The word “diet” has a tainted reputation. A diet can simply refer to the variety of foods a person eats on a regular basis. As a health-food junkie, I prefer to look at diets as either good or not-so-good, healthy or not-so-healthy. A bad diet should not be punished or reprimanded, but instead adjusted and improved. Eating healthy is a very rewarding lifestyle choice, and is much easier to do than most people think. The key is sticking to the fundamentals. Once you know how to eat clean and why you should do so, the road paves itself.
1. Hydrate yourself.
Drinking enough water and drinking often maximizes its effectiveness for the entire body. It is best to drink two to three liters a day. Here are some easy ways to begin increasing water intake:
- Two glasses after waking up helps stimulate internal organs
- One glass 30 minutes before a meal helps digestion
- One glass before taking a shower lowers blood pressure
- One glass before going to bed aids the heart and brain
2. Eat proportionally.
Eat smaller meals. Eating less more often is better for metabolism and the digestive system overall. A small meal every three to four hours keeps your metabolism burning. You feel like you are eating more, but in actuality you are eating less.
3. Veg out and be fruity.
Don’t buy unhealthy foods. Just don’t do it, because you will obviously eat them. Eat fruits and vegetables instead. These are the essentials of a clean, healthy diet. They are full of fiber and antioxidants and they are low-calorie. Plus, they can be blended and baked in a number of ways.
4. Protein, protein, protein.
Protein is a foundation for fit bones, muscles and hormones, as well as healthy blood and skin. Meat, beans, eggs and nuts are excellent sources of protein that should be incorporated into every meal. At least 20 percent of an average person’s diet should consist of protein.
5. Know the healthy fats.
Surprise—some fats are good for you. Fats are vital for healthy skin and hair, insulating organs and maintaining body temperature. The best, healthiest fats to look for can be found in dark chocolate, avocados, olives, coconut oil, organic peanut butter, tree nuts, flax seed, fish and soybeans.
6. Find your go-to ingredients.
Pick at least seven staples to keep stocked at all times in order to always have something to eat that you know you will enjoy—especially when other groceries are sparse.
7. Don’t skip breakfast.
A well-balanced breakfast jumpstarts metabolism and gives the body fuel to start the day. If nothing else, eat a piece of toast and jam. Do not abandon this meal.
8. Avoid soda.
Try to have no more than one soda a week. If you are an avid soda drinker, work to wean it out of your diet slowly. Start by drinking one less soda per week until you are down to the ideal number.
9. Stop frying.
Frying automatically adds an excess of unwanted fats and calories to any food. Steaming, roasting, sautéing and baking are far better ways to cook all types of meals—and generally require less preparation and cleanup.
10. Spice it up a notch.
Rather than layering on sauces, experiment with herbs and spices. These seasonings bring out the natural flavors in foods as opposed to smothering them with different ones. Herbs and spices also contribute to healthy skin and clear sinuses.
11. Leave room for dessert.
For those with a sweet tooth, it is even more crucial to regulate each meal throughout the day. This way, dessert is a delicious reward as opposed to a bowl of guilt.
12. Sleep more.
Sleep is when the body cleanses and purifies itself. A substantial amount of sleep allows the body to perform at its best all day long. Sleep-deprivation signals metabolism to slow down. That “running on empty” feeling is exactly how your body is functioning when you consistently go without rest. So sleep—it’ll help you eat better.