Habits may not be easy to change, but changing even just a few can be an effective way of developing a healthier lifestyle. If you need a place to start, here are three eating habits that will improve your health the most.
1. Eat veggies at every meal
Many people think veggies are good for you because they have very few calories, but its more about what veggies have than what they don’t.
Veggies are high in fiber which helps maintain healthy levels of cholesterol and blood glucose. Vegetables are also where we find necessary vitamins and minerals to keep our body functioning like it should. For example, potassium (found in foods including spinach) helps maintain healthy blood pressure and vitamin A helps maintain healthy bones, skin and eyes.
A diet high in vegetable intake can decrease your risk of many chronic health conditions and increase the length of your life. Diseases such as atherosclerosis and cancer are caused/exacerbated by what’s called oxidative damage. We can manage the amount of oxidative damage by consuming antioxidants like vitamin C (found in bell peppers and broccoli), vitamin E (found in kale and swiss chard), and zinc (found in green beans and brussels sprouts), so eat up!
Here are just a few easy ways to add vegetables into your meals:
- Add spinach to eggs in the morning
- Add diced tomatoes into pasta sauce
- Add a side salad for lunch or dinner
2. Swap sugar-sweetened beverages for water
Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) is associated with over 25% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, 20% greater risk of having a heart attack, decreased bone health and a 75% higher risk of developing gout. Consumption of these high calorie, low nutrient drinks are a major cause of weight gain and obesity. In addition, individuals who habitually drink SSBs have overall poor diet quality (intake of fiber, vitamins and minerals).
Some health swaps include:
- Black coffee + milk instead of dessert-in-a-cup drinks
- Lemon-infused water instead of lemonade
- Unsweetened iced tea instead of sweetened iced tea
- A piece of whole fruit instead of fruit juice/punch
It may seem overwhelming to start preparing breakfast or cooking dinner, but just like going to the drive-through, it can become a habit. Studies show that those who spend more time preparing food have better eating habits overall. If you’re thinking you don’t have the time, you’d be surprised to know it doesn’t always have to take a lot of time. Here are 10 breakfasts to make in less than 10 minutes and 5 healthy meals to make in a snap.
Preparing meals is a cornerstone of a healthy life. If you make the time to cook now, you’re giving yourself the gift of a longer and healthier life!