We choose to eat things like french fries, hamburgers, and donuts, not because we are unaware that we should be making healthier choices, but because old habits are hard to beat. The road to eating healthier means making changes not just to our food selection, but also to our lifestyle. Both of which require effort, which can be compounded by the need to prepare meals for family members, a hectic work schedule, budget, or lack of time. All of these factors make it less appealing to make the change, especially when we know it’s easier to just stay with the status quo.
The good news is, healthy eating isn’t just black or white in the sense that you either do it or you don’t. There are many small things you can do that will help you make the transition from substandard eating habits to a healthier you. Here are five simple mini-changes you can easily add to your routine:
1. Start your day with lemon and water. While you’re catching your zzz’s, your liver is hard at work all night long clearing your body of harmful toxins. You can help your liver expel the collected toxins from the body by starting your morning with a glass of water (at room temperature) and juice from half a lemon. Do this upon rising and wait 30 minutes before eating breakfast.
2. Keep hydrated throughout the day. You’ve all heard this one before, but it’s worth repeating as so few of us manage to do it. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. But I’m not thirsty, you say? That may be true, but it doesn’t mean that your body isn’t continuously losing water through your skin, wastes and lungs. You need to replenish that water so that all your body systems (like circulation, digestion, respiration) can continue to function at their optimal level.
3. Be picky with your fats and oils. You don’t need to cut fat out of your diet, not if you want to keep living for a while. Fat is essential to our survival. It is used by our bodies in many important functions such as forming cell membranes, protection from degenerative diseases, production of hormones, and to help transport other nutrients (like vitamins). But not all fats are made equal, so be smart and choose the right type to put into your body. Always go for the essential fatty acids, omega-3 and 6, found in sources like cold-water fish, chia seeds, or flax seeds. The monounsaturated fats in avocados, almonds, olive oil and olives are also good for you. But be sure to stay away from polyunsaturated and trans fats, such as those found in margarine, chips and deep-fried foods.
4. Take a multivitamin everyday. Everybody needs vitamins and minerals – no exceptions. It’s not just a fad. These nutrients play an important role in many key functions of the body, such as helping with the formation of tissues, fighting free-radicals to prevent the onset of diseases, and helping to convert carbohydrates, fats and proteins into use-able forms, like energy. So make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals by taking a daily supplement. Chances are, your highly processed foods diet won’t give you any. Look for a high-quality, whole-foods multivitamin that is derived from natural plants, fruits, and vegetables. This will ensure better assimilation of the vitamins into the body. You can find them at your local health food stores.
5. You guessed it, eat fruits and vegetables. Your hectic schedule doesn’t leave you much time to cook, so it’s restaurant meals or take-out dinners that’s the norm, I get that. But it doesn’t mean you can’t try and balance that out with some healthier choices. The easiest way to add fresh, wholesome foods into your diet is to have some raw fruits and vegetables. These guys are packed with nutrients that are vital to cell growth, tissue repair, and the proper functioning of your organs. You know, all the stuff that your body needs to keep you healthy and alive. The best part? Fruits and veggies need no prep time. Just grab them and go. That easy!
If you can fit these simple changes into your daily routine, then you’re off to a good start to taking on some bigger steps towards healthy eating. Think you can do it?
Sources: 1. Haas, Elson M., MD, Staying Healthy with Nutrition, 21st Edition. 2. Rowland, David W., The Nutritional ByPass.