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Friday, March 15, 2013

Three Simple Secrets to Eating Healthier

Have you ever tried to eat healthier, but keep getting sidelined?

If so, you're not alone.  Millions of Americans want to eat healthier foods, but keep falling short.  It's no surprise either, as our bodies tend to release chemicals that make eating some of these foods a little similar to drug or alcohol use.

However, if you want to eat healthy, there are some tricks you simply have to know and use.

For years, people have tried to make it out like eating healthier was a matter of willpower.  The idea was that you could simply choose not to eat that Snickers bar, and that would be that.  However, it's just not that easy, as most folks have experienced.

Unfortunately, the experts often still present this as the case.  They still try to argue that you can just willpower your way through it.  Then, when you slip up, guess what happens?  You end up feeling like crap because you couldn't hold yourself back.  You feel weak, which lowers self esteem and can contribute to more unhealthy behavior.

That's been my experience at least.

Luckily, there's hope.  I lose my first 35 lbs with these tips, and it wasn't until my family steered away from these that we had problems.  Translation?  They work!

Only have healthy food in the house

The truth is, you're far more likely to slip up and eat bad foods if you can easily get your hands on bad foods.  If you replace your bad foods with healthy ones, guess what you'll grab instead?

The truth of the matter is that if you're prone to snacking, you're prone to snacking.  Thus far, there's no evidence to show snacking actually leads to weight gain.  The reason for that is because the factor that matters is what you are snacking on.

"But Tom, I've got all this stuff in the pantry already.  I don't want to waste it," you say?  Then don't waste it, donate it.  There are food banks all over the place that could use your old food to feed those that have no food.  Yes, your food may be unhealthy, but not as unhealthy as malnutrition.

Once that stuff is gone, fill your home with foods appropriate to whatever diet you're on and keep it that way.  If someone in your house refuses to diet, then try and minimize the unhealthy stuff to things you don't like.  This will help minimize your chances to slip up.  However, if possible, keep it out of the house.  A desperate person is not a pretty sight!

Avoid foods you didn't prepare

Take out is easy.  Restaurants are fun.  However, both can be very, very bad for you.  Now, that's not to say you can't go out to a restaurant and eat somewhat healthy.  You can.  Unfortunately, it can be tricky.  After all, on that menu with healthy alternatives are the more mainstream fare that has made America the land of the huge.

If you avoid foods you didn't cook, you know everything that's in it.  You know how it was handled, and you know there's nothing in it you can't pronounce.  Health means more than just losing weight, and if you're ingesting a bunch of chemicals that are better left in a science lab, you're not healthy.

In addition, if you avoid foods you didn't prepare, you also avoid the dreaded dessert menu!

Don't deprive yourself

There's something to the idea of a cheat meal.  While I don't know if there's any scientific evidence to support this, my own experiences showed that it was a lot easier to put down the chocolate cake if I knew it was an option for later.  In my mind, I wasn't sacrificing it indefinitely, but instead was holding it back for a little while.

In his book, The Paleo Diet Revised: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat, Dr. Loren Cordain lays out a plan that consists of three phases, which dictates how many cheat meals you get.  One Phase I, you get three.  That weens down to just one in Phase III.  Even if you're not going paleo, this is actually a good way to handle things.

When you deprive yourself, there's a part of your psychology that wants it.  This is the same mechanism that makes married people more attractive to the opposite sex.  People want what they can't have, and if what you can't have is that strawberry shortcake, then that's what you're going to crave.  The difference here is that you actually can have the cake.

So there you have it.  Three very simple secrets to eating healthier.  Eating better isn't exactly rocket science, but it does take planning and careful actions.  If you want to succeed, you have to plan for success, and you have to plan to make it happen.  If you do these three things, you will be successful. So, get to it!