When it comes to making decisions regarding your health, it can get tough to know where to start. There are so many options out there that are seemingly healthy but are actually bad for you. And then there are, of course, so many easy options out there, such as fast food when you are hungry and want something fast.
To help those seeking guidance with some ways to live a more healthy lifestyle, we have decided to share 15 helpful diet habits for a healthy lifestyle that anybody can apply to their life.
Disclaimer: These health tips are meant as a general guide for those looking to improve their health. It is important for our bariatric patients that you carefully follow the bariatric surgery guidelines to ensure optimal recovery and weight loss success.
Without further delay, let’s get started!
1. Plan and Prep Healthy Meals in Advance
For many of us, life can get hectic, and some days don’t allow you the time to cook or prep each meal. A great solution to this problem is simply preparing your meals in advance and taking them on the go.
Prepping and planning meals for Monday through Wednesday and then Thursday through Saturday, for example. This gives you the ability to eat much healthier meals consistently.
2. Build Shopping List Around Healthy Meals
When shopping for the foods to prep your meals, making healthy selections is the key to making it pay off. Selections such as produce, lean meat, healthy fats, and whole grains help to ensure that your meals will be packed with vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and much more.
3. Shop the Perimeter Where Healthy Foods Are
Since you want to meal prep and be built around healthy meals, it is important to know where healthy foods are. For the most part, the healthiest foods are located around the perimeter of the store. The produce, lean meat, fish, whole grains, nuts (such as almonds), and other healthy selections are great places to start.
Then you can work your way through the isles that have additional healthy selections such as green tea, beans, etc. Many of the aisles throughout grocery stores are filled with processed and prepackaged foods loaded with sugars, sodium, and other unhealthy ingredients.
4. Avoid Foods that POSE as Healthy
Some food selections seem like they are a healthy choice because of clever labeling and branding. However, you must learn to avoid such foods as they can be damaging to your health.
Some examples of seemingly healthy foods that aren’t that good for you are cereals, which may claim to support heart health, sugar-free snacks, diet soda, Lean Pockets, trail mix, and much more.
Many of these sorts of selections use ingredients that your body will now know what to do with or contain great amounts of sodium and sugar, and simple carbohydrates.
5. Shop on a Full Stomach
When you are hungry, it can be tempting to buy a quick snack that isn’t healthy and buy more food than you need. By shopping on a full stomach, you allow yourself to select the foods you truly need and allow yourself more freedom to take your time and be sure you make wise selections.
Many grocery stores have unhealthy selections such as candy bars, chips, and soda located at the checkout, and the last thing that you want is to be so hungry that you grab from those selections to settle your stomach.
6. Drink the Correct Fluids and Keep Hydrated
When it comes to making great health choices, even the fluids you drink can help or hurt you. Some fluids to avoid are soda, alcohol, fruit drinks such as orange juice, creams, and syrups in your coffee, milkshakes, and the list can go on.
Some great selections to go with instead are a minimum of 8 cups of water, some herbal tea such as green tea, coffee, and some other great options out there. Some fluids such as syrups and creams for coffee can be high in sugar, which is why avoiding or limiting them is often a wise decision. Coffee after bariatric surgery should be decaf and avoided unless in moderation.
7. Don’t Eat at Restaurants Often
While it can be enjoyable to take in a nice restaurant’s atmosphere and ambiance, they can be costly regarding money and your health. Some of the ingredients and cooking methods used in restaurants may not be so good for you. A good alternative to eating out is to prep meals with the good selections made at your local grocery store.
8. Avoid Added Sugar and Salt in Your Meals
A primary reason for buying healthy selections is to prevent additives such as high sodium content and sugar. For that very reason, it is important to avoid adding these to your meals that you prep for yourself. Both sodium and sugar have negative effects on your health when you take in amounts above what is recommended for your daily caloric needs.
If you are eating a great balanced diet which involves very low sodium, a pinch of salt here or there isn’t so bad, but moderation is key. Because sugar can naturally occur in foods such as fruits, it is also important to be careful about how much sugar you take in with those sorts of foods factored in.
9. Balance Your Meals (Macros) Properly
When prepping meals, it is important what you choose to put into your body and how you balance it out. Some focus on calorie intake, and then those focus on macronutrients in calorie intake. The winning selection is to go with macronutrients, which breaks down your caloric intake into three categories:
By figuring out a good balance of carbohydrates, fat, and protein (macros), you can better provide your body with the overall balance that it needs.
10. Eat Carbohydrates, the Right Carbohydrates
Where some may go wrong with nutrition are, for example, no carb diets, which deprives your body of valuable whole grains that it needs. Whole grains are, of course, a key factor in that sentence. It is wise to cut out simple carbohydrates such as white bread, tortillas, white rice, potatoes and replace them with whole-grain options such as yams, oats, and whole wheat.
The problem with simple carbohydrates like white bread is that they cause issues with your blood sugar, leading to health issues such as diabetes.
11. Use Low or No Calorie Additives for Flavor
When it comes to adding some flavor to your food, it can be tempting to buy sauces and dressings. But many dressings and sauces contain high levels of sugar and sodium, alongside unhealthy fats and other additives that aren’t ideal for sustaining good health. Some great alternatives to add to your diet can be options such as:
- Healthy oils
- Splash of citrus
12. Support Good Digestive Health and Your Immune System with Probiotics
A great way to further ensure that you have good overall health is to add probiotics (live microorganisms that
reside in your gut and benefit your digestion and health). This can also aid in reducing depression and anxiety. Some great sources of probiotics are:
- Yogurt – Perhaps the most popular choice, but it is important to be sure it is organic and from grass-fed goats or sheep.
- Kefir – Similar to yogurt but higher in probiotics, this option can contain anywhere from 10 to 34 strains of probiotics to help aid in good health and digestion.
- Kombucha – This fermented black tea can serve as an excellent way to aid in digestive support, increased energy, and liver detoxification.
13. Eat Omega-3 Fatty Acids
A great essential to good health and happiness is to include omega-3 fatty acids. One great benefit of doing this is that it can reduce depression and leave you feeling more energized and confident. Some excellent sources of omega-3’s are wild-caught salmon or sardines, flax seeds, or walnuts. It’s nice to include these things at least twice a week to support good health.
14. Spicy foods and Healthy Spices
Utilizing spicy foods and healthy spices is a great way to boost your health and add flavor to your meals.
By eating hot peppers, you can provide your body with capsaicin, which has numerous health benefits which include:
- Pain relief
- Reduced inflammation
- Congestion relief
- Improved intestinal health
The hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin that it contains. If you are sensitive to spicy, it is good to introduce it into your diet and gradually build tolerance gradually.
And then, there are healthy spices such as ginger (antioxidants and anti-inflammatory), turmeric (anti-inflammatory and carcinogenic), and cinnamon (controls blood sugar).
15. Select Healthy Snack Options
Between meals, it can be great to fit in a nice quick snack now and then. Perhaps you are about to cook dinner, but you are already hungry and could use something to tide you over. Some may go for a bag of chips, some candy, or perhaps even a doughnut at times like this. Those are not healthy snacks to select as they contain sugar, sodium, simple carbohydrates, which turn to sugar and provide little to no nutritional value.
Some great options to have as quick snacks can be fruit such as berries, an apple, or pineapple. Then there are vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, and celery that can make great finger foods to settle your stomach. Nuts such as almonds, cashews, and walnuts can also serve as an excellent go-to. There are even dark chocolate covered almonds if you want to satisfy your sweet tooth.
The benefit of eating fruits, vegetables, and nuts as your snacks is that you provide your body with healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and more.