The Steps To A Sustainable, Healthier Lifestyle
When it comes to a healthy eating lifestyle – everyone seems to have an opinion. This overflow of information might leave you feeling overwhelmed and having no clue as to where to start. In the following article we’ll show you how to take the first few steps to a healthier lifestyle without straying too far from your comfort zone.
Healthy living is easier said than done. Two days into a diet and most of us find ourselves nibbling on sweets, chips and other processed snacks. Despite what various fad diet programmes like to claim, healthy eating is a change of lifestyle and not a simple quick fix. With the right mind-set, a good daily routine and enough information about dieting – you’re far more likely to achieve your long-term body goals and keep a healthy relationship with food as well.
Food scientist Steven Witherly says that there are two determining factors that affect our relationship with food. Firstly there’s orosensation, which refers to the sensation of what food tastes, smells and feels like when you eat it. Basically, your brain learns to associate a certain food or drink with an emotion. A good example of this is when you uncap a fizzy drink. That hissing sound it emits can provoke a relaxing, satisfied sensation. Secondly, there’s product optimization which occurs during processing. This is the most dangerous factor because it is through this process that foods are filled with addictive elements.
Food manufacturers spend large amounts of money strengthening these two factors that are known to increase your likelihood of purchasing their products. Yes, this can make the journey into healthy eating a lot harder – but if you’re following the right steps, you should be able to breeze through the transition. Here are seven tips we recommend:
1. Mental preparation
You need to be conscious of how open you are to change. One of the reasons as to why people fail to follow-through with their diets, is because they do not properly prepare themselves for the change. Your outlook on the situation is actually very important. You’re not punishing your body for the foods it has consumed; you are introducing it to a better, healthier way of living.
Secondly, our eating habits can be influenced by external factors – stress being the main example. By finding alternative ways of dealing with stress and other emotions, you can help sever the link between your emotions and food.
2. Stop with the fad diets
Fad diets are weight-loss plans that promise quick and great results. In reality, these diets have the potential to be harmful to your health, and don’t actually have long-lasting effects. These types of diets usually ask you to completely remove a food group from your diet, and sometimes even claim that exercise doesn’t need to be part of your regime. Something I suggest you look out for are diets that are promoted by celebrities with no medical or nutritional qualifications – most of those are fad diets too.
3. Make small changes for a healthier lifestyle
One of the main reasons why fad diets fail is because they ask you to make a big change in a matter of days. Although a drastic change can potentially generate better results, the risk of failure is higher as the change is rarely sustainable. Rather start with small changes, and find healthier lifestyle alternatives to your favourite fast foods so that you don’t have to give up what you enjoy. When it comes to meat, try to remember that vegetarian doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. If you’re a fan of burgers, try to avoid synthetic veggie patties served on white bread. Instead opt for a pure, grass-fed, organic beef burger that’s flame-grilled and served with fresh toppings. Before you know it a small change will become a habit, and eventually become part of your lifestyle. It won’t be easy all the time, so don’t feel bad if you misstep every now and then. It’s important to find a pace that works best for you and take it from there.
Some healthy eating alternatives we suggest include:
- Plain yogurt with fresh fruit instead of flavored yogurt- Pre-flavored yogurts are packed with extra, artificial sugars. To avoid the extra sugars but keep the taste, add fresh fruit or honey to plain yogurt. Click here for a great yoghurt recipe.
- Herbs, citrus juice or garlic powder for salt- To avoid excess sodium intake, use fresh herbs, citrus juice and garlic powder to flavour your foods.
- Brown rice over white rice- When rice is processed, the outermost layer of the grain is removed and this leaves brown rice. In order to produce white rice, the next bran layers are then stripped away and this cuts out essential nutrients like fibre. Opt for brown rice for a healthier meal.
4. Menu planning ahead
Planning what you’re going to eat ahead of time by creating a weekly menu can keep you from ordering in at the last minute when you get home to an empty fridge.” A menu plan can also help you keep track of what groceries you need to buy and avoid wastage.
5. Meal Time
Learning to be conscious of portion control is another step towards healthier eating and an overall healthier lifestyle. According to Dr Brian Wansink and Dr Koert van Ittersum of The Perils of Large Plates: Waist, Waste, and Wallet study, eating food off smaller plates as oppose to bigger ones can trick the brain into feeling satiated much faster.
6. Pace your Eating
Cara Stewart is a registered dietician. In her Penn Metabolic and Bariatric News article she stated that your brain needs about 20 minutes before your digestive system tells it you’re full, which is why rushing through a meal can result in overeating. A good piece of advice is to take a sip of water between bites, chew properly and speak to whoever is around you, so that you lengthen the time spent eating.
7. Say no to temptation
Most people usually eat what’s easy and close by – so surround yourself with healthy food and avoid storing your bag or filling up your house with unhealthy snacks. A good idea is to try carrying packed lunches to work and keep processed foods far from your peripheral vision. We know it’s not easy to say no to a treat – but if it’s out of sight; it’s out of mind. The right mindset is the biggest element you need to include into your healthier lifestyle – without it, you won’t really experience a difference.
As simple as these steps are, nothing will change until you take the first one. So just start with step one – embarking on this journey for a healthier lifestyle is an accomplishment in itself. And once you’ve begun, you’ll probably find the rest of the steps a lot easier to follow.