There is no scientific evidence that proves diets work for the long term. Sure, you’ll see fast results if you try some kind of fad diet, but it won’t last long. Diets aren’t sustainable, which is why it’s important to learn healthy eating habits for the long term.
Eating healthy is about balance. It’s about enjoying a glass of wine and not feeling guilty about it. It’s about learning how to intuitively eat, listening to your body’s cues, and not attaching emotions to any of your meals. Healthy eating habits can be cultivated with a few simple changes—changes that won’t feel overwhelming or restrictive on your eating. We now know that restricted eating doesn’t work, so instead, here are a few healthy eating habits you can incorporate into daily life that will lead you closer to a healthier lifestyle. And yes, it can even help with losing those pesky extra pounds.
Stock up on healthy snacks.
Snacking is inevitable, we all love to do it! Craving a little afternoon snack (or a mid-morning bite between breakfast and lunch) shouldn’t be the reason we turn to salty and fatty junk foods. Instead, stock your pantry with healthier snacks you truly enjoy. Fruit and peanut butter are obviously great options, but you could also snag popcorn, nut or date bars, cheese sticks, and snap pea crisps.
Fill half your plate with veggies.
Pile on the veggies! Not only does it fill your plate up quickly, but it also provides a ton of nutrients. Plus, they’re low in calories. Salad greens are easy, but you could also add roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, green beans, squash, carrots, and more.
Drink water throughout the day.
Water wards off dehydration (which causes you to want to eat more), but it’s also incredibly important for your digestion. Plus, if you’re drinking water throughout the day, you’re less likely to drink other sugary drinks—like soda and sugary cocktails. Not sure how much you need to be drinking? Here’s an easy way to calculate how much water to drink.
Make frozen smoothie packs.
Making smoothies is a lot easier when you have the supplies on hand! Stock up your freezer with some of your favorite frozen fruits, or even divide up some frozen fruits in smoothie packs. One easy smoothie pack to make includes 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup of berries, and 1 cup of kale (loosely packed). When you’re reading for a smoothie, mix with 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk and either 1 tablespoon of peanut butter or 1 scoop of protein powder. This works well as a snack, but can even be filling enough for a meal!
Swap with whole grains.
Whole-grain carbohydrates are loaded with dietary fiber, which is the best food you can have for weight loss. Swapping out your white, refined carbohydrates for whole-grain carbohydrates and complex carbs is actually a lot easier than you think. You can find whole-grain pasta, tortillas, bread, crackers, and more.
Roast sheet pan dinners.
Frying and sauteeing are easy ways to cook dinner, but if you’re not careful, you can easily load it up with lots of oil, which piles on the calories. Instead, roast your dinner in the oven on a sheet pan. Sheet pan dinners are easy to throw together and easy in terms of controlling how much oil you end up using. Plus, they’re super tasty, and the dish clean-up later is minimal.
Sip on seltzer.
Water is good to drink, but it can get boring pretty quickly. Find a few seltzers you love that can change up your usual water-drinking routine. Plus, by choosing flavored seltzer, you can easily replace your sugary sodas and other beverages that are full of empty calories.
Portion your food.
Portioning out your food doesn’t mean restricting your food! It means properly portioning out the right amount of food for each meal. For a normal lunch of dinner plate, it’s good to have at least 4 to 5 oz. of protein, 1-2 cups of vegetables, 1/2 cup (or 1 serving) of a complex carb, and a serving of healthy fats. This plate is full and filling, and you won’t feel like you’re missing out.
Choose one dessert for the day.
Have a sweet tooth? You don’t have to eliminate your favorite sweets completely. Just like portioning out your food, plan your dessert for the day and portion it correctly. If you love ice cream, have a scoop of ice cream. Dark chocolate? Enjoy a serving of it. Are you more of a brownie person? Enjoy one warmed up with a dollop of whipped cream. It will satisfy your sweet craving and you won’t overdo it on the calories.
Or make your own sweet treat from our list of 73+ Best Healthy Dessert Recipes.