10 Simple Tips To Improve Your Eating Habits
1. Hydrate Your Body
Your body needs water to help carry nutrients to all the different cells and to help your kidneys and liver flush out waste products. Water also helps with your body temperature regulation and protecting your joints and organs. Drinking cold water in winter often isn't appealing - so your fluid intake may decline in the cooler months. But, with the weather warming arriving it's a great time to reassess your fluid intake.
Aim to drink around six to eight glasses of fluid a day - water is best, but other liquids like milk, tea, coffee and juice can supplement this (read more about hydrating your body). Start right now, walk to the tap or water cooler and get a glass of water to drink. Plus, drinking a glass or two of water 30-60 minutes before main meals may reduce your food intake - great for weight loss or weight maintenance!
2. Eat Five Plus A Day
Fruit and vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, essential minerals, fibre and lots of antioxidants (read more about vitamins and minerals). Eating fruit and vegetables doesn't need to be complicated - just eat more of anything you enjoy! Choose fresh, frozen or tinned varieties to increase your daily intake - tinned fruit on your breakfast muesli, fresh salads for lunch, frozen veges with a quick weeknight dinner, a fruit smoothie containing banana and berry fruits for a delicious snack. If you don't like what's in season and can afford to buy out-of-season fruits and vegetables then go for it - what counts is not what's in your fruit bowl, but what you eat! And the great news is that one glass of fruit juice or vegetable juice can also count towards your target of 5+ servings a day. Just find a way to enjoy your fruit and vegetables and go for it.
3. Give Your Pantry A Quick Makeover
Open your pantry doors - what's the first item of food you see? What you see is what you eat! Now is the time for a quick pantry makeover by: a) hiding treats in sealed boxes on the top shelf and b) putting healthy snacks in clear containers at eye-level or a level that your family can easily reach. And if you have junk food you don't really like, but have accumulated somehow, now is the time to ditch it. It's okay to keep treat foods for special occasions, we're just talking about ditching junk food that has little appeal.
4. Flush Out The Fridge
Throw open your fridge door and again check what catches your eye first - is it something healthy or a treat food? The same principle applies here, it's time for a quick fridge makeover: hide the treat foods at the back of the fridge (or in a garage fridge) and place the healthy food choices like fruits, vegetables, milk, low-fat cheese, yoghurt and leftovers from last night's dinner in easily accessible places near the front of your fridge.
5. Create a Meal Plan
Half the difficulty of eating healthily is trying to decide what to eat! Save yourself time in the long run and create a weekly meal plan. List dinner ideas for Monday to Sunday, then buy the ingredients in your weekly shop. You can also plan work and school lunches if you're feeling extra inspired - that'll remove the weekday morning hassles. You don't need new ideas every week, recycle your favourite lunch and dinner ideas from week to week and include just enough variety to make the next week's meal plan enjoyable but not a hassle for you to prepare.
6. Stock up On Healthy Snacks
Sit down with your household for 10 minutes and write a list of healthy snack ideas. Check out our healthy snacks for inspiration. Great examples are fresh and tinned fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, low-fat crackers, yoghurt, low-fat cheeses, different types of breads and rolls. Then armed with your list pay a visit to a decent sized supermarket and load up with healthy snacks.
7. Small Change Equals Big Results
Think about your normal eating habits and find one small thing you can change to improve your eating tomorrow. Examples are: having one teaspoon of sugar in your daily coffee instead of two; using trim milk with your breakfast cereal instead of full fat milk; forgoing the mayonnaise on your sandwich; halving the amount of butter or margarine you put on your toast; buying a small latte rather than a large cup. These are all little changes that require only a little effort from you, but over the course of the year these types of little changes can add up to big results with minimal effort.
8. Reassess Your Caffeine Habit
Coffee and other caffeinated drinks can be an enjoyable part of our diet. Caffeine consumption becomes a problem when it's emptying our purse or affecting how we feel - headaches, disrupted sleep, irritability or restlessness are all examples. Consider swapping some of your regular caffeinated drinks for de-caffeinated coffees or herbal tea. A box of herbal tea can easily be popped into your office desk drawer and provide a tasty mid-afternoon pickup along with your favourite fruit.
9. Downsize Your Meals
Portion sizes can be terribly misleading - but just because the crackers come in a big packet or the pasta is served in a huge bowl, doesn't mean you have to eat it all. Be portion-size savvy. Downsize your plates at home - bigger is not better, smaller is smarter when it comes to crockery, glasses and even serving utensils. Using smaller plates, glasses and utensils will encourage you to eat less. And if you buy foods in bulk packets ensure you repackage them into smaller containers as soon as you get home.
10. Eat Out Healthily
Food is one of the great pleasures in life! And dining out is an experience we should enjoy, but sometimes it can be difficult trying to find healthy meals. The key is to frequent restaurants that have a good selection of healthy options available. Make these venues your 'regular' option. It'll remove much of the stress that eating out can cause.