Developing better and sustainable habits which actually stick is not an easy task. Saying hello to the new year is the best time to revise your eating plan, alongside with your workout routine commitment.
Let's get down to these 10 healthy habits that will last you well beyond 2018.
1. Eat a rainbow
“Every fruit and vegetable has different colors based on the different minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals, and antioxidants it contains,” Brigitte Zeitlin, M.P.H., R.D., C.D.N., founder of the New York-based BZ Nutrition said. The more colors you paint your plate with, the more variation you're getting nutrient-wise.
2. Explore new dishes
“We seem to eat the same foods repeatedly. This limits our nutritional range,” Albers says. “Be adventurous. Try new foods.” You might just discover a new favorite you’ve been missing all this time.
3. Mindful eating
“Mindful eating is paying more attention to how you eat, being more present to make better food choices,” Albers says. It’s “like laying a strong foundation of a house,” she explains. “If you get the mindful eating down, you will have an easier time creating new habits.” Stop eating in front of the TV or computer, put down all distractions, and actually pay attention to what you’re putting on your plate and in your mouth. You’ll feel more satisfied, stop eating when you’re truly full, and ultimately make healthier choices.
4. Eat slower
Pause before taking a bite, and chew slowly and intentionally, Albers suggests. This will help you bring your focus back to the task at hand (eating) and keep you from mindlessly scarfing down more than your body really wants or needs.
5. Find better ways to manage stress
Albers notes that stress eating is a bad habit for so many people. By finding other ways to cope with stress, you’ll slowly stop turning to food for comfort. Whether it’s reading a good book, getting a manicure, cooking, or whatever else helps you blow off some steam and regroup, find something that helps you unload your stress other than food. And if you must.. “Put treats out of sight and off the counter. Put a fruit bowl right on the counter,” Albers suggests. A "mindful makeover" will help prevent cravings and give you a chance to really decide what your body wants and needs.
6. Read ingredient labels
The only way you’ll finally cut back on added sugar or eat less sodium—whatever your specific healthy-eating ambition—is if you know what’s in the food you’re consuming. Packaged foods we buy at the grocery store can have a lot of unnecessary ingredients. Jackie Baumrind, M.S., C.D.N., a dietitian at Selvera Wellness, suggests buying foods with a shorter list so that you’re eating the nutrients that are naturally in foods—a good way to stay within healthy limits of things like fat, carbs, and sugar.
7. Never let yourself become starving
We all know how this goes. We get wrapped up in work, or kids, or whatever else is distracting us, and before you know it, it’s 3 P.M. and you haven’t eaten since 8 A.M. When we’re ravenously hungry, we give into not-so-healthy cravings, or binge on more than we need because our brains are telling us to EAT. By planning out meals and snacks throughout the day, you can prevent this from happening.
8. Stay hydrated
You need to stay hydrated all day every day, not just when it’s hot outside or you’re sweating it out at the gym. “When it’s cold we forget that,” Baumrind says. “Focus on making sure you’re drinking enough water” by employing tricks like keeping a water bottle at your desk or using an app to track how much you're drinking. If you drink lots of sugary drinks, try swapping them for unsweetened seltzer water (if the bubbles are what you crave) or fruit-infused water (hey, sugar fiend).
9. Eat your greens first
“I try to get my clients to start with salad or veggies when they sit down for lunch or dinner, and then dig into the rest,” Baumrind says. Taking the time to chew lettuce and veggies “pulls you into the moment so you’re not mindlessly eating,” she explains. Plus, it’s always a good idea to fill up on the most nutritious foods first.
10. Don't beat yourself up over food
Eating should be a positive experience. You're fueling your body and hopefully enjoying the taste while doing so. Want to eat that cookie? Eat that cookie! Love that cookie! Savor it and be glad you did. Focusing too much on eating "right" can become a slippery slope, from paying attention to obsessing. Healthy eating—like so much of life—is all about balance.
Original article published written by Amy Marturanaon for SELF magazine.