30 Healthy Eating Tips That Might Just Change Your Life
Starting even a few of these healthy eating habits could make a big difference.
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Start meals with soup
Soup is a successful dieter’s secret weapon! A 2014 study found that regular soup eaters have smaller waists and weigh less than people who don’t eat soup. Look for those with low-fat milk or low-sodium broth and add your own veggies for slimming fiber. Check out this list of 33 foods that are way more nutritious than you ever realized!
And end them with bread
People with type 2 diabetes had 30 percent higher peak blood sugar when they ate bread before a meal compared with when they ate it after a meal, according to a small study published in Diabetes Care. Related research has shown that a rapid increase in blood sugar causes hormonal and metabolic changes that promote excessive eating in obese individuals. Eating bread after a meal slows the conversion of refined carbohydrates into sugar and may keep food consumption in check, especially in people with weight problems, insulin resistance, or diabetes. (Don’t miss these 10 effortless ways to eat healthy on vacation.)
Fiber up your breakfast
One of the best healthy eating tips is to start ramping up your fiber intake is breakfast. People who eat high-fiber cereals are 80 percent more likely to achieve their daily fiber target than those who don’t. Add fresh or dried fruits to breakfast cereal and replace white bread with whole-grain varieties. Here are 11 more simple tricks for eating healthy without even trying.
And include PB at breakfast
Forget butter, jelly, or cream cheese. Peanut butter raises the protein quality and quantity when added to bread, producing a highly nutritious and satiating food. Look for low-salt and low-sugar varieties. Make sure you know these easy little tricks to eat less fat without missing it.
Want your kids to start picking baby carrots over cookies? Ask them, “What would Batman eat?” This simple question encourages children to make healthier fast-food choices, according to researchers from Cornell University. When researchers posed the WWBE question, offering children the choice between apple slices or chips, 45 percent chose the apples. Substitute your child’s favorite superhero if Batman doesn’t do the trick.
Get smoothie savvy
When buying a ready-made smoothie, make sure it contains whole fruit, not just juice. Fruit juice has none of the important fiber that you get from fresh fruits. And if you sip juicy smoothies slowly over time, the acidic juice can damage your tooth enamel.
Swap out granola
Granola is often fiber-rich and low on the glycemic index, so it keeps you feeling full for longer. It may also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, B vitamins, iron, and folate from the rolled oats, fruits, nuts, and seeds. On the downside, however, many granolas are packed with sugar and high in saturated fat. Instead, sprinkle nuts, seeds, or dried fruit over your oatmeal and you’ll get the same taste and nutrition as granola while slashing your sugar and fat intake. Don’t miss these 18 simple secrets for making your food healthier.
Order cocktails on the rocks
Warmer drinks are absorbed faster (and therefore get you drunk more quickly) than colder cocktails. Instead of a boozy night cap, try eating one of these 30 guilt-free healthy snack foods.
Steer clear of wrap sandwiches
Substituting a thin-looking wrap for a traditional bread sandwich might seem like a skinnier option, but it’s not. The tortilla alone can sneak in as many as 300 to 400 calories—and that’s not counting the filling! Opt for a sammie made with whole-grain bread (the grainier the better) spread with a little low-fat mayo, then filled with a hard-boiled egg, roast turkey, or chicken, plus a pile of tomatoes, roasted peppers, and dark-green lettuce. Here are 10 more healthy food swaps that you never even thought of before.
Choose dark bottles of olive oil
You can add olive oil to your list of healthy eating tips! This delicious oil is especially high in the key MUFA component oleic acid, which appears to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and combat inflammation. It may also help reduce high blood pressure. Light and heat can make oils go rancid, so dark bottles are best. And buy “extra virgin.” It has the freshest flavor and highest levels of phytonutrients.
Enjoy eggs guilt free
Eggs are such an egg-cellent source of nutrition that they easily qualify as a superfood. A single egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein and 12 different vitamins and minerals, including the antioxidant selenium, vitamins B2 and B12, and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which may reduce the risk of macular degeneration. There is no clear link between eating eggs and the risk of heart disease, as once thought. Most of us no longer need to limit egg consumption, unless advised to do so, as health experts concede that concerns about their effect on cholesterol levels were largely unfounded.
And drink a little OJ with them
The body’s absorption of iron in the eggs is enhanced when you eat them with vitamin C. Similarly, it’s a good idea to squeeze lemon over spinach. Those dark greens are a good source of iron, but for the body to absorb plant forms of the mineral more easily, spinach needs to be paired with vitamin C (hence the shot of lemon).
Food shop with a friend
This way you can get the most of buy-one-get-one-free or similar bargain foods you might waste or eat too much of. Next time you grocery shop, make sure a few of these 50 healthy supermarket foods are on your shopping list.
And eat an apple before you go
At the start of a shopping trip, Cornell researchers randomly gave 120 people a sample of an apple, a cookie, or nothing. Those who received the apple bought 28 percent more fruits and vegetables than those who got a cookie and 25 percent more than those who got no snack.
Splurge on grass-fed meat
What an animal eats determines the kind of fat prevalent in its meat. A 2009 study showed that, compared to cattle bred indoors, pasture-raised, grass-fed beef had lower total saturated fat, more omega-3 fatty acids, a healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 acids, and higher levels of some vitamins. The Environmental Working Group, a consumer watchdog organization, points out that these benefits are in addition to the fact that eating organic or grass-fed beef reduces your exposure to antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides that can accumulate in animal fat.
And cut way, way back on processed meats
One study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who regularly ate processed meats had a 42 percent higher risk of heart disease and a 19 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes. So what should you have in your lunchtime sandwich? If there’s leftover chicken from last night’s dinner, carve it up and place it between two slices of high-fiber, whole-grain bread, with sliced tomato and lettuce. Buy freshly carved meat from the deli counter and choose sliced packaged meats—not those described as “re-formed.”
Pick “live” yogurt
Yogurt is a top source of calcium, protein, and potassium, but its status as a superfood comes down to the probiotic bacteria, which are present in “live” yogurt. These bacteria help maintain the ideal balance of bacteria in the gut and we’re only just beginning to grasp how important this is for health and longevity. Yogurt with live, active cultures is particularly helpful for people with gut disorders, such as constipation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome. Make sure you know these 15 ways to change your bad eating habits in just one day.
And mix it well
That watery stuff sitting on top is whey, and it’s filled with protein, bone-strengthening calcium, vitamin D, and gut-friendly probiotics. When you pour it in the sink, your body misses out.
Hack prepared grocery store meals for healthier suppers
Supermarket prepared meals can help when things get hectic. It’s okay to use them as a base, but you’ll want to incorporate some healthy eating tips like reducing their total salt and fat or adding nutrients like extra steamed broccoli to broccoli and cheese soup, more kidney beans and chopped tomatoes to a ready-made chili, or extra veggie toppings to a pizza, like sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, or artichoke hearts, all served with a large, colorful side salad.
Get clever about leftovers
A traditional roast dinner can generate many further possibilities. At its simplest, leftover roast meat can be used for weekday lunches in sandwiches or salads, reducing the amount of salty processed meat you eat. Or a small amount of chicken can go a long way in a risotto. Once the carcass has been picked clean, it can be simmered with vegetables and aromatics to make stock for soup or to use as a base in another casserole. If you have leftover lamb, you can make a tasty curry or use leftover beef, plus a can of tomatoes and red kidney beans to make a quick chili con carne. Or make meat patties: Blitz the meat in a food processor, dip in egg and breadcrumbs, then brush with a little olive oil and fry on a griddle.
Quit sugary carbonated drinks
In their place, enjoy carbonated water—on its own or with a slice or squeeze of lemon or lime, with a splash of real fruit juice.
Let chopped garlic rest
When the clove is minced or crushed, an enzyme called allinase is released, triggering the formation of disease-fighting compounds. Give it ten to 15 minutes. Cooking the garlic bits too soon can inactivate the enzyme. (These seven mind tricks will help stop your emotional eating in its tracks.)
Slice your own pineapple
It’s more effort, but buying fresh-cut versions at produce stands may shortchange you a little on nutrients. After six days in the fridge, cubed pineapple loses 10 percent of its vitamin C and 25 percent of its carotenoids (antioxidants) when compared with whole fruit sliced the same day it’s eaten, according to research.
Microwaving or baking retains the most nutrients. If you peel and boil the spuds, you lose all the fiber in the skin and about ttwo-thirdsof the vitamin C.
Select your fast food choice before you get there
Commit to ordering that salad in advance of arriving at the drive-thru. “Our research suggests that under stress, the rewarding aspects of an outcome [as in eating a juicy burger] get more attention than the potential negative consequences [as in overloading on salt, fat, and calories],” says Mara Mather, PhD, a professor at the University of Southern California Davis, who researches stress and the decision making process. “Even if you do make the apparently healthy choice, you must beware: If you’re not careful, add-ons and dressings can make salads nearly as fatty and salty as burgers.
Don’t snack on plain celery
You might think you’re being virtuous, but noshing on plain sticks (without a yummy dip like hummus) will leave you unsatisfied and could result in bingeing later on. A satisfying snack produces feelings of satiety and passes slowly through the digestive system. Consider combinations of protein from foods like cheese, eggs, hummus, or peanut butter; fat from nuts or avocados; and complex carbs from whole-grain crackers. Try one of these nine tricks for making your meals a little more Mediterranean.
Bored of tuna fish? Try canned crab
It adds immunity-boosting zinc to your diet. Mix it with some chopped spring onions, a small amount of mayo, and a dab of Dijon mustard.
Reframe junk food
Negative messages about unhealthy food may make you crave it more. In an Arizona State University study, researchers gave dieters either positive or negative messages about sugary snacks. Participants then watched a video while eating cookies. Those who received the negative messages ate 39 percent more cookies than the positive-message group. If you’re trying to diet, think about the pros of healthy food rather than the cons of junk food.
Guys, watch yourself when you dine in mixed company
Men may overindulge when they eat with ladies, partly to impress the fairer sex. Cornell University researchers observed adults at an all-you-can-eat Italian buffet for two weeks, recording how much pizza and salad each ate. Men with at least one woman ate 93 percent more salad than men with other men. (The amount that women ate didn’t differ based on their companions’ gender). If you don’t want to sacrifice your friends for the sake of healthy eating, you could also train your brain to hate junk food using these 10 simple tricks.
Get More Healthy Eating Tips and Tricks!
The Reader’s Digest Quintessential Guide to Healthy Eating is filled with the latest nutrition advice to help you make healthier choices, cut through nutrition controversies (Is red meat that bad? What’s the deal with GMOs?), and lose weight while eating well. Learn more and buy the book here.