If there is anything to be said about modern times, it’s that people don’t have enough time to care for their health. This disrupts the possibility of leading a healthy lifestyle, especially when it comes to food. For the majority of individuals, food is something they can have on the go, at fast-food restaurants, at the street stands, or delivered. However, meals are more than fuels to keep us functioning through the day.
Our bodies depend on the nutrients we get from the food we eat, like vitamins, proteins, and minerals. If the ingredients’ quality is subpar, you might be going down the road to becoming obese, developing a serious condition, or suffering fatal consequences. Changing that is not easy, but it’s not as hard as you think, either. To prove that, here are healthy eating hacks that can help busy people stay equally active and well-nourished.
Drink water before meals
Having 6–8 glasses of water every day is recommended for good health, but it can turn into an eating hack if you take it in a specific way. Drink one big glass of water immediately after you wake up and do the same before every meal. The water will make you less hungry by filling in a certain space in your stomach.
Moreover, it can help with constipation, detox, and make your skin radiant. If you don’t have a habit of drinking enough water, motivate yourself by keeping a bottle close to you. To improve its taste, add lemon or orange juice for additional flavor.
Never skip a meal
One of the most common side effects of being busy is skipping meals, especially breakfast. Food gives your body sustenance to work properly, so skipping a meal can lead to diabetes and obesity conditions.
This happens because ghrelin’s hunger hormone increases when you don’t eat regularly, making you more hungry and causing overeating. To avoid this, start blending food — it will take only a few minutes, and you will have a delicious smoothie for a meal.
Keep the food diary
There is a useful trick that will keep you on track with a healthy diet — log everything you eat. You can use apps to do it, or you can develop your own system. While tracking calories may seem like an old-school practice, it will encourage you to stay within appropriate levels. However, don’t rely only on that but also on what type of food you eat, since that will affect your diet quality.
Change the size of the serving plate
You need less food than you eat, so try this simple trick to downsize your portions. Start serving food on smaller plates than usual, even without affecting its quantities. The serving plate’s size has a lot to do with your perception of how much you ate, so you may not ask for seconds.
If there are food groups you would like to eat more, serve them on large plates. Also, keep anything unhealthy on small plates until you eliminate it from your diet.
Stop drinking your calories
If you drink coffee or tea with sugar, cream, and milk, you are contributing to your caloric intake. You can always use healthy sweeteners, like stevia and low-fat milk. Soft drinks and alcohol should also be off-limits or at least not drunk too often. Instead of buying beverages in the store, make them yourself avoid artificial ingredients, such as a homemade tea with lemon slices and mint fresh mint.
Throw out junk food
If you are at the beginning of your switch to a healthier diet, start getting rid of all the junk food in your home. Junk food is full of saturated fats, salt, sugar, preservatives, artificial dyes, and other things you should stir away from. Instead, cut celery and carrots for snacks, put them in the container, and keep in the fridge so you can get them whenever you get the munchies.
Cook at home
Another way to avoid fast food and take-out is if you cook your food. Although you are busy, you can make a lot of meals in just a few minutes. Buy the right cookware, and you can even try dry and steam cookers that don’t require stirring — you just need to put in the ingredients.
Look for quick and easy meals online, write down what you like, and stock your home with staple food. This will have you cooking tasty meals in your kitchen every day and help you control your diet.
Use cinnamon instead of cream and sugar
If black coffee is hard to get used to, put cinnamon in your cup instead of cream and sugar. Besides being tasty, this aromatic spice is great for your health, lowering bad cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglycerides. Furthermore, it can be beneficial for the immune system and your brain since it’s full of antioxidants.
Eat more vegetables
Vegetables are the source of things that can provide a lot of nutrients to your body. Not only will you get vitamins and other nutritious elements, but also they are perfect for weight management. Potatoes, peas, and corn contain starch, so don’t go overboard with them. However, you can include other veggies in every meal — boiled, steamed, roasted, or raw.
Prep the meals ahead
Busy people sometimes don’t have enough time to cook every day. This is still not a reason to give up on home-cooked meals. Designate one day in the week for the preparation of meals for the whole week, like Saturday or Sunday. Wait until the food cools down and place it in microwave-safe containers. During the week, all you have to do is take the container out of the fridge and heat the food.
Be wary of canned food
Canned food may be the most convenient, but it’s also not the healthiest choice. They tend to be full of sodium and sugar, to the very least. If you don’t have access to fresh products, opt for frozen vegetables and fruits. Because of the quick and deep freeze, they keep most of their nutritional value.
When it comes to canned meat products, like spam, they usually lack quality and are full of additives, including meat-waste, tendons, fat pieces, and skin. So, if you have any condition, like high pressure or sugar, you should avoid having this food in your pantry.
Have fruits for dessert
If you have a sweet tooth, then dessert is important to you. Cakes, tarts, and pies are tasty and the source of a concerning amount of calories. Fruits are the best replacement for sweets that will keep your sugar levels in check.
Take fruit to work to avoid buying candy and craving for sugar, but don’t have too much of it either. Fruit also contains a sugar called fructose that, when consumed in high amounts, it can be unhealthy. For example, an apple can have two teaspoons of sugar, while a peach has one and a half.
Keep your electronic devices off the table
Looking at your tablet or phone during meals can make you eat more. To prevent this from happening, don’t bring any electronics to the table. Time at the dinner table is a wonderful opportunity to unplug and enjoy conversations with others or be more mindful of how much you eat.
Having company at the dinner table is considered a peer pressure factor. It means that you may be influenced by others to eat in a certain way. If you know that your companions are unhealthy eaters, it may be wise to prepare yourself or avoid dining with them for a while.
Make your snacks healthier
When you don’t eat for three to four hours, your body starts to object, and you are in search of food. While it’s easy to go for the vending machine, try healthy snacks based on a protein that can satiate your hunger.
This can help you stick to less than 200 calories, limit the sugar intake, and prevent you from overeating before the big meal. Think of something down the lines of protein bars since you can eat them anywhere — at your desk, in transportation, or even in meetings.
Respect the 15-minute rule
For those unfamiliar with the 15-minute rule, it’s taking a break after eating to see if you need another serving or not. After a meal, your stomach sends a signal to the brain, informing it that you have satisfied your hunger. This 15-minute timeframe is how long it takes for this process to happen.
This is also why you often hear advice to eat or chew slowly, so you may give sufficient time to your stomach and brain to communicate. Fast-eaters often feel too full, bloated, and uncomfortable because they ate more than they needed to.
Embrace the blue
Colors impact everything we do, so it’s no surprise they can affect the appetite. If you want to eat less for health reasons or to lose weight, then red is not the color you want in your dining room. It’s considered an appetite-inducing color, so even red napkins can make you eat more.
To suppress your appetite, introduce blue to your interior design. Think of blue dinnerware, tablecloth, and details here and there, or go for bigger décor changes, like wall paint.
Build a support system
If you feel you may be too weak to resist the urge to cheat on your healthy diet, build a support system. Ask family members, partners, and friends to point out whenever you go back to your bad eating habits. To make things more serious, create penalty rules together.
For example, you have to buy them something when you’re caught or do something you are not comfortable with. It’s a genius incentive to stay on track and help you eliminate all the bad eating habits in your life, or at least the majority of them.
Don’t go hungry to the store
Eating before going to the store can save you from a lot of bad decisions when grocery shopping. You will probably end up buying junk food, sweets, and anything else easy to cook or eat immediately. Based on research, hungry people tend to choose high-calorie foods, which also applies to online stores.
Even a snack can be useful to stop yourself from going home with a bag full of unhealthy products. If you control your appetite, you will avoid buying things you shouldn’t eat in the first place.
Stick to your grocery list
A grocery list can help you stay away from aisles with tempting and unhealthy options. It will also make sure you buy what you need, so you don’t avoid cooking or eating at home because of the missing ingredient.
If you can’t find something from your list in the store, try someplace else or replace that ingredient with something other equally healthy. When it comes to food, don’t be afraid to be creative and discover new tastes. This excitement may be what you need to continue with your healthy diet, even when too busy.
Indulge yourself on occasion
If you forbid yourself to eat something completely, then you will most likely only crave it more. This doesn’t mean you should eat everything and without care. Try to implement the rule of 90% healthy food and 10% allowed cheats. Even then, you should go for the healthier choices. For example, instead of regular chocolate, have a dark one with a high amount of cocoa.
The bottom line
No matter if you are busy being a parent, employee, or socialite, you can still think about your well-being and practice self-care. These healthy eating hacks can help you make a plan and stick to it until you are used to this change. Also, if you derail from this path — don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s okay to have cheat moments or relapse as long as they are scarce, and you continue with your healthy diet the majority of the time.
Featured Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels