A lot of people struggle with the concept of moving towards a healthy lifestyle. In many of these cases, it’s easy to see why. The end goal seems impossible, and there are far too many things you need to change before getting anywhere near it. However, this is the wrong way to view your journey to a healthier lifestyle.
You need to do things step by step, slowly, over time. Start to make changes to your current lifestyle and swap unhealthy activities with healthier options. It’s these little swaps and trades that will put you on the right path - and all of a sudden, achieving your goals will not seem hard at all.
In today’s guide, I wanted to talk about some of those little changes you can make. Giving things up can be tough - but swapping them for healthier alternatives can help. Read on to find out more - and feel free to leave some of your suggestions in the comments!
Trade ready meals for home cooking
One of the best things you can do for your health is to start cooking meals yourself. Ready meals that you buy from stores are always full of salt, sugars preservatives and are unhealthy as a result. Cooking food yourself means you know exactly how much sugar and salt you are using - or butter and fat, for that matter. It will give you a far greater insight into what you are eating, which is critical to leading a healthier lifestyle.
Switch your large dining plates to smaller ones
If you want to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories - it’s as simple as that. Portion size is often to blame, and even an enormous plate of healthy food can lead to weight increases. So, lose the big dinner plates. Buy smaller ones instead, and only plate enough food to keep your hunger at bay. A standard portion size of pasta, for example, should be about the size of your clenched fist.
Swap forks for chopsticks
When you are hungry, do you find yourself eating quickly? If so, try slowing things down a little. Chewing food for longer tricks your body into thinking it isn’t hungry anymore. And, swapping your knife and fork for a set of chopsticks is a great way to slow things down even more. The slower you eat, the more chance you will feel full by the time you finish your meal. And that means you won’t feel like having a second helping or could try and skip your pudding.
Swap white bread for rye bread
White bread has a few nutrients, but it is also full of sugar and calories, So much so, in fact, that you are better off not eating it at all. However, if you are a bread lover, replacing your standard white loaf with rye bread is a much better option. There is a lot more fiber in rye bread, meaning you will feel full after eating less. There are fewer calories in rye, too, meaning you could lose a little weight just by making this simple trade.
Trade sodas for juices
Be honest - how many cans of soda are you drinking every day? You shouldn’t need me to tell you that colas, lemonades and soft drinks are packed full of sugar and empty calories. Find yourself a good juicer to start making your own drinks. Which is best? There are plenty of options out there, so take a look around and see what you can find. healthybutsmart.com recently published a review of the Breville 800JEXL, for example. There are hundreds of other options out there, too. One thing to bear in mind with juicing is that you should always include veggies, rather than just using fruits. There is a lot of sugar in fruit juice, so balancing it out with healthier vegetables is going to help you get healthier.
Stop throwing out juice pulp and use it in cooking instead
One more point about juicing: when you juice you remove all the fiber in the pulp. This is an imperative part of your nutrition, and drinking juices alone might not be as healthy as you think. To balance things out, start using the pulp that remains after juicing in your cooking. This way, you will get the full health benefit of all the fruit and vegetables you are using.
Lattes for black coffee
Who loves picking up a latte on your way to work each morning? If that sounds familiar, making a little change is going to help you consume fewer calories. Lattes are packed full of milk, which, as everyone knows, is full to the brim with fat. Even skinny lattes are calorie-rich, so don’t think you can swap your regular latte with one of these. There can be up to 300 calories in a latte. If you are drinking 2-3 a day, you can see how easy it can be to shift some weight by eliminating them from your diet. However, making the switch to a simple Americano or black coffee each day will reduce your calorie intake by a considerable amount.
Swap cereal for eggs
Do you enjoy chowing down on cereal in the morning? Most people do, as it fills them up. However, swapping your cereal for eggs is a lot more beneficial. First of all, it gives you a massive protein boost, which will help you burn off fat during the day. It also fills you up for longer than any carbohydrate will. Other trade-in ideas include cooked ham, smoked salmon or Greek yogurt. Speaking of which…
A lot of people out there eat low-fat yogurt because they feel they will lose weight. However, what low-fat yogurts lack in fat, they make up for in sugar. You are far better off eating Greek yogurt instead. It is full of protein, and mixed with fresh fruit in the morning makes a delicious start to the day. You can use Greek yogurt as a replacement for many other things, too. For example, the sour cream you use in your burritos is packed with fat, so going Greek will save you a lot of calories.
Popcorn for chips
Chips are full of grease and are incredibly unhealthy. And, let’s not beat around the bush - they can be expensive, too. Swap your chips for popcorn, however, and it’s a different story. Pop your own corn and you can stuff your face with three huge bags at the cost of only 100 calories. As long as you avoid the sugar or salted popcorn, it is a much healthier snack than a bag of potato chips.
Trade store bought salad dressings for DIY alternatives
We’ve all been through the process of creating a beautiful, healthy salad, only to wreck the health benefits in a single second. How? Just by slavering salad dressing all over it. Store bought dressings are packed full of sugar. The creamy dressings like ranch or Caesar are also full of fat - 250 calories in each portion. But it is so easy to create your own alternatives. Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a hint of mustard - it’s all you need to make a tasty - and healthy - salad dressing.
Stuffed crust to thin crust
We all love a treat every now and again, and, once in a while, there is no harm in calling up your local pizza delivery company and placing an order. But, the next time you call, think about going for a thin crust pizza instead. The more bread in your pizza, the more calories there are, and if you enjoy a stuffed crust, it can get even worse. A stuffed crust pizza can contain as much as 3,000 calories - way more than the average daily calorie limit.
Trade cookies for dark chocolate
Cookies and chocolate bars are full of sugar and fat. Everyone knows it, yet we all love them and eat them whenever we get the opportunity! However, swapping them for a couple of squares of high-quality dark chocolate can save you a whole bunch of calories. Look for a brand made from a minimum of 70% cocoa to enjoy the full benefits. It’s a much healthier alternative to cookies or chocolate bars, and it will give you a little perk up in the late afternoons.
Trade your energy drink for a power nap
Are you a fan of energy drinks? While they can give you an enormous boost from the caffeine and sugar, they aren’t healthy at all. So, the next time you are going through your mid-afternoon dip, don’t go to the vending machine. Instead, find a quiet place and take a 10-minute power nap. You will wake up refreshed and full of energy, and will have no calorie penalty to pay at all!
Trade grocery shopping before meals for grocery shopping after meals
Finally, you should never go shopping on an empty stomach. Statistics suggest that you will come home with a more unhealthy - and expensive - shopping bag. So, eat a meal before you go shopping at your local grocery store. Not only will you save on calories, but you will also be better off regarding money.