By Jaimi Jansen
Healthy eating doesn’t need to be difficult – in fact, the simpler you make it the more likely you are to stick with it! Often times it is the complexity and restrictions of self-imposed diets that make them so hard to maintain.
When thinking of healthy eating choices, try to think of foods you enjoy and reexamine their nutritional values. If the food is good for you and you enjoy it then you’ll have an easier time sticking to it. It is also important to remember that healthy eating is achieved through building healthy eating habits, so you must work on finding food that you’ll enjoy frequenting. Here are some easy tips that can help you to incorporate healthier eating habits into your busy lifestyle:
Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach (or without a shopping list!). Appetite is a powerful force that can drive you into making unhealthy choices while shopping. When in an empty stomach, you are very sensitive to the concept of food, seeing it can trigger salivation as we have been conditioning ourselves to do so every time we eat. Cells lining the stomach release a hormone called gastrin when it is empty which in turn rises the amount of acid in the stomach and causes it to turn.
This response is aggravated by the scent of food, so even the smell of foods at the grocery are likely to have a deep influence in your shopping choices. Going grocery shopping hungry will help you give into temptation. Also, if you go into your shopping trip with a clear focus on what you need, you will be less likely to impulsively grab unhealthy items. This is why it is a good idea to have a premade list of foods you have decided will be part of your eating routine.
Snack Often: Snacking is often the guilty pleasure that makes most everyone break. But snacking is not bad, you just have to make your snacks work for you and moderation. One way of making your snacks more filling is to have the right balance of fat, protein and carbs. For instance, eating a slice of whole grain bread topped with avocado and a hard boiled egg provides with you with enough fat, protein and carbs to keep you going until your next meal. When picking snacks, it is important to pay attention to the sugar content of your snack as this can have repercussions.
Sugar has been found to have addictive properties as it leads to a dopamine release in areas of the brain that are in close proximity to areas associated with addiction. Excessive sugar consumption can even lead to loss in sensitivity in dopamine receptors which leaves you craving more and more sugar in hopes of reaching a dopamine high. Fruits and berries are better sources of sugar as opposed to other snacks. They are much more than delicious, as they provide you with filling fiber, natural sugars, vitamin C and other antioxidants.
Remember to always be prepared for unexpected temptations. Don’t let yourself get hungry to the point of being ravenous, because you will be more likely to reach for convenience foods. Instead, be sure to eat three full meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and carry healthy snacks such as nuts or fruit with you to help keep your energy up until your next meal. Healthy snacking between meals keeps your metabolism going so your will feel more energized and will have the raw material to build more muscle as your carry on your daily tasks.