Check out a few of the more popular healthy lifestyle blogs online and you’ll be hit with an avalanche of “Why You Need to..” and “5 Reasons You Must…”
There always seems to be a new superfood, diet plan, or study that’s supposed to completely change how you eat.
Honestly, it’s tiring and overwhelming.
If you’re like me, you’re devoted to other things in your life: your craft, your job, your family, kids, a passion project. It mostly comes down to the work you do each and every day and the people in your life, but whatever that looks like, they’re the things you want to spend the majority of your time devoted to.
But you want to remain healthy enough to enjoy those things which are most important to you — to continue to be able to run around, take trips, and generally be active — so you need to make some effort to stay healthy so you can give the best of yourself each day to what matters.
Fortunately, there are ways to eat healthier with less effort, simple tricks and practices that don’t require you to adopt an entirely new diet or do something else unrealistic.
Healthy eating isn’t supposed to be about self-denial; it’s not a punishment.
– Ella Woodward
Here are five ways to eat healthier with less effort.
1. Keep junk food out of sight when possible
One of the most important principles to keep in mind when it comes to eating healthy is that your environment makes all the difference — and you can shape your environment however you see fit.
The first way that principle can be used to make healthy eating easier is by keeping junk food out of sight. The human brain tends towards the thing which is easiest in any given moment. Think of it as a natural pull, like gravity.
The harder you make getting to those unhealthy foods the less likely you’ll be to grab them in your moment of weakness.
This might sound simplistic, but it’s true. Even the slightest bit of added resistance can make a difference, so take those Oreos on the counter and stuff them in the back of the top cabinet, hide the ice cream behind the ice box in the freezer, and put the alcohol in the back of the bottom-most shelf.
2. Make healthy foods easier to get to
Similarly, aside from just keeping unhealthy foods out of sight, if you can make healthy foods easier to get to than your unhealthy foods you’ll be more likely to pick up the healthy items when it comes meal or snack time.
For example, keeping fresh fruit and veggies on your table or countertop and all other less healthy snacks on the top of a back shelf (if you have nowhere to hide them away).
And, when you open your fridge, having fresh juices, produce, and generally more whole foods towards the top and at the front of the lower rows while placing sweets and fatty foods further back (again, if not hidden completely).
3. Keep water on-hand in a canteen
It’s tough to remember to drink enough water, but it’s so important.
The body needs water for countless processes including passing the nutrients you absorb from food throughout the body. So, it doesn’t mean much if you’re eating healthy but not drinking enough water at the same time. Especially if you’re working out regularly.
And while you might be hydrating yourself somewhat well each day, you’re likely to be doing that with high-calorie drinks such as soda and juice, meaning you’re adding needless calories every time you go to quench your thirst, which is arguably just as bad.
So, go to your local store, buy a BPA-free water bottle or canteen, and make a goal to drink and refill it roughly four times per day (most hold about two cups worth, which equals eight total cups per day, the average recommended daily intake).
Having that canteen nearby serves as an effective, constant reminder to drink water and that will not only ensure you’re staying hydrated but steer you away from high-calorie drinks. And it will do that with very little extra effort on your part, you just have to remember to keep in on you.
4. Drink alcohol and sugary drinks from tall, slender glasses
A Cornell University study investigated the average person’s perception of different glass shapes and how that affects our drinking habits.
They found that the average person tends to misbelieve that a tall, slender glass has more liquid than a shorter, wider glass with equal liquid (even smaller, as was the case in the study).
But the real important part of the study is that it found because we believe we’re consuming more by drinking a taller and more slender glass, we end up drinking less.
When it comes to drinks we consume as much for pleasure as anything else, including alcohol and soda, and what we really want is satisfaction. By changing your glass shape you can get that same satisfaction while drinking less without any extra effort.
5. Eat on smaller plates
Cornell University professor Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating, and his team studied how different plate sizes affected how much participants would eat.
They found that serving the same portion size on even a slightly smaller plate — the study compared the difference between ten-inch and twelve-inch plates — made participants eat more than twenty percent less.
The primary reason, Wansink concluded, was due to our perception of the food on the plate. The more empty space on the plate the less food we believed there was on the plate, even if the plate was slightly larger.
Even a smaller serving size on a smaller plate made the same serving appear larger in comparison and resulted in participants being more satisfied with their meal, even though they were technically eating less.
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