The most common fitness advice given today is: Eat right and exercise. But what are the specifics? I’m fairly certain that most people would agree that eating right and exercising is good advice, but few would agree on the best plan. So what does it mean to eat right? We all seem to have our own definition, and the experts have done well at over-complicating it.
Before we set out to perfect our eating habits, it would probably be wise to see what we are eating now or else how will we know what to change? We are lucky to live in a world where information is so readily available. You can look up nutritional values for every food imaginable. Use this information to figure out what you’re eating everyday and write it down in a food log. Ask yourself these questions:
- What does your diet consist of?
- Are you getting enough servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains?
- Do you limit foods that are high in fat and cholesterol?
- Do you drink 6-8 glasses of water each day?
- Do you limit caffeinated and high sugar foods and drinks?
If you want to eat right, you must first honestly assess how you’re existing eating habits are. There is so much dietary information out there that it’s very easy to become apathetic towards the whole diet issue and not truly track what we eat. If you want to see if you’re in a healthy weight range, look up your ideal weight range or measure your body fat. These numbers can be a much better gauge of whether you have good health habits or whether you need to change your eating and fitness habits.
Obesity has been used as a gauge for longevity for years. It’s the research of life insurance companies that produced ideal weight charts. And if we want to lose weight and live a longer and healthier life, we need to eat right. When it comes to eating right, the amount of information out there can be nauseating. If you want to see a simpler approach that’s easy to understand, check out the USDA’s revised guidance, My Plate, which replaces the Food Pyramid. Because our eating habits have been formed gradually over years of family, work place and society influence, we need to take time to gradually change them. When we try to change them drastically overnight through a crash diet, we usually set ourselves up for failure. If you want to start eating right, here are some tips to help you ease into it:
- Eat Breakfast
A good breakfast with a piece of fruit and some whole grain oat bran or cereal will keep you satisfied through the first part of the day and rev your metabolism up. Eating fast food on the run or holding off until a large mid-day meal will not help you in the long run. Start your day off right – eat breakfast.
- Plan out your snacks
If you know that you get hungry at the same times each day, pack a snack. By packing a low calorie snack you can avoid the trip to the vending machine and control what you’re eating instead of leaving it to chance. By picking good snacks, you’ll be amazed at how your calorie intake will decrease.
- Drink Water!
You can eat right sometimes by eating less. And of the easiest ways to eat less is to drink water when you’re fidgety and looking for something to eat. We need water to live more than any other element aside from oxygen. Water keeps are stomachs full and can help dilute and flush out waste products. And if you’re lucky enough to have clean water…it’s free!
- Savor the treats
When we set out to eat right, many of us eliminate all fatty foods from our diets. While this is a good thing, it’s near impossible for most of us to continue for the long-term. So instead of eliminating those treats, save them for special occasions. What were treats for me growing up (cookies, cake, soda, ice cream,,,) have now become part of the daily menu for many, many people. Try saving these treats for the weekends or other occasions and you’ll enjoy them much more while saving yourself a lot of unnecessary fat and calories.
So if you’re setting out to eat right, take a moment to see what your habits are now and what you intend them to be for the foreseeable future. And if you want to have your cake and eat it to…see what a little exercise can do for you!