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9 habits for healthy eating

Develop healthy eating habits.
Develop healthy eating habits.
Photo by: PublicDoma

Like many other things in life, healthy eating is a habit that you can develop. Most of what you eat, the foods you like and dislike, in fact, your whole attitude towards food is a habit that you have spent a lifetime developing. If you want to make healthy changes in the way you eat you need to replace the bad habits with better, healthier habits.

Your relationship with food plays a big part in whether or not you will be successful in making lasting changes. Here are 9 things yo can do to develop better eating habits, and to change the way you think about your diet.

Eat mindfully

Many people have developed the really unhealthy practice of eating without paying attention to it. They grab a snack to eat in the car, or break out a bag of chips to munch on while watching TV. Without even realizing it, they've polished off several servings worth of a greasy, salty snack, with very little nutrients.

A better choice is to only eat when you can pay attention to what you are eating. That means making conscious choices about what you are eating, and how much you are eating.

Everything in moderation

If you are relatively healthy you should be able to eat most of the foods you like. However, that doesn't mean you can eat unlimited amounts of that food. A chocolate chip cookie is a nice treat, but 5 or 6 cookies are more than anyone should be eating at one sitting. When it comes to food, more is not better (with the possible exception of green leafy vegetables).

One of the first steps you need to take is to get your portion sizes under control.

One easy step is to use a smaller plate. A normal portion gets lost when placed on an oversized plate. When you use a smaller plate the serving looks bigger, and it's easier to stop yourself from overeating.

Eat when hungry, not for comfort

Most people at some point or other have reached for food for comfort. You're feeling a little down, so you reach for that carton of ice cream. Or you buy that box of popcorn at the movie, not because you're hungry, but just because you always do that when you go to the movies.

You need to remember, the main job of food is to fuel your body. If your sereious about healthy eating you need to get into the habit of eating because your hungry, not as a way to bring you comfort, or to satisfy some other habit.

Stop eating before you're full

Have you ever eaten so much that you're uncomfortable after the meal? Most people have done that at least once, but it's a very unhealthy habit to get into. Your body has a system in place that is designed to tell you when you have had enough to eat. Unfortunately, most people eat so fast that by the time the body signals the brain that it's full, you have already eaten too much.

You need to slow down, and pay attention to the signals your body sends.

Many experts recommend not waiting until you are full to stop eating. They say that the best practice is to stop eating when you are no longer hungry. By the time you feel full, you've already gone too far.

Eat breakfast

Skipping breakfast (or any meal) sets you up for problems the rest of the day. The main problem is that you get hungry part way through the morning. By the time lunch rolls around you have spent half the morning thinking about food. When you finally get around to eating lunch, there's a good chance that you will eat more than you should.

By eating ahealthy breakfast you give your body more energy, and you're not nutrient deprived. it becomes much easier to control what you eat for the remainder of the day.

Remove temptation from your house

Here is a diet tip that works every time: If you don't have access to an unhealthy food, you won't be able to eat it. If you know you have a problem with a food, remove it form your home so you aren't tempted to grab it. If you have a problem with chips, don't keep chips around. if you have to jump in the car and drive to the store very time you have a craving, you're much less likely to give in.

Know the difference between a snack and a treat

A snack and a treat are not the same thing, although many people treat them the same. Just because you read somewhere that between meal snacks are a good thing, it doesn't mean you should grab a slab of chocolate cake every afternoon.

Healthy snacks should be big enough to take the edge off of your hunger, not fill you up. You should also choose snacks that are low in added sugar, and that deliver plenty of nutrients. if possible, go for fruits and vegetables instead of processed snacks.

A treat should be just what the name says it is, a treat. If you eat it on a regular basis, it's not a treat.

Find ways to eat healthy without feeling deprived

Many people still think that healthy foods have less flavor, and that they're less satisfying. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of the recipes that you grew up eating could still be made, but with healthier ingredients. You could still enjoy that peanut butter and jelly sandwich, just use a whole grain bread, freshly ground peanut butter, and a jelly made without high fructose corn syrup.

A quick search online will bring you healthier versions of most any recipe you could want. With a little practice you will soon be able to clean up those recipes on your own.

Eat for health, not for weight loss

Most people that have developed a healthy eating habit don't spend a lot of time counting calories. If you follow the tips above, and start developing healthier eating habits, calories won't be an issue. The reason is, most fresh foods are very nutrient dense, as opposed to processed foods that are more calorie dense.

That means tht when you grab fresh foods, you get a lot of nutrients with a lot less calories. Processed foods, on the other hand, deliver a lot of calories with fewer nutients.

Eating healthy is mainly a matter of developing a healthy attitude about food. If yo look at it as a "diet," and that you are depriving yourself, it becomes much harder to stick with your plan. However, once you start to develop a healthy eating habit, and you start to see an improvement in the way you look and feel, you'll know that it was worth the effort.

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