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The reality is that there's no need to cut whole food groups or deny yourself the pleasure of eating. On the contrary, limiting your nutritional intake will only make you feel tired, lethargic and lacking any willpower to make sensible food choices.
The key to success lies in developing healthy eating habits that will not only help you reach your goals, but will also leave you feeling full and with plenty of energy to do everything you want to do.Healthy eating habits are all about putting changes in place that are sustainable in the long term.
Here are a few eating habits which, once you've made them part of your routine, will have you set up for life.
1. Eat Healthy Unprocessed Food
Many of the packaged foods we buy today are aimed at convenience and involve the minimum of preparation time on our part - but they're not that healthy. They often contain high amounts of preservatives, man-made colourings and other added chemicals, and as 12WBT dietitian Georgie Moore explains, there are other downsides. "Packaged foods tend to be higher in fat, salt and sugar than food cooked from scratch, while lacking nutrients and fibre," she says. Get into the habit of preparing meals from unprocessed foods and you will reap the health benefits. This means cooking with fresh vegetables, lean meat, eggs and milk and eating plenty of fruit, nuts and legumes.
2. Eat Breakfast
This one common characteristic is nearly universal in statistical studies of people who have achieved and maintained a large weight loss. Eighty percent of those who have been able to maintain a weight loss of at least 30 pounds for at least a year report that they always eat breakfast. Research has consistently shown that the people who successfully lose weight are the ones that wake up and eat! Furthermore, people who eat breakfast regularly have better vitamin and mineral status and eat fewer calories from fat. Experts agree that the majority of people who struggle with overeating are those who undereat during the first part of the day, specifically those who skip breakfast. So it seems that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day!
Why does eating breakfast help people lose and ultimately maintain a healthier weight? One theory suggests that eating a healthy breakfast reduces hunger throughout the rest of the day, therefore decreasing the likelihood of overeating and making poor food choices at lunch.
3. Drink Water
Not soda. Not iced tea. Just plain old water. This is the biggie. Drinking enough water is a vital part of any conditioning program because it keeps your body functioning in homeostasis and aids every aspect of bodily function. Highly successful fit people drink at least six to eight 12-ounce glasses of water a day, plus more as needed during exercise. Note: It's possible to drink too much water, which dilutes the body's electrolytes (potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium). Don't drink more than a gallon a day unless you're also replenishing your electrolytes.
4. Switch to Healthy Whole Grains
Whole grains offer far more nutrients and fibre than their refined "white" varieties. "Whole grains tend to have a lower GI (glycaemic index), so they help keep you feeling fuller for longer and maintain your energy levels and concentration," Georgie says. On the taste side, whole grains have more texture, flavour and nuttiness than refined ones. And in the supermarket, buy brown rice instead of white, and wholegrain pasta. Adding whole grains such as quinoa and buckwheat to salads and other meals will add a heap of nutrients.
You can find these in a health food store or the health food aisle of your supermarket.
5. Eat Healthy Portion Sizes
In today's supersized world, it can be hard to know what a healthy portion looks like. All the advertising we see seems to be aimed at encouraging us to eat and drink a lot.Plate sizes in restaurants get bigger and bigger, as do the servings themselves. So it's little wonder that many of us consume more than we need on a daily basis, as our eating habits have changed without us even realising it. "For the ideal lunch, a quarter of the plate would be taken up by lean protein, another quarter would be filled with low-GI or wholegrain carbs, and the remaining half would be filled with salad or vegetables."
For dinner, eat a little less than at lunch.
6. Healthy Eating at Social Events
For most of us, it's impossible to avoid work gatherings or birthday bashes, where lots of food and alcohol are on offer, and the next day we're wracked with remorse if we've over-indulged. Set up some healthy eating habits for these situations to stay on track.
7. They Close the Kitchen after Dinner
Successfully fit people eat their final meal at a reasonable hour, as opposed to eating dinner followed by a lavish 10:00 p.m. snack and another dessert. Most often they go to sleep, not hungry, but on an empty stomach. This allows them to wake up feeling thin, rested, and hungry for breakfast. It may take a little effort, but going to bed earlier and going to sleep without food awaiting digestion in your stomach keeps your body’s metabolism in a fat-burning state. Instead of digesting, which causes restless sleep, your body can focus on other things—like repairing cells!
8. They're Resourceful and Politely Picky at Restaurants
Successfully fit people find healthful alternatives to selections on any menu, from a five-star restaurant's to Wendy's. They know that it's the food choices, not necessarily the restaurant choices, that help them to stay slim and healthy. They generally steer clear of fried meat, poultry, and fish. Instead, they order their protein broiled, steamed, stir-fried, or poached. They also speak up in restaurants, politely making special requests like asking that their dish be prepared with little or no butter or sauces and with dressings on the side.
9. Treats Can be Healthy Too!
We often think of certain foods as "bad" and cut them out altogether.However, this can set us up for failure because we end up craving them all the more and then bingeing.
This is the time to eat something you may have otherwise kept out of your healthy eating plan. And don't feel guilty about it!
10. A Food Diary Will Help Your Healthy Eating Habits
Keeping a diary of everything you eat and drink throughout the day will give you a clear picture of how much you're consuming and how healthy it is.It's not until we write everything down that we can see where to improve.
Check out this story on how to keep a food diary.
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