When it comes to trying to eat more healthfully, there are so many things we could be doing. However, our clients often tell us they feel overwhelmed by it all and want to know what they should really concentrate on. They prefer to focus on a handful of habits that really count. Here are our top five healthy eating habits that you “should” be doing and why.
1. Split it before it comes.
Ask restaurant servers to split meals and bag half “to-go” before they arrive at your table.
Why it’s a no-brainer: Most Americans dine out (or order in) at least several days a week. Portion sizes are notoriously large and most people eat everything they’re served, usually without realizing it is more than they need. And even if you realize you’re getting too much, it’s often difficult to resist overeating when the food is staring you down.
How you can make it work even better: Order a side of steamed veggies without added butter or oil. If you’re a fan of large helpings, mix the veggies right in the portion you receive and you’ll fill your stomach with nutrients and fiber without adding extra calories. This way you won’t feel cheated or deprived because your meal won’t appear smaller, only your waistline will.
2. Write down what you eat.
Why it’s a no-brainer: Writing down what you eat keeps you in check and holds you accountable. A bite here, a taste there—these all add up. If you write down that you polished off a bag of chips, you can’t forget it happened. Research shows that people who record what they eat lose twice as much weight as those who don’t.
How you can make it work even better: Try using an app such as Lose It, which allows you to record what you eat. It remembers meals so it makes tracking easy if you frequently eat the same dishes. Plus, you’re also able to see how many calories those little bites or sleeves of cookies are setting you back.
3. Use nori or lettuce for traditional sandwiches or wraps rather than carb-rich bread.
Why it’s a no-brainer: Most people get plenty of carbs throughout the day, but fall short on veggies, especially green ones and this will help you to address both issues. Plus, think of all of the calories you’ll save (close to 300!) by cutting out those wraps or the large slices of bread. You still get the satisfying protein, nutrient-dense veggies and other carbs like rice that are often stuffed in wraps.
How you can make it work even better: Stock nori in your pantry—it’s dried so it stays good for awhile. So even if you don’t have lettuce, you’ll have nori and don’t have to worry that it spoiled. Plus, going for nori instead of lettuce provides some omega 3’s and nori is believed to help cut both a sweet tooth or salt tooth craving.
4. Use our Red, Green and Orange rule.
Include one red, green or orange vegetable or fruit in every meal.
Why it’s a no-brainer: Most people say they actually do like fruits and vegetables, but tend to leave them out of their meals. When you concentrate on getting one of these colors at each meal, you won’t forget. Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of disease-fighting nutrients and are high in fiber, low in calories, and great for helping maintain a healthy weight and fighting aging.
How you can make it work even better: Fine-tune your produce choices by focusing on your health or beauty goals. Choose veggies that are best for you—if you want to beat bloat, boost your mood, lose weight, fight cancer, reduce stress, etc. Check out our new book, The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure: Expert Advice and Tantalizing Recipes for Health, Energy and Beauty, where we name the specific vegetables that are best for what you want and provide more than 100 corresponding recipes—so there’s many ways to use our Red, Green and Orange Rule.
5. Plan your healthy “go-to” snack when you want to mindlessly munch.
Why it’s a no-brainer: Even those of us with the greatest willpower fall prey to cravings every now and then. If you’re not prepared with a healthy “go-to” option it will be easy to succumb to your craving—and you’ll likely end up feeling a little sick and guilty. Having foods on hand that you can munch on without the calories escalating out of control will save your waistline and your conscience.
How you can make it work even better: Mentally prepare yourself should a craving kick in. In your head, walk through the steps of what you’ll do when the craving strikes. Imagine going straight for your planned healthy option and feeling satisfied with it. If you tend to crave sweets, have a portion-controlled sweet like a small peppermint patty in the pantry to turn to should you need it.