Do you practice healthy eating habits? Many of us think that we do.
However, when you wake up each morning and look in the mirror, do you see the best version of your body? For your age, is your body in shape and able to let you do the things you love? Would having your ideal body give you more confidence, energy, mobility and happiness?
Recent scientific discoveries may provide ideas to refine your eating habits. Are you willing to make these small, sustainable changes to achieve a healthier life? If so, read on.
11 Healthy Eating Habits to Achieve Your Ideal Body
- Prioritize 7-9 hours of consistent quality sleep. Rest allows your body to process information, make better decisions, and regulate hunger hormones. Without proper sleep, it is hard to resist impulsivity, hunger and cravings.
- Shift focus from body weight to body fat percentage. Instead of solely focusing on body weight, use a digital scale to measure your body fat percentage. This provides a more accurate reflection of your body composition. Set your goal to be on the low side of the target range for your age and gender to avoid nasty health risks.
- Cultivate a healthy microbiome. If you are obese, your body likely contains trillions of stomach bacteria which crave sugar and simple carbohydrates. Those bacteria signal your brain to seek out and eat what the bacteria want. Don’t let the bacteria win! Changing your diet will kill them off and reduce their influence on your daily behavior. A healthy microbiome protects you against obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
- Limit eating times. Aim to eat only within a 6-10 hour daytime window, such as 10 AM to 6 PM. This provides health benefits through intermittent fasting. Also, consistent mealtimes aid digestion because your metabolic cells anticipate and prepare ahead of your eating schedule. When you don’t eat when your cells expect you to, it stresses your body.
- Reduce meals per week. If you are above your desired body fat percentage, what meals are you willing to give up until you reach your goal? For example, some people shift from 3 to 2 meals per day, eating a late breakfast and an early dinner. If that doesn’t work for you, just skip any meals where you aren’t feeling hungry beforehand. 21 meals per week is outdated thinking.
- Drink instead of snack. Sometimes, hunger sensations are actually thirst. Grab a glass of water or a cup of healthy tea or coffee. Follow caffeine limit guidelines to avoid excessive stimulation. If you are going to drink alcohol, limit it to one glass per day, although even that impacts your memory.
- Go to the Mediterranean. Limit your grocery shopping to a delicious, heart-healthy, Mediterranean diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Swap sugary snacks, chips and other processed foods with the natural sweetness and goodness of fresh honeydew melon, cantaloupe, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apples, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. (For avoidance of doubt, drinking fruit juice should be avoided as the concentrated sugar and calories can increase body fat.)
- Recognize and rid your kitchen of unhealthy foods. We’ve all been taught not to waste food. However, the first time you put sugar into the waste basket instead of your own waist, you will likely feel good about it. It is the first step in achieving the new you. If it helps, think of unhealthy foods as slow-acting poison. Would you keep poison in your refrigerator or food cabinets? Would you feed it to your friends?
- Keep a couple favorites. If you can’t do without your favorite unhealthy foods, moderate yourself to very small portions as rewards for achieving your goals. Do you really taste anything more than the first few bites of what you are eating? Focus on those. Skip the rest.
- Never overeat. Be mindful and limit your portion sizes in social situations, at restaurants and on holidays. Studies show that people are prone to overeat when around others. Keep a mindset that there are no cheat-days or cheat-meals. Moderation should be a consistent practice. Besides, overeating never feels good afterwards!
- Embrace the journey. Rapid changes and extreme restrictions are not sustainable. Embrace the journey towards healthier eating as a gradual and enjoyable process. Celebrate small victories and learn from setbacks without being overly critical.
The good news is that once you’ve practiced disciplined healthy eating habits for just a few days, your cravings subside along with unwanted body fat. Achieving your ideal body should be a journey of self-love, self-discovery, and nourishment. By building healthy eating habits and being patient with yourself, you’ll experience long-lasting benefits, including increased energy, better mobility, improved confidence and a happier life.
Now, go to your kitchen and throw something unhealthy into the wastebasket. Shift your mindset and look forward to seeing your new body in the mirror each morning as your reward.