The lay of the land. When shopping for food, remember that grocery stores are primarily laid out with the most healthy and nutritious foods located around the perimeter of the store. The inside
aisles are where you'll generally find foods high in fat and sodium and lower in nutrients.
Uncontrollable urges. Many unhealthy food purchases at the grocery store are frequently made on impulse. Impulse buys can occur when grocery shopping is done without a shopping list and/or you do your shopping on an empty stomach. To lessen the chances of unhealthy impulse buys, eat a nutritious snack prior to shopping and make a grocery list and stick to it!
Be natural. A good rule of thumb is to try and eat food that is as close to its "natural" state as possible. For example, steamed red potatoes are much healthier (and less expensive) than a pre-packaged "Potato Au Gratin" side dish.
The spice of life. Eat a wide variety of foods and don't be afraid to try something new! Not only will it make mealtime more exciting, you'll be able to meet your nutritional needs as well.
Follow an outline. If you need a basic food plan to follow, use the Food
Guide Pyramid, it will ensure a balanced, nutritious and healthy diet. Whatever
healthy eating plan you choose, make sure it is one that you can stick with for
the rest of your life.
Plan ahead. Many of us find it helpful to
plan meals ahead of time. This allows you to stock the kitchen with the
appropriate ingredients and prepare some of the items ahead of time. When it's
meal time, all you need to do is create the dish. There are no tempting choices
to order out or go to a restaurant—your
healthy meal is already in the works.
Make your own "fast food." We all
have those moments when we open the refrigerator and longingly stare into it,
looking for something to snack on. Those are difficult times for making healthy
food choices. Snacks are a part of a healthy lifestyle, it just takes a
little planning ahead and some food preparation. Keep fresh fruit
available, chop up some of your favorite veggies in a baggy, fill individual
serving containers with non-fat, sugar-free pudding, or make some sugar-free
gelatin with fruit. The healthy possibilities are endless!
Read the label! Unfortunately, the naming and packaging of many food items can be deceiving in terms of what you "think" you're getting. Knowing how to read and interpret the food label is the best way to ensure you're getting what you want.
Don't expect changes to happen overnight. It has taken a lifetime to acquire your current eating habits. Consequently, it will take some time to strengthen your good habits and learn additional healthy ones. Your bad eating habits will soon begin to lose their strength as you quit practicing them and they will eventually disappear.
Read, listen and learn. Nothing will solidify permanent changes in your eating habits better than educating yourself about nutrition. Your local library, magazines, and the Internet are just a few resources that you can use to gain deeper knowledge of healthful eating.
Say "No" to
deprivation. Unless specified by your doctor for medical reasons, healthy eating is not about following a rigid, pre-determined menu. Stay away from "diets" that deprive you of a well balanced diet with lots of variety.
One step at a time. Cultivating healthier eating habits can be challenging at first. However, the lifetime rewards of improved health, weight control and general well-being are worth the effort. Take one step at a time, focus on continuous improvement and never give up!