12 Tips to Maintain a Healthy Diet
I’m all about finding ways to have my cake and eat it too. Life is too short to live in deprivation, however life is also too short to live in a less-than-healthy body with low energy. Life must be truly lived and enjoyed to the fullest. To do that, you have to strike the right balance between being fit and indulging a little.
Here the 12 tips that help my clients and me to stay on track and in shape - (while still enjoying some occasional cake):
1. Eat More
I call it the secret "Volumetrics." Instead of fasting, or not eating all day or night, fill yourself up on high fiber and high water content foods like fruits and veggies. This will not only keep you from starving or succumbing to the late afternoon munchies, it can also help keep your metabolism revved up all day long. Don't lose sight of the fact that food is essential fuel for your body. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains form the basis of a healthy diet. Remember, you want to be healthy and perhaps lose weight, but you don't want to develop nutritional deficiencies - which by the way,are much more common that you'd think.
2. Cut Out Caloric Condiments
There is nothing more frustrating than realizing many salads actually contain more fat and calories than a burger and fries. No wonder the numbers on the scale aren't going down! Be mindful of salad dressings and condiments like mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, and even ketchup, which can pack far more calories, sugar and even sodium than you would image. To err on the side of safety, always check the nutrition facts to truly know what you are putting into your body.
3. Don’t Drink Your Calories
That morning Frappuccino could actually be packing more than a meal's worth of fat and calories without any solid nutrition or substance. I recommend keeping your drinks as clean and simple as possible. If coffee is good, you don't need all the extra creamers and sugars in it. Acquire a taste for drinking it black or with just a splash of milk. Just think about it, swapping out just two caramel Frappuccinos will save you over 1000 calories a week!
4. Remind Yourself of Your Goals
Keep your eyes on the mark. Whether it means putting a picture of your dream swimsuit body on your bathroom mirror or hanging up your skinny pants where you can see them - keep your goals top of mind. This will strengthen your commitment and motivation.
5. Party Smart
Bring healthy dishes you can eat to parties and potlucks. Going to a big party? Offer to bring a veggie or fruit platter. This way you know you'll have something healthy to munch on or fill half your plate with.
6. Never Skip a Meal
Don't fall victim to the mistaken thinking that if you are having a big dinner or special lunch you should skip the meal prior. Doing so will increase the chance that you will overeat on your next meal. Starving also wreaks havoc on your ability to make clear healthy decisions. When you are hungry you'll be more likely to crave heavy carbs and fatty foods.
7. Give Yourself a Daily Splurge
If you try to be extreme and stick to an unrealistic strict and boring diet, you are setting yourself up for failure. You need to figure out what works best for you and your body. For example, I have no trouble saying no to dessert and treats during the day, knowing that I can splurge on dessert at dinner. I tell everyone that they should allocate 200 calories per day to spend on whatever they want. That means if you want a small frozen yogurt, you should have it. If you want to save those cheat 200 calories for a night out or an extra glass of wine, you can.
8. Get Enough Sleep
Not getting enough quality sleep is one of the worst enemies to a healthy diet. Lost sleep causes you to become more hungry and less motivated. A good night's sleep benefits you both mentally and physically — from helping you maintain good insulin sensitivity to a better functioning immune system. Check these 10 surprising tips to ensure you get a good night's sleep.
10 Surprising Steps to a Good Night's Sleep
9. Make Healthy Swaps
This is perhaps one of my best tips to stay on a healthy diet. Making simple ingredient substitutions in recipes will allow you to enjoy so much diversity without having to give up your favorite recipes. It's easy to swap ingredients in most baking recipes, smoothies, and anything that requires cheese, sauce, dressing or cream. For example, I use fat-free Greek Yogurt to replace everything from Cream Cheese and Sour Cream to Ricotta Cheese and Salad Dressing. Here's my list of favorite swaps.
10. Eat Good Fats
Don’t forget to keep good fats in your diet. Your body needs the fatty acids, and your glowing skin and hair depend on it. Going fat-free is not always smartest and healthiest option. For example, I opt for 2% milk versus skim to you get some good fat and more flavor. Here's a list of 18 fat-rich foods that are goof for you.
11. Track Your Food
Commit to write down or tracking on an app such as MyPlate what you eat in detail within 15 minutes of your meal. This may sound tedious, but the benefits will become quickly evident. Knowing you need to record that one bite of cheesecake increases your ability to stick with your daily food and calorie goals. You can either write it down with old-school pen and paper or you can use a free tracking app like Livestrong.com's MyPlate.
12. Add Some Bubbles
For all my drinks - whether alcoholic or fruity — I dilute them with sparkling water. You'll get more drink for less sugar, and you'll likely drink fewer calories.
The Berry Pick-Me-Up
This is my favorite in-between-meals and on-the-go energizing snack.
1 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
1 cup unsweetened frozen berries
In a blender, combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth.
Readers - What is the most challenging part of eating healthy for you? What tricks do you use to stay on track and in shape? Leave a comment below and let us know your secrets for staying on a healthy diet.
Amanda Russell is a top-rated fitness and lifestyle writer, professional keynote speaker, Olympic-trained athlete, model, spokeswoman, founder of FitStrongandSexy.com and one of the industry’s leading experts in fitness, wellness and change. Amanda has her own professional online workout channel and talk show. She can be found writing about life, fitness, wellness and change on her website: www.amanda-russell.com. To watch Amanda's show, visit AmandaRussell.TV. She was recently named as one of Google’s “Next Top Fitness Trainer’s in 2012.”