What’s the biggest barrier the every-day person faces when it comes to making the right food choices? It’s the fact that we’re the everyday person. Money is tight. A lot of us are busy…and really freaking tired.
I’ve been practicing cleaner cooking and eating since I was a sophomore in high school, but since making the transition into adult life, it has become significantly harder. But in between days of fast-food binges and days where my only “meal” is coffee, I’ve learned quite a lot. Here are my five no-bullshit tips for a healthier diet.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nutritionist, or dietician. The following advice is a combination of both common facts and my personal opinions. These no-bullshit tips for a healthier diet is what works for me. Please consider your own dietary needs.
1. Identify your weaknesses when it comes to food
Let’s call this the food vice. We all have one. Mine is sugar. I have a strong ass sweet tooth. It’s what inspired me to start this blog in the first place, with the initial intention to share my dessert recipes with the world. But it’s common knowledge that eating excess sugar is one of the worst ways to damage your body.
Maybe your vice is salt. Or butter. Or spicy hot Cheetos. But you most likely know what it is. Now, it’s time to slowly reduce the amount of that thing that you can’t get enough of.
Notice, I said slowly.
I keep my sweet tooth in check by allowing myself to have only one or two sweet things a day. And, no, that doesn’t mean a whole chocolate cake counts as that sweet thing. It has to be something small, like a fun-sized Kit Kat or a short latte from Starbucks. Allow yourself to mindfully eat only small amounts of your food vice.
2. Make water your drink of choice
Listen: soda is the devil. So is beer. And commercial fruit juices are the devil’s little minions.
If there’s one piece of health advice you’ll hear over and over and over again, it’s to drink plenty of water. Every single day. Until you die. It’s a huge commitment that will literally benefit every single aspect of your body.
Hate water and think tastes boring? I get it; when I was a preteen I’d have less than one glass of water a day, I lived on fruit juice alone. I seriously wonder how my body did not just shut down!
My advice is to start slowly. Make water the first beverage you have in the morning (yes, even before your coffee). Replace your daily soda/juice with a glass of water. Get a giant water bottle and try to finish it every day. If you have a competitive spirit, do a water-drinking challenge with friends or coworkers. It will be difficult to adjust to at first, but, over time, it will become a habit. A great habit.
3. Set limits for fast-food consumption
My personal rule: fast food only once a month. Before, it was once a week, but I challenged myself to reduce my fast food consumption even more.
The problem with fast food is not just that it’s addictive and delicious, it’s that it’s convenient. There’s probably a burger joint within 5 miles of where you work. Don’t have lunch one day? That fast food place across the street’s got you covered.
You probably know just how shitty these processed meals are for your body, but you probably also have no intentions of giving up Chick-Fil-A sandwiches. That’s cool, because everything in moderation. Think you’re eating too much fast food? Challenge yourself to eat a maximum of one fast food meal a week. Instead of making it an everyday thing, make it a reward or a pick-me-up on a bad day.
4. Seek out healthier frozen meals
We all have days when we’re too lazy or tired to cook. On a day like this, I like to fall back on a healthy frozen dinner. Well, as healthy as frozen dinners can get.
My brand of choice is EVOL. Their meals don’t have that gross, half-cooked, super processed taste that a lot of other frozen dinners have. My favorite from their line is the butternut squash curry bowl. If you’re trying to eat cleaner but you’re not a fan of cooking, I suggest stocking up on some healthy frozen dinners. Seek out meals with less than 800 milligrams (mg) of sodium and 25 milligrams of fat. Watch the sugar amounts, as well.
5. Don’t punish yourself for falling off track
Ever went on a food binge and afterwards thought “I don’t deserve to eat ever again?” Been there, done that. Not worth it.
There a lot of things that trigger unhealthy food binges: breakups, premenstrual syndrome, late nights out with friends. It happens, and sometimes it’s unavoidable. But don’t punish your body by starving yourself after a binge.
The best way to recover from one? Do some light exercise, drink water, get rest, and practice some good ‘ol classic self love.
Aaaaand there they are. Five no-bullshit tips for a healthier diet. If eating cleaner is something you’re serious about, start right here.