“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.’ – Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story
We’ve all been there: prom, summer vacation, hot date, wedding day… We’ve all gone down that road of killing ourselves in order to become display-worthy. We’ve all resigned to this idea that we can eat all sorts of junk throughout the year and skimp-to-starve before those special occasions. What we fail to understand is that junk is junk, no matter what it tastes like. Also, wouldn’t it be great if we could eat yummy but still look as great as we do during those special times all year round?
Most of us don’t want to resign ourselves to tirelessly counting calories and practically moving into the gym in order to be healthy – it’s just too difficult and expensive. What we should realize is that we can be healthy without having to kill ourselves in the process. No, we don’t accomplish this by eating tasteless, forever-boiled fare. It’s possible! Here’s how:
1. Eat with Color
Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits in an array of colors. Did you know that different antioxidants create the different colors of those luscious foods? The more antioxidants in your body, the healthier you are, the longer you live. Here’s a quick color guide:
• Yellow/Orange – Sweet potatoes, oranges, mangoes, corn and the like all contain tons of carotenoids, an antioxidant responsible for reducing the risk of cancer, and Vitamin A, which help repair micro tears in muscles.
• Green – Spinach, broccoli, apples, kiwis, grapes and other green stuff all contain Vitamin A for good skin, Vitamin C for the immune system, calcium for health bones and great amounts of lutein, which clears and sharpens vision.
• Blue/Purple – Blueberries, blackberries, sugar beets, black rice and such all contain anthocyanin, an antioxidant that helps maintain healthy blood vessels, suppress tumor growth, maintain a healthy heart and improve memory function.
• Red – Tomatoes, watermelon, strawberries, cranberries and more all contain lycopene, an antioxidant responsible for protecting the body against cancer and heart disease, and improving the skin’s natural protection against UV rays. Many of these like colored fruits and vegetables also contains good amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin A and potassium.
• White – Just because there’s a lack of color, does not mean there is a lack of nutrients. Some white foods, such as cauliflower, also have cancer-fighting properties. Potatoes, turnips, bananas and parsnips are high in Vitamins C, folic acid and fiber. Lastly, mushrooms are high in riboflavin and niacin, which gives the feeling of fullness and satisfaction.
2. Don’t Skip Meals
Never ever. Whether in an attempt to lose weight, be healthy or just a sheer lack of time, never skip any meals. Skipping meals causes the body to go into starvation mode, slowing metabolism and increasing appetite later on. In addition, skipping meals then binging later on can lead to diabetes because it results in a delayed insulin response. Lastly, skipping meals can also lead to headaches, sleepiness and fatigue, and mood swings. Instead of skipping meals, snack on smaller healthy portions and light, healthy meals throughout the day to keep your calories down.
One way to know how to eat healthy is to know what needs to be improved in your diet. Keep a food journal. Write down everything you eat for a week then check your list. Do you eat a lot of butter, creamy sauces, dessert? Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables? Figure out what needs to be changed, what is lacking and what is just fine, then adjust. Remember to do gradual changes. There is no such thing as an overnight success in being healthy. Try modest changes that can add up to positive, lifelong eating habits.
4. Pick your friends
What’s that got to do with it? Well, it’s called the Ripple Effect. We are influenced by the dietary preferences of the people with whom we keep company. We’ve all been in that situation where we’re trying to eat healthy, but we’re simply tempted by the juicy burger on the menu; and just when we’re about to order the salad, that one friend of ours decides to order the burger… “Make that two, please.” Research has shown that obese participants, who befriended others with similar weight loss targets, shed the most pounds. Other times, friends may even sabotage our journey to health by making unhealthy choices or comments. “Skip the gym” or “One bite won’t hurt.” Familiar?
Thus, it is also important to keep healthy company. But what happens when we’re with a different set of friends? To fix this, learn to make your own decision about food.
5. Don’t diet!
What?! But that’s what we’ve been trying to do for years! Losing weight and being healthy does not mean a lifetime of salads, boiled food and tasteless fares. It is about learning to say ‘yes’ to healthy choices and ‘no’ to bad choices. To be healthy, you can actually choose to eat what you want, just learn to eat less of it. Don’t feel guilty if you love potato chips, burgers, ice cream or pizza. Eat them in moderation. Try eating just one square of chocolate when you crave it; learn to share your burger. Also, learn to provide balance and variety to you meals. Have a salad with the burger; try baked chips instead of fried. If you miss out on any food group one day, make up for it the next. Balance is the key; not starvation.
Healthy eating does not equate to eating like a bird or eating tasteless fare. It is possible. Listen to your body and learn to show food who is the boss!