“Healthy eating is a way of life, so it’s important to establish routines that are simple, realistically, and ultimately liveable.” ~ Horace
Let’s face facts. Major overhauls usually fail. And while we all want results, who wants to radically change their lifestyle for the perfect beach body? Frankly, I prefer a margarita, a taco, or a bowl of chips and salsa (Tex-Mex is a weakness) too often to ever have a perfect body—whatever that is.
I do however want to be healthy. I want to enjoy Happy Hour with friends. I want to indulge in street tacos on a Saturday afternoon. I want to LIVE this “Life Explored.” So, here are five simple steps to healthier nutrition I have pulled together that help me strike a balance. Little changes usually stick after all. Pick and choose. Start with one. I never do these all at once. The idea is that we do something good for our bodies without starving our souls of the enjoyment of food and drink and fellowship with friends.
Amp Up Water
Those that that know me know my penchant for a cold Diet Coke – even at 5AM or at 10PM. It’s a habit that ebbs and flows with stress and/or extra time on my hands. I have been trying to carry a water bottle with me everywhere I go. Nowadays, it’s the only thing I typically drink between morning caffeine and the occasional evening cocktail. Until recently, I always thought I was drinking water throughout the day. It wasn’t until I started tracking my water intake on my phone that I realized I really wasn’t drinking as much water as I thought I was. You’ve got to do more than carry water with you—you’ve got to drink it all day, too!
How much water do you need each day? Take the number on the scale and divide it by two. As a general rule, that’s how many ounces of water your body requires daily. For example, a person weighing 160 pounds should drink about 80 ounces of water a day.
Three recommendations to get it all in:
If you enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine at the end of the day, you don’t have to cut that out completely in order to see benefits from timing and/or curbing your imbibing pleasure. Check out these three little tips to see what I mean.
Three little tips to cut calories and improve sleep *BONUS*:
- Limit your weeknight drinks to one for women, or two for men, and try and cut them to only a couple of evenings per week.
- Consider Happy Hour cocktails versus bedtime Night Caps. Reducing alcohol intake three hours before bedtime gets you significantly better restorative sleep.
- Try zero calorie or low calorie mixers. You can mix Topo Chico with a flavor-infused vodka, or shake up coconut water with light rum and lime.
Close the Kitchen
What if you decide that after 7PM or 8PM, no more snacking—even as a trial experiment for a few weeks? Cutting the extra calorie intake and the late night snacks will benefit your body.
Three benefits to closing the kitchen:
- Better sleep because your body isn’t working on digestion.
- Less inflammation because your body can restore itself more efficiently.
- Lower calorie intake, especially ones of zero nutritional value like high-carb and sugary snacks we tend to reach for at night.
You can find even more benefits in this article on bustle.com.
Skip the Bread
It doesn’t have to be forever. Just give it a try and see how your body responds.
Three benefits from eliminating bread (and/or carbs):
- Cutting carbs promotes quick weight loss.
- Cleaner diets (without so much processed food, like dinner rolls, bagels, croissants, doughnuts—okay, I’ll stop) reduces brain fog and increases memory function and mental alertness.
- Eliminating fillers before a meal increases your appetite for better, more wholesome foods.
Here’s one person’s experience when she stopped eating bread for one month: What Happens When You Stop Eating Bread
Add Some Color
Healthier nutrition always includes more vegetables (and fruits). Walk leisurely through the produce department with your eyes open and head up. Allow yourself to veer from your shopping list in this section of the store or farmer’s market. Adding color to your plate adds variety to your palette, a larger range of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, and ideally less sugar and carb snacks if you replace them with carrots, grapes, and mandarin oranges.
Three questions you can answer to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet:
- What’s in season?
- What’s something I haven’t tried before?
- How many colors can I add to my cart?
Remember, pick one healthier nutrition hack that resonates with you. Start somewhere; do something good for yourself; and see what happens. And, please share. Share your results! Share this article! Share your ideas! Share what is working for you!
And by all means, share the margaritas and the tacos.
*No content in this article is intended to be interpreted as medical advice. Please consult with your physician if you are considering changes to your health and nutrition.