Replacing bad dietary habits with healthy eating choices

Eating healthy food and developing healthy eating habits are beneficial for our health and wellbeing in many ways. By choosing to eat healthy (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/pyramid/), you promote good health, stay energetic, prevent development of many diseases such as high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and digestion problems. Quite often we don’t pay attention to our diet; we buy cheap, easy prepared meals and we prepare meals based on cost or taste rather than nutritional value. Commonly, only after we develop health problems, will we think about our diet and choose our food more carefully.

Changing eating habits (http://www.helpguide.org/life/healthy_eating_diet.htm) is not easy but it’s possible and beneficial to our health, strength, immune system and quality of life. Following are some tips to help you choose, plan and follow a healthy diet:

-Have realistic expectations. To adopt long-lasting, healthy eating habits, the best approach is one that will not be overwhelming. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and remember it takes at least four weeks for our brain to recognized new practices as habits.

-Reexamine your old eating habits. Write down your daily diet to have clearer insight of what needs to change. Write it in a food diary and include everything you eat or drink, including snacks and treats.

The results might be surprising and motivate you to stick with your healthier eating plan.

– Start with small changes and adjustments in your diet. Replace one meal with your new diet and select that meal by whichever is easier to alter based upon your living habits, work and available preparation time. This will be easier to follow and you will enable your body and mind to adjust. When you feel ready, replace the remaining meals completely with new, healthier ones.

-Get organized. Good planning is very important in sticking to your new diet. Plan all your meals for the coming week. Write down the ingredients and, if possible, avoid last-minute food shopping. The main reasons for giving up on a new diet are hunger combined with stress from lack of time preparation time.

Deprivation from food is a powerful, overwhelming instinct. When hungry, most of us will eat any food no matter how unhealthy it is. Planning with help you avoid this pitfall because your healthy food choices will be readily available.

-Gradually substitute your favorite unhealthy food with healthier ones. For example, replace whole fat cheese with low fat, use mustard instead of mayonnaise, whole bread instead of white, or poultry instead of pork. If you are a soda drinker, replace it with tea. Prepare healthy snacks instead of chips and sweets. Search for healthy food and drink recipes and choose from variety of healthy eating choices. Eating healthy does not mean food deprivation.

-Reduce your portion size. Most of the time we don’t think about quantity. We eat the entire meal that has been served to us although we may not be that hungry. Our bodies function and digest food best when we eat at least five small portions throughout the day. This also sparks your energy while curbing hunger attacks.

By teaching your children to develop healthy eating habits (http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Eating_tips_for_children_(5)_primary_school) from an early age, they will experience fewer problems avoiding an unhealthy diet on their own as they grow older. Changing old habits can be challenging, but the results are rewarding and beneficial to you and your family.

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