- Load up on fruits and vegetables
Strive for a minimum of 5 servings/day and go for color. Dark leafy greens, and vibrant colors pack a nutritional boost. Maximize your intake by choosing a variety and don’t shy away from different forms if it suits your budget. Fresh, frozen, canned, and dried all count. If your produce typically goes bad before you have time to cut it, buy it pre-cut. It’s worth the extra money it if it means you will eat more of it. Add them to: soups, casseroles, smoothies and sandwiches to boost your intake.
- Don’t skip meals
Skipping a meal will only create overeating at your next sitting. Avoid this by being prepared with grab and go items if time is of the essence. If there’s no time for breakfast in the morning, be sure to grab a granola bar, smoothie, or whole grain muffin.
- Be prepared
Make a commitment to being better organized and have healthier options on hand. Purchase pre-packaged snack items like trail and seed mixes, unsweetened cereals, and fruit. Building a healthy pantry filled with items for easy meal prep is also recommended.
- Eat at home more often
If fast food is a reality for your busy lifestyle, try to limit it to once/week. Aim for items that are baked, roasted, or grilled over fried choices and watch your sides. Salads and baked potatoes have far less fat and calories than French fries.
- Think about snacking
Snacking, especially mid-afternoon can have a significant impact on overeating at meal time. Avoid going through long stretches with no food by eating a small, protein rich snack. Good examples include: low fat cheese and whole grain crackers, trail mixes, Greek yogurts and fruit.
- Avoid mindless eating
Don’t eat unless you’re hungry and stop when you are full. Easier said than done for so many of us unfortunately. If mindless eating is an issue for you, work on identifying your specific triggers. Is it the food commercials at night on tv? Is it boredom? Habit? Depression? Work on the behaviors that precipitate mindless eating to curb the habit.
If you are truly hungry, give yourself permission to eat but do it in a thoughtful way. Portion out a reasonable snack and sit at a table focusing on nothing else but eating.
- Get smart at restaurants
Eating out often results in overeating. Portion sizes tend to be huge so order an appetizer as your main meal or share an entree. Ideally, don’t walk into a restaurant starving but if you do, start with a soup or salad. These fillers will curb your appetite and prevent overeating. Also, pass on the chips or bread. These are extras that you really don’t need.
- Cook in big batches
When you do have time to prepare a healthier meal, cook double what you need and freeze half. That way you will have meals to heat up when you need them.
- Stay hydrated
Be sure to keep a water bottle on hand all day long. Strive for 8 cups per day or more if you’re active or in very warm temperatures. Always opt for water over sugar sweetened beverages which add a lot of extra sugar. One soda a day adds 8 tsp of sugar. These calories add up over time. If water isn’t your thing, add lemon, cucumber, lime or a low-calorie sweetener to give it a kick.
- Be accountable
Changing dietary habits takes time and commitment. Be realistic with yourself and commit to changing one thing at a time. Slow gains are far more likely to be long lasting.
In the meantime, keep a food journal, download an app and get your friends on board for support. Set a realistic goal and treat yourself when you reach it. You earned it!