Were you aware that only 12% of Americans eat enough fruit? Even less, at 10%, eat sufficient vegetables. Moreover, one in four folks in the U.S. doesn’t get any exercise at all outside of work.
So, it’s no wonder that experts say the typical U.S. diet is behind the shortening lives of people in the country. For example, they note that diet-related deaths have outranked those due to smoking. Moreover, they point out that poor diet is a factor in almost 900 daily deaths.
All that should be enough reason to practice healthy eating habits as soon as possible. By doing so, you can start reducing your risks for chronic diseases and enjoying your life better.
To that end, we came up with this ultimate guide on healthy dietary habits. Keep reading, as you can try to do all of them as early as today.
1. Improve Your Sleep
We’re starting with this one because how you sleep affects your eating habits and vice versa.
For starters, poor sleep quality appears to raise one’s odds of being overweight or obese. According to research, it can increase a person’s risks by more than two-fold. That may be due to lack of sleep or poor sleep quality, which can increase dietary consumption.
Also, sleep problems can make you miss breakfast, which, as you know, is the most important meal of the day. One reason is that it kickstarts metabolism, helping you burn calories within the day.
If you oversleep, you may have no time for breakfast. As a result, you may overeat at a later time of the day. Overeating can result in indigestion and nausea, even during only one meal.
Thus, if you tend to sleep late, consider adjusting your bedtime so you can sleep earlier. It’s also best to avoid using blue light-emitting gadgets at least one hour before you sleep, as they can keep you up. In addition, consider turning off the lights or dimming them down to help you relax.
All those healthy habits can help improve your sleep, which, in turn, can help you wake up early the next day. From there, you can then kickstart your morning with a healthy, nourishing breakfast.
2. Make Lunch Your Largest Meal
Although breakfast is the day’s most important meal, lunch should be the largest. That’s because it’s at this time that the body’s digestion peaks. Thus, it’s around noon that you need more fuel, which you can get through high-energy healthy foods.
Moreover, if you make lunch the biggest meal of your day, you can cut the size of your dinner. You may even be okay with a light supper, such as a fruit or veggie salad.
Carbohydrate-rich foods, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and taro, are perfect for lunch. You can also go for whole grains and legumes or mix and match them with starchy veggies.
Don’t forget to include protein in your lunches, which you can get through meat, chicken, or fish. Eggs, dairy, beans, legumes, and tofu are also rich in this muscle-building molecule.
3. Eat Dinner Early
Weight gain, high blood sugar levels, and late dinners appear to have some connection. These findings are from a study published in 2020.
In the study, ten people ate dinner at 10 PM, while another ten ate the same meal at 6 PM. They then all went to bed at 11 PM.
The researchers found that those who ate at 10 PM had nearly 20% higher blood sugar levels than those who ate at 6 PM. Moreover, the body’s fat-burning ability went down by about 10% in the late eaters.
That shows how having dinners earlier is key to healthy eating. So, if you consistently eat later at night, consider bumping it down to an earlier time, say, 6 PM. Doing so can help your body burn what you’ve had faster since you’re still awake.
Plus, if you eat dinner early, your tummy won’t feel too full by the time you go to bed. That can also help you fall asleep earlier, allowing you to get up earlier the next day.
4. Stay Away From Fad Diets
Fad diets are dieting programs marketed as the best or the fastest way to lose weight. But despite their claims, they often lack clinical or scientific proof.
An example of a fad diet is one with high protein and fat content but low in carbohydrates. Another is a diet high in carbohydrates and fiber but restricts protein.
It’s best to avoid such plans because they may eliminate certain nourishing foods. They may also interfere with hormones, which can then lead to imbalances.
For instance, sudden weight loss can affect how the body produces ghrelin. Also called the “hunger hormone,” this chemical tells the brain that the stomach is empty. Therefore, it also acts as a “timer,” signaling it’s time to eat.
Ghrelin levels can significantly increase if you restrict your calorie intake. That helps explain why keeping up with fad diets is very challenging.
By contrast, people who are overweight or have obesity have low ghrelin levels. The thing is, weight loss diets seem to contribute to both, rather than helping people shed pounds. Indeed, several studies found that many people who dieted gained more than they lost.
For those reasons, it’s vital to stick to a healthy, balanced diet instead of a restrictive one. That can help control ghrelin levels, preventing hunger and craving.
As for low ghrelin levels, ghrelin receptor agonists, such as the MK 677 for sale online, may help. These substances may stimulate the production of the hunger hormone.
5. Take Your Time
The speed at which you eat your food matters because if you eat too fast, you may be at risk of weight gain. For instance, there’s a link between a higher eating rate and being overweight. Likewise, there’s a connection between a lower degree of chewing and being overweight.
One possible reason is that eating too fast gives the stomach too little time to digest food. As a result, you may not feel satiated right away when, in fact, you’re already full.
By contrast, taking the time to savor every bite gives your brain and body the time they need for digestion. For one, your gut releases the satiety hormone leptin whenever you eat. This chemical tells your brain that you’ve had your fill and that you’re full.
So, leptin tells you that you’ve had enough food and, therefore, to stop eating. However, these digestive processes take about 20 minutes.
Thus, if you eat slowly, you’re helping your brain and body complete those steps. At the same time, you can reduce your risks of overeating.
Another benefit of savoring every morsel of food is that you get to enjoy your meals more. Whereas if you gulp them down, you may not even be able to taste them. Also, note that some people develop hiccups due to eating too quickly.
6. Focus On Your Food
As screen time has gone up, so have body weight and obesity risks, especially among the youth. After all, the more time spent in front of screens, the more time spent being sedentary.
However, another possible reason is that screen time can lead to distracted eating. In many other cases, it can result in hurried eating. Either way, both can cause people to pay less attention to how much they eat.
That can then result in delayed feelings of satiety, ultimately leading to overeating.
So, as part of your healthy eating habits, remove distractions whenever you sit down for a meal. For example, turn off the TV and leave your smartphone in another room. Then, take the time to enjoy every bite.
7. Plan Your Meals
Planning your meals gives you something to look forward to throughout the day. It also makes it easier to mind your calories (if you are counting them) since you already know what you’ll have. Moreover, having a plan can help minimize your need to rely on restaurant meals or fast food.
When planning your meals, consider using ingredients that are easy to diversify. A perfect example is poultry meat, such as chicken, which can be your primary source of protein. It’s such a flexible ingredient that you can enjoy it in at least 80 different ways.
8. Make Them Colorful
Do you know why many restaurants use light-colored plates to serve their food?
One reason is that humans first eat with their eyes. After all, eyesight is responsible for most impressions that a person forms. Thus, light-colored plates work for this since they bring out the color of the food served in them.
Color also has a significant impact on how appealing food can be. That may help explain why rainbow-colored food is so attractive to many people.
More than being appealing, though, colorful food also usually indicates nutritiousness.
For instance, there’s chlorophyll, which is behind the greenness of vegetables. There are also anthocyanins, making fruits and veggies red, blue, purple, or black. Carotenoids are orange or red pigments, while flavanols are yellow hues.
All those four pigments are nutrients in themselves, making them essential for health. But more than that, the fruits and veggies that contain them also have vitamins and minerals. That’s why eating these colorful plant products is necessary for proper nutrition.
So, why not incorporate as many of these different colors into your daily meals as possible? Doing so can help make your dishes look more appealing and, most importantly, healthy.
9. Turn Bland Into Fab
It’s true that some people, such as those with ulcers or heartburn, can benefit from a bland diet. However, many people mistakenly think eating healthy always means eating bland, tasteless food.
Unless your doctor tells you to go on a bland diet, you can turn a tasteless meal into a fabulous one with, say, garlic.
Garlic’s slight pungency and aroma can stimulate your taste buds and olfactory senses. That can help make an otherwise tasteless meal delicious.
Moreover, garlic is nutritious, containing manganese, vitamins B6 and C, selenium, and fiber. Despite that, a single clove only has 4.5 calories and a gram of carbohydrates.
Chili peppers also provide excellent ways to spice up bland dishes. However, their heat isn’t the only reason to eat them; they also contain vitamin C or ascorbic acid. Indeed, in a study of 66 vegetables, red and green chili peppers had the most vitamin C content.
10. Mind Your H2O Intake
Water is crucial to healthy digestion because it breaks down the food you eat. As a result, it aids in the body’s absorption of nutrients.
So, if you lack water, your body won’t be able to digest, much less absorb the food you eat. That can make you feel full or bloated, affecting your meals throughout the day.
For example, if you have a stomachache, you may not want to eat even if you should. And if that happens frequently, you may end up having nutritional inadequacies.
Moreover, dehydration could be a contributing factor to anxiety and depression. Researchers are still trying to determine what exactly the connection is. But they’ve found a link between low water intake and higher anxiety or depression risks.
Also, don’t forget that water accounts for about 73% of the brain’s mass. That may help explain why dehydration can impair cognitive functions. Fortunately, rehydration seems to counter the adverse effects of water deficiency.
All that should be enough reason to drink at least half a gallon of H2O daily. However, if you sweat a lot, for example, after exercising, drink more to replenish your lost fluids.
Try These Healthy Eating Habits Today
And there you have it, your ultimate guide on the healthy eating habits you can implement ASAP. As you can see, they’re all doable today, from improving sleep to drinking more water. And if you need to shop, don’t forget to go for flexible ingredients.
Either way, practice these healthy habits as soon as you can. The sooner you do, the sooner you can enjoy living healthier.
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