Leon Harris is a contributing writer for Diet Direct. Harris lives in Southern California, and enjoys eating healthy and exercising with his two Golden Retrievers.
There’s a trick to eating healthy, in case you didn’t know, but it can’t be a once-in-a-while activity. I’m not talking about these fads that make you cut entire food groups out of your diet; I’m talking about a balanced diet that provides your body with all the nutrients you need, helps you to make smarter choices that are still satisfying, provides you with the proper portion size for your body and doesn’t make you feel guilty about having some extras here and there. In short, I’m talking about a healthy diet for life.
The trick to eating healthy isn’t religious adherence to a wildly restrictive diet, although some people certainly try to pull it off, and even succeed for several years at a time. You just don’t need to go to these extremes. What you should do is learn all you can about creating a diet that provides you with what you need, sans all the extras that permeate modern eating, such as an over-abundance of sugar, fat, sodium, and preservatives, just for example. And it all starts with finding a few go-to recipes that you can stick with and build off of, learning to love healthy eating along the way. Here are some ideas to get you going.
A good place to start is by modifying the unhealthy recipes you already love. Pizza, for example, can provide you with tons of options for more nutritious fare. You might want to start by making your own at home, where you can control the portion size and all of the ingredients. There are tons of easy dough recipes to be found online, including options for lower-calorie thin crust. From there you can create personal pizzas to limit the amount you eat. Then it’s just a matter of adding fresh, healthy ingredients in moderation, including sauce, cheese, meats, veggies, and even fruit. Obviously the healthiest options include low-fat cheese (in small doses) and a variety of vegetables, but so long as you’re paying attention to what you add and how much and you control the portion size, you can turn this perennial calorie-fest into a healthy meal.
Of course, you should also be willing to try new things. For example, many people who love milkshakes can easily switch to healthier fare like smoothies. And from there it’s simple enough to start working in your daily dose of roughage via a green monster recipe. You’ll start with your liquid, be it water, milk, juice (preferably natural, as in no sugar added), soy milk, or coconut water, just to name a few. Then you’ll throw in your favorite fruits (bananas, oranges, berries, etc.). From there you simply add 1-2 handfuls of spinach, kale, or other leafy greens and blend thoroughly to eradicate chunks. And you can rival the best protein bar by adding protein powder or Greek yogurt, just for example.
It’s not easy to make the switch to healthier eating habits, especially if your traditional diet consists of fast food and prepackaged items. But if you want to lose weight, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, stave off conditions like diabetes and heart disease, or simply look and feel better, you might be looking for easy ways to incorporate healthier dietary options. And there are plenty of ways to modify the recipes you already love or substitute healthy but still satisfying foods for the high-calorie consumables that currently fill your fridge, so long as you’re willing to do a little research.
Thanks so much for the submission, Leon. It really is important to find things that aren’t just healthy, but that taste yummy too!
My Healthy Tip of the Day: Don’t be afraid to load your boring salad up with lots of healthy treats, such as walnuts, feta cheese, dried cranberries and other good-for-you treats. My favorite combination is a spinach salad with feta, strawberries, almonds and a light vinaigrette dressing.