A balanced diet is the key to mental and physical health. Whether you want to slim down, build muscle, and eat healthier, it’s important to choose whole, natural foods. Diets come and go, but good nutrition can add years to your life and ward off diseases. Don’t worry – it’s no need to change your eating habits overnight. Start with small steps, such as cutting back on sugar, drinking more water, and cooking your own meals.
Here are five simple ways to improve your diet and eat clean:
Cut Back on Processed Foods
Heavily processed foods, such as potato chips, deli meats, pastries, and pizza, are high in sugar and trans- fats. They also contain additives, preservatives, and flavor enhancers that mess up your hormones and affect overall health. Over time, they increase your risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and even cancer.
Your diet should consist of fruit, vegetables, fish, lean meat, raw nuts, and seeds. Choose local and seasonal produce as often as possible. Read the nutrition labels on foods to make sure there are no harmful chemicals. Avoid any product that has white flour, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, margarine, or hydrogenated oil listed among the first ingredients.
Avoid hidden sugars, such as dextrose, fructose, molasses, agave syrup, and fruit juice concentrate. Be aware that artificial sweeteners are just as bad as sugar. Ideally, use stevia or other natural sweetener for extra flavor.
Cook Your Own Meals
Most restaurants and pubs use trans-fats and sugar to enhance food flavor. They also offer oversized portions, which makes it hard to track your daily calories. When dining out, you can never know what goes onto your plate.
To stay fit and healthy, cook your own meals at home. Use natural ingredients, such as almond flour, whole grains, leafy green vegetables, fresh fruit, and lean cuts of meat. If you’re short on time, use a service like HamptonCreek to order healthy meals and snacks. This company offers classic chocolate cookies, peanut butter cookies, salad dressings, and other nutritious treats with no preservatives or GMOs.
Watch Your Portions
How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Nuts, seeds, olive oil, and other healthy foods are high in calories. If you eat too much, you’ll end up gaining weight. For example, a single serving of almonds has over 200 calories. Most people can easily eat two or three servings at once, so the calories add up.
Use a food scale to track your portions. Switch to smaller plates and fill them with low calorie foods like spinach, kale, cabbage, broccoli, and fish. High-sugar fruits, nuts, and vegetable oils should be consumed in moderation.
Get More Protein
Make sure your diet is high in protein and low in simple carbs. Protein supports muscle growth, keeps hunger at bay, and promotes the formation of new cells and tissues. It also takes more energy to digest compared to fats and carbs, so it increases metabolic rate.
Active individuals have higher protein requirements. If you exercise regularly, get at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight. Fill your plate with chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna, lean beef, eggs, low fat cheese, and vegetables.
Avoid Empty Calories
Soft drinks, cocktails, cake, jelly, and other highly processed foods contain nothing but empty calories. These products make you fat and sick. For instance, most cocktails boast about 500 calories per serving and have no nutrients. When you go shopping for groceries, choose foods and beverages that are rich in protein, essential fats, or complex carbs. Don’t waste your hard-earned money on products that ruin your health.