water instead of soda, a sweetened drink, juice, coffee or tea. You’ll soon learn to enjoy the cold, refreshing taste, and you’ll be increasing your water intake even more – while decreasing your sugar and caffeine intake – in no time.
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2. Stock your fridge with healthy snacks
A diet that doesn’t allow potato chips or chocolate chip cookies is useless if you’re hungry and there’s nothing else for you to eat. If you constantly deprive yourself when your body is telling you it needs food, you’ll end up feeling awful and giving up your diet altogether.
Keep healthy snack foods, like fruit, rice cakes, celery or hummus on hand. That way, you’ll be able to ease hunger pangs without filling your body with junk. We also recommend taking a look at Whey Thins, a filling high-protein snack you can keep in your handbag.
3. Have some whole grains
Bread, cereals and pasta made with refined grains are nutrient-poor. Whole grains, on the other hand, are full of nutrients and antioxidants. Diets rich in whole grains are associated with a reduced risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer.
You don’t have to give up your favorite pasta dish. However, you can buy a loaf of whole grain bread instead of white bread the next time you go to the supermarket, or try some oatmeal or a bowl of whole grain cereal for breakfast. Adding just a small amount of whole grains to your diet every day will do wonders for your health.
4. Let fruit satisfy your sweet tooth
It’s true that many people eat too much sugar, and that can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other serious medical conditions. Many diets recommend drastically reducing sugar intake.
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While that’s great advice in theory, it isn’t always practical. You can become addicted to sugar, and a sudden, huge reduction in how much sugar you eat will make you feel terrible and can lead to a sugar binge.
Instead of switching to an extreme low-carb diet which, if you have powerful carb cravings, you probably won’t be able to maintain, have some fruit instead of a sugary processed dessert. You’ll still enjoy a sweet taste, and you’ll be getting nutrients not found in processed treats. In addition, the fiber in fruit will make you digest the sugar more slowly, so it will have a less damaging effect on your body.
5. Treat yourself to an unprocessed meal once a week
Processed foods can be overloaded with sugar, salt, artificial colors and artificial flavors. Clean eating advocates rightly say that you should avoid them and instead make your own meals from fresh, natural ingredients.
However, if like many people, you have a busy life, you probably don’t have time to cook a meal from scratch three times a day. Some days, things might be so hectic that you have to choose between nuking a processed meal in the microwave or not eating at all.
If you’re used to eating processed food all the time, try having a freshly prepared, clean, unprocessed meal once a week. It won’t take too much of your time. You’ll love how it tastes, and you’ll be doing your body a favor.
Dietary fibre, whole grains, and risk of colorectal cancer: systematic review and dose-response analysis of prospective studies, British Medical Journal