The thought of beginning a healthy lifestyle with clean foods can seem impossible, especially if you have picky eaters at your table. However, it is not as hard as you think. There are ways to clean up your diet even if the list of foods that you agree to eat is short. Here are a six tips to change your eating habits for the better.
TIP 1: CLEAN UP THE FOODS THAT YOU DO LIKE
Eating healthy does not necessarily mean that you have to cut out all of the foods that you enjoy eating. For example, if you are a meat and potatoes kind of person; try choosing more lean meats and alternative ways of preparing your potatoes. Instead of having fried potatoes choose to toss them in olive oil and bake them; in this way you still get the crispy taste of a fried potato but you are greatly eliminating saturated fats and calories. Lean meat include, but are not limited to, chicken, turkey, venison, and fish. Choosing one of these options also eliminates unwanted saturated fats. While you may not consider some of these options 100% clean, they are better than the alternative, and every small change counts.
TIP 2: PORTION CONTROL
One major problem that often goes unnoticed, is how much food you are actually consuming. Regardless of what you are choosing to eat, everything has calories and the more you eat, the faster those calories add up. If the energy (calories) you are putting into your body are not less than the energy (calories) you are putting out, it results in weight gain. If you are a picky eater and cannot possibly find alternatives that you enjoy, try cutting back on your portion sizes. While this may not be the healthiest option for your body on the inside, it can result in weight loss, which also contributes to your overall health, and like I mentioned earlier, every little change helps.
TIP 3: ALTERNATIVES
There are many alternative options for ingredients in some of your favorite dishes that you can use to make your meals healthier without changing the taste. Next time you are cooking from a recipe, try looking at each individual ingredient and thinking of a healthy substitute. For example, instead of using sour cream, choose plain Greek yogurt. When choosing cheese, look for low fat, white cheeses or dairy free cheese. Olive oil can be used in place of canola or vegetable oil, stevia can be used in place of sugar, and whole grain/whole wheat flour can be used in place of white flour. Try using more natural ingredients to sweeten food instead of sugar such as honey, agave nectar, applesauce, etc.
TIP 4: READ INGREDIENT LISTS
Reading labels can make all the difference in realizing what you are putting into your body. The amount of calories, carbohydrates, fats, protein and fiber is not the only important information on a label. One thing that most people do not know is that the ingredient list goes in order of the amount used in the product. For example, if sugar is listed first on the ingredient list, then there is more sugar than any other ingredient. Sugar also has several different names, so if the first ingredient is corn syrup, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, etc., then surprise, it is loaded with sugar! My general rule of thumb when looking at ingredients is that if sugar, or any other form of sugar, is in the first three ingredients, then you do not need to eat it. If the ingredients are words that you cannot pronounce or contain the letters x, y, or z, then chances are you do not need it. The lower the number of ingredients , the better; and the more whole, more natural ingredients, the better.
TIP 5: CHEATING
There are some days when you just feel like you need a treat. Everyone has those days and that is okay. The problem is that when you allow yourself to have a treat, you have to have enough self control to have one bite, put a period and move on. For example, it is okay to have one bite of cake at a birthday party so that you do not feel like you are depriving yourself, but do not blow your whole healthy eating lifestyle when you have one bite and keep going because you think you have messed up. Do not turn one unhealthy bite into a whole day of unhealthy eating.
TIP 6: FOCUS ON SMALL CHANGES
Converting your diet into a lifestyle is hard to do, especially when you are a picky eater. Changing all your eating habits at once can be detrimental, causing you to give up not long after you start. This is why it is important to ease into cleaning up your diet and make small changes. For example, if you drink four sodas per day, try to reduce it to three and when you master that change, reduce it to two, and keep decreasing the number as you master each change. Once you cut out one unhealthy habit, then choose another to work on eliminating. This is the key to success in long lasting changes.
A healthy lifestyle may be harder to achieve for a picky eater, but it is definitely not impossible. Keep these steps in mind as you begin to make changes. Remember, do not let setbacks discourage you. Start small and keep going. YOU CAN DO IT!!!