A lot of us struggle to maintain a healthy weight, constantly trying dozens of diets that only make us miserable, because they often include diet programs that prevent us from eating lots of things that we love.
However, eating a healthy diet doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite foods. There are plenty of ways to change your diet, keep your weight, and still enjoy our favorite cooking. But not everything is about what and how much you eat, but how active – or rather inactive – you are.
Here you’ll find some very useful tips for including exercise and healthy meals to your diet, so read on.
Pack on Fruits and Vegetables and Avoid Junk Food
Fruits and vegetables are very important for a healthy diet, so be sure to add lots of them to your meals. Junk food may be delicious, but it has very low nutritional value. It contains a lot of calories from fat and sugar and has very little protein, dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
This doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself with a pizza now and then, but don’t turn it into a habit. Instead, eat fresh vegetables and fruits as much as you can, and be sure to add legumes, lean meat and grain to your diet as well.
Cut Down on Salt and Sugar
Did you know that your body needs less than a gram of sodium a day? That’s a bit less than half a teaspoon of salt. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, and it increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, while too much sugar leads to obesity and diabetes.
Foods that contain added sugars or salt may be tasty, but they’re significantly less healthy than foods that naturally contain them. So, limit your salt and sugar intake by eating mostly fresh foods and frozen vegetables, and avoiding sodas, processed meats and other processed foods, including processed sauces and condiments.
Also, start cooking with less salt. It may take time for your taste buds to adjust, but it’ll be worth it.
Pro Tip: Adding vinegar, olive oil or lemon juice just before you finish cooking a meal will improve the flavor just like salt does.
Limit Your Fat Intake
Just like processed foods contain lots of salt, they also contain unhealthy fats. That’s why you should choose lean meats, and low-fat and fat-free dairy products, such as skim milk, fat-free yogurt, and low-fat cheese.
Include fish, soy, olives, avocado, nuts, and seeds in your diet, as they contain essential fatty acids, along with other healthy nutrients.
When cooking, replace butter with olive or canola oil, but you can substitute oil altogether with stock, lemon juice, fruit juice, wine, vinegar or water. You can also replace butter and sour creams with salsas, pesto, and chutneys.
When cooking lean meat, be sure to trim the fat from it, and remove the skin from poultry.
Stop Eating When You’re Satisfied
Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes to feel full when you start eating? That’s how much time it takes for your brain to realize that you’re not hungry anymore.
Not sensing satiety can make you overeat and feel pretty stuffed later, which makes you gain weight faster. So, listen to your body and stop eating when you’re satisfied, instead of waiting until you’re full and can’t take a single bite anymore.
Pro Tip: Drink a glass of water 10 minutes before a meal. That way, your brain will realize that you’re full within 10 minutes, so you won’t overeat.
Also, avoid eating while watching TV, because it will distract you from actually enjoying your food and realizing when you’re full. You’d be taking bites automatically and eating much longer than usual.
Eat Snacks, But Don’t Confuse Them with Treats
Lots of people don’t make a difference between snacks and treats. Don’t make this mistake if you want to maintain a healthy weight and keep your health in top condition.
Snacks are important to ensure you don’t overeat once it’s time for your main meals, because they’ll stop you from getting too hungry. But what snacks should you eat? Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and protein bars.
Make Time for Exercise
This is the most crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. You could follow the healthiest diet possible, but you could still be gaining weight if you’re not physically active. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, it won’t matter if you eat a well-balanced diet. You simply need to start moving.
If you’ve never worked out a day in your life, it can be tough to start and actually be motivated to keep it up. But if you truly want to enjoy your favorite cooking and maintain a healthy weight, you need to make time for exercise, at least 2-3 times a week.
No Time for Exercise? Here’s How You Can Be More Active
If you don’t have the time to hit the gym, there are other ways to be more physically active. You could ditch your car or avoid public transportation, and simply walk. Walking also counts as exercise, you know. Give your best friend a call and hit the streets. It’s a much better way to catch up and spend some quality time together, instead of always talking on the phone.
You could also go for a run, use the stairs instead of the elevator, and go for a walk during office lunch and coffee breaks instead of ordering food. You could take up a hobby that includes any form of physical activity that you may find interesting, such as gardening, golfing, hiking and anything that gets you to move.
Are you ready to start living your life to the fullest? You’d better be, because otherwise, your poor habits may eventually take a toll on your overall health. Follow all these tips and remember to stay physically active, because that’s the most crucial path to a happy and healthy lifestyle.