Confused about what exactly is “healthy” eating? Some experts may ask you to eat certain foods, while some others may suggest the complete opposite. But, know that healthy eating is not just about following a strict diet or depriving yourself of food. These practices might just end up making you crave more for the unhealthy treats or take you on an emotional rollercoaster.
The only way to fix this is to follow a balanced diet and practice at least some basic exercises so that your body works in harmony with your mind. Here are 5 tricks to ensure that you are eating healthy.
1. Drink Water Before Each Meal
Drinking water before a meal can do more than just help you stay hydrated. It gives you a fuller feeling, helping you eat less, and supports the absorption of nutrients. A study conducted in Birmingham, England, found that obese participants who drank 500 ml of water before their meals experienced moderate weight loss when compared to those who went without water.1
Do not think that any liquid will help here. Replacing water with carbonated drinks and sugary won’t have the same effect on your body and might introduce other health problems.
2. Catch Up On Some Sleep
Insufficient sleep can mess with your energy levels and mood the next day and even lead to various heart problems in the long term.2 According to studies, sleep deprivation is associated with poor appetite regulation as it causes the appetite hormones to fluctuate.
An average adult requires about 7–9 hours of sound sleep every night.3 So, start going to bed early at night to avoid the midnight binges. Setting up a fixed sleep routine can help you regulate your calorie intake and thereby maintain a healthy weight.
3. Eat Small Meals
Do you gobble up an entire sandwich when you are running late? The lack of time may make you want to eat everything in sight to avoid being hungry in the later hours. But unfortunately, this is where you go wrong, even if you are eating healthy.
Eating big portions in one sitting not only makes you lazy and sluggish but also gives your brain a signal that there won’t be food available anytime soon. So, the calories are stored as fat. On the other hand, if you eat small portions throughout the day, your body will burn the calories.4 Eat less, often, to keep your energy levels going high without making you put on weight.
4. Enjoy Your Cheat Meal
Eating healthy is not about being hard on yourself. However important it may be to eat healthily, it is also necessary to satisfy your cravings from time to time but in a controlled manner. Slipping in a cheat meal once in a while is not going to reverse all your hard work in one day! This helps you avoid the hunger and deprivation you might experience on seeing a cake, which you cannot eat.
Save yourself the struggle and plan out the days when you would love to have your comfort food. Sometimes, not having the food you like can negatively affect your mood.
5. Know What To Eat
You don’t have to eat a plate full of fruits and veggies every day. Protein also plays a vital role in a diet. Not only does it give you energy but also slows digestion and keeps your blood sugar steady, keeping your cravings at bay.5 On the other hand, when you eat carbs or sugars, your body digests it easily. This is the reason why your hunger is satisfied only temporarily when you eat pasta, white bread, or sugary beverages. Choose protein sources like fish as it contains several other vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to the human body.
In addition to these eating tricks, exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight. You don’t have to go to the gym for this — just walking, stretching, and running every single day can be good enough.
|↑1||Parretti, Helen M., Paul Aveyard, Andrew Blannin, Susan J. Clifford, Sarah J. Coleman, Andrea Roalfe, and Amanda J. Daley. “Efficacy of water preloading before main meals as a strategy for weight loss in primary care patients with obesity: RCT.” Obesity 23, no. 9 (2015): 1785-1791.|
|↑2||Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.|
|↑3||How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?. National Sleep Foundation.|
|↑4||Jon Schoenfeld, Brad, Alan Albert Aragon, and James W. Krieger. “Effects of meal frequency on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis.” Nutrition reviews 73, no. 2 (2015): 69-82.|
|↑5||Paddon-Jones, Douglas, Eric Westman, Richard D. Mattes, Robert R. Wolfe, Arne Astrup, and Margriet Westerterp-Plantenga. “Protein, weight management, and satiety.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 87, no. 5 (2008): 1558S-1561S.|