1) Choose portion control.
You can use the plate method or MyPlate as a guide. Choose a variety of foods from different food groups to make a healthy meal plan. Try to choose at least 3 different food groups at a meal. Fill half your plate with fruits and non-starchy vegetables, or fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables. This provides you with many micronutrients (i.e. vitamins and minerals) and fiber to help make you feel full.
If you have a history of overeating, start by measuring your food and eating age-appropriate portions. If you struggle with disordered eating, please see a registered dietitian (RD), a medical doctor (MD), and a licensed counselor. This team can help you overcome eating issues and help you live a healthy lifestyle.
2) Record what you're eating.
To change, you need to know where you are starting. Then, you can make progress from where you are to where your goals are. So, measure your portions (see number 1) and write them down. You can write in a journal or use a free app like MyFitness Pal.
Note: This is usually a very eye opening activity. So, make sure you are accurately recording everything that goes into your mouth. I recommend starting with one week, so you can get a more accurate picture than one day.
3) Make healthy switches.
Think of your favorite food. If you enjoy it, consider eating it. If you aren't craving it, consider making a healthy switch. Some people refer to this as the 80/20 rule. This is where you make healthy choices 80% of the time. Then, you can make more indulgent choices about 20% of the time.
For example, I love mayonnaise. It would fall into the 20% category. Or, I can make a healthier change and substitute avocado, light mayonnaise, hummus, or olive oil for mayonnaise and those choices would fall into the 80%.
If you have a sweet tooth, try switching your dessert, like ice cream, for a healthier alternative. Try fruit, yogurt, or a parfait as a healthier sweet option.
These small changes from healthy choice number 3 will produce changes when we are consistent over time. I am a big believer on making small, doable changes that produce big results over time. I refer to this as small changes, big results. Try it!
5) Choose healthy beverages.
I find that most people are unaware of how many calories are in some beverage choices.
I refer to these calories as empty, sneaky calories. We don't know they're there (sneaky calories). These calories do not fill us up or provide many nutrients (empty calories).
So, I would encourage you to make healthy beverage switches.
For example, let's start with your morning coffee. Do you drink your coffee black? If not, it can be a source of sneaky, empty calories.
If you are getting a large (24 ounce) frozen, ice-cream-like caramel coffee drink, it will "cost" you over 500 calories, 10 grams of saturated fat, and 85 grams of sugar! This is because these drinks are made with whole milk, added flavors from sugary syrups, and topped with whipped cream. Let's see how we can lighten this drink.
If you ask for skim milk, you save 50 calories and 2 grams of saturated fat.
By saying 2-5 extra words "skim milk, no whipped cream" when you order your favorite coffee drink, you can see how these small changes add up. These are simple, small changes with big results!
6) Bonus Tip: Be physically active.
Wet talked about a healthy balance when eating. We also need a balance of healthy eating a physical activity to maintain a healthy lifestyle and prevent diseases. When we make healthy eating choices, we fuel our bodies in a healthy way. When we are physically active, we build endurance and strength. It's all about balance.
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Please note, I am a registered dietitian; not your personal dietitian. Please use these tips as general guidelines and inspiration for a healthy lifestyle. Please see you personal dietitian for specific nutrition advice. Check with your doctor before beginning physical activity.