What comes to mind when you think about a diet? If you’re like most people, the thought of dieting centers around restriction and deprivation. But, do you have to give up your favorite things to adopt a healthy lifestyle?
Some people do well on an out of sight, out of mind approach. Don’t bring it into the house, and you won’t want it. But for some people, severe restriction leads to all-out bingeing down the road.
What if a healthy lifestyle involved adding practices instead of taking things away or relying on extreme deprivation? Here are some practices to add into your life that may help you reach your goals without having to overwhelm yourself with all kinds of rules.
Before we dive in, it should be noted that if your doctor or dietician has you on a specific diet for a condition, you should continue to follow that. These tips are not meant to address any medical conditions.
Add salad greens
Adding 1-2 cups of greens to every meal may help you get vital nutrients while eating fewer empty calories. Dark leafy greens contain fiber to help you feel full, while providing you with vitamins A, C, E and K, along with iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Greens add minimal calories and are a fantastic base for a satisfying meal.
How to do it? Start every plate with a bed of salad greens. You can buy them pre-cut and pre-washed to make it easy.
Bacon and eggs in the morning? Sure, go ahead, as long as they’re alongside a handful of greens.
Salad for lunch? Sure, simply top a big pile of greens with whatever yummy toppings you have on hand.
At dinner, eat what your family eats, along with a large serving of greens.
While greens won’t make up for a daily drive-thru habit, they will add to the nutrient value of your meals and possibly take the place of other foods that aren’t doing you any favors.
Just add water
Some experts claim that a lot of us aren’t sufficiently hydrated, especially among the age 50 and older population.
When you’re hydrated, your digestion is more efficient and you can possibly feel more full instead of mistakenly turning to extra portions of food to satisfy what you didn’t realize was thirst.
The guidelines say to aim for eight glasses of water per day, but you may need more if you’re active or if you live in a dry climate.
Sugar free treats
If you have no sugar versions of your favorite treats at the ready, you’re less likely to crave the version that will set you back.
You can try:
- No Sugar Added Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups when you have chocolate on the brain
- Sugar-free Chocolate Chip Cookies, because sometimes you need a warm cookie right out of the oven
- Sugar-free Blueberry Muffin Mix for a sweet fix in the morning or any time
The key is to be ready so that you never have to deprive yourself.
People have claimed to eat healthier overall as a result of just adding a smoothie to their everyday routine.
Smoothies are a great way to add in colorful fruits or sneak extra veggies into your day. Fiber from the fruits and vegetables can keep you full, and plant-powered nutrients can send signals of nourishment to your cells.
Smoothies can easily take the place of a snack, and possibly prevent you from thinking about the ice cream in your freezer. Or, if you’re creative with ways to add protein and healthy fats to your blender, smoothies could take the place of a meal.
Add a healthy smoothie a day for a week, and see how you feel! Here is a chocolate peanut butter smoothie recipe to get you started.
Convenience foods that you prepared yourself are possibly the number one defense against bad food decisions on the fly.
No, we’re not talking about a sodium-packed frozen dinner or a bag of chips. We’re talking about grab-and-go foods that you’ve prepped ahead of time.
You can get ready for a busy week by cutting a bunch of crudite-style cut veggies with hummus, bake some sugar-free banana bread for the week, and make a bit batch of trail mix using your favorite nuts and dried fruit, portion and freeze a big pot of soup, or you can even make complete meal-prepped and portioned meals that you can heat and eat.
That way, when you’re stressed or you don’t have the time to think things through, you don’t find yourself chowing down on something you’ll regret later.
If diet culture has got you down, don’t sweat it. Instead, flip it in its head and try the opposite approach – adding healthy practices instead of focusing on what’s “not allowed.” You may be surprised at the result!