Tips for Eating Healthy Long-term
By: Julie Kramer
Professionals have said that fitness is 20% exercise and 80% nutrition. Anyone can exercise, but until exercise is paired with a healthy nutrition program, results may not be seen. It is important to pick a nutrition program that can be made into a lifestyle change and not just a temporary diet. Below are some tips and tricks for eating healthy and sticking with it.
1. Record what you eat
Use a food tracking app to make recording easy. Apps like MyfitnessPal give calorie and macronutrient goals for each day. If eating healthy is unfamiliar (how much protein, fat, carbs or calories to eat) an app is a good place to start. If familiar with how much should be eaten, adjust the numbers in the app (or record on paper) to fit personal goals. Record what is consumed for a week and remember to record everything – condiments, toppings and drinks count, too! After a week of tracking, analyze the data. Look for abnormalities – are the same amount of calories and macronutrients being consumed each day? Adjust a weekly food plan to coincide with personal goals. After tracking becomes a habit, the app may no longer be needed to hit calorie or macro goals. It is still suggested, however, to track a day or two every month to double check goals are still being met.
2. Eat healthy 80% of the time
Cheat days or cheat meals can be included in a meal plan to mask cravings. Meal plans are more likely to fail if completely deprived of your favorite foods. It is important to not let a cheat meal or cheat day turn into cheat days or weeks. Hold yourself accountable and get back on track after a cheat meal/day. Cheat meals or cheat days may not be necessary if there is a way to make a healthy version of your favorite meal. Try a lettuce wrapped cheeseburger, cheese steak stuffed pepper or even substituting some ingredients for a lower carb, fat or calorie option. Another way to stick to an 80% healthy meal plan is to try new recipes. Pinterest is a great place to find new, healthy recipes to try.
3. Drink enough water
It is very important to keep hydrated. There is a ton of research about water consumption and still no concrete guidelines as to how much water should be consumed daily. Most of the available research have a few things in common – if thirsty then drink, be sure to drink while exercising and be sure to drink water when in the heat. Some research suggests following the 8×8 rule, meaning drink eight 8 oz glasses per day. Other research says to drink a full gallon of water each day and some say to drink a half gallon (64oz) per 50 pounds of bodyweight. Try some of the recommendations and stick with whichever fits your lifestyle without leaving you feeling thirsty or full from drinking too much.
4. Meal plan for the week
Before going to the grocery store, make a list of meals for the week. Turn that list into a grocery list and only buy what is on the list once in the store. It is much easier to buy healthy in the grocery store when shopping from a list. Pre planning can cut down on the time spent in the grocery store, money spent and food wasted. When a weekly meal plan is in place, it is easier to stick with the plan versus going out to eat or making something quick that tends to be less healthy.
Remember, fitness is achieved both by staying active and eating healthy. Try recording what you eat, eating healthy 80% of the time, drinking enough water and meal planning to see the results you are looking for!