Your Food Habits & You: Tips & Tricks to a Healthier Lifestyle

Your Food Habits & You: Tips & Tricks to a Healthier Lifestyle

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Changing your diet always involves a change in your lifestyle. Once you have decided to finally give your health serious attention, you should be prepared to make a lot of changes in your daily habits.

Surprisingly, there are certain habits that you may not be aware of which are harmful to your health. Understanding these habits and learning how to change them can be difficult, but only in the beginning. The key is to identify what you can do better and how to turn those things around by doing simple yet effective changes to your diet and lifestyle.

Here are some habits that will support the healthier lifestyle you are looking for.

Toss the Junk

Toss unhealthy Junk foods as they have plenty of calories but lack real nutrients. if your cleaning out your fridge (and you should) don't forget to do the same sweep in your freezer. The list of edible garbage includes most processed foods like potato chips, candy, cookies, pastries and other convenience foods like pop tarts and pizza pops. These types of food can sit in the cupboards for over two weeks, which is a pretty decent indication of questionable ingredients. By reading the nutrition label and the ingredients list you will easily be able to spot junk food.

Essential Prep Tips

Targeting Your New Lifestyle

Discovering what your body needs and changing your habits to meet those needs is what lifestyle change is all about. Whatever type of diet you are doing, it’s important to find out what you should be tracking. Always make sure that you do the reading and that you know what you are expected to do on your chosen diet.

If you're on a Keto and Zone diet you should be tracking your macronutrients.

Making Shopping Lists

Make a shopping list every time you are going to the store or market. Besides giving you another chance to evaluate an item’s nutritive value before it makes it through the checkout and into your home, it will also help to curb those instant cravings of those last-minute impulsive additions.

Your shopping list can allow you to evaluate the kind of food you already have and find anything that should be replaced with a healthier alternative.

Eat Before You Shop

This will help you keep cravings at bay as well as reduce impulse buying. When you go shopping on an empty stomach, you may end up buying less-than-healthy foods. Your thoughts may be controlled by hunger which can make you want to buy items that won't help you long term because your instincts are focused on survival.

Eat Before you Shop!

Fighting against your own bodies survival instinct is not a successful habit.

Grocery Shopping

Reading Labels / Nutritional Breakdown

When buying food items, make it a habit to read the labels and the nutritional breakdowns. You can start with the item’s serving information found at the top of the label. Look for details such as the size of a single serving as well as the total number of servings in every pack or container. Other things that you need to check include total calories per serving, nutrients, the percent Daily Value (DV), the daily recommended amount, Nutrition Facts panel, and ingredients list.

Keep An Eye Out For These Words

“Some buzzwords that are helpful to learn include sugar, sodium, saturated and trans fats. These buzzwords have numerous monikers that you should be aware of.”

Additionally, choose products that have recognizable ingredients and pronounceable ingredients. Normally these lists are organized in descending order, by volume and by weight. Focus on those ingredients that come first in the list but don’t forget to go further down as well.

Sugar can appear as molasses, honey, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, high fructose corn syrup, sugar and some ose-ending words (galactose, maltose, fructose, glucose).

Sodium can be expressed as sodium benzoate, monosodium glutamate, baking soda, brine, and salt.

Meanwhile fat can be disguised as shortening, tallow, partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils, and lard.

Reading Ingredients

The less ingredients, the better. Be on the lookout for foods that have a lot of unfamiliar and hard to pronounce words. You should select whole foods which are the product of nature, not the ones that are a product of industry. Buying your bread from a local bakery can help you avoid added sugar as well as a huge lineup of ingredients that are potentially harmful.

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How to Avoid Being Fooled by Packaging

Labels such as sugar-free, natural, and low-fat may sound good and healthy. In reality, however, these labels can be used to distract you from the actual harm those “healthy” products are doing to your body.

Being sugar-free means that the product may be loaded with artificial sweeteners (Equal, Splenda, etc.) which have almost no calories or nutritive value. This type of product will leave you feeling unsatisfied as compared to products that have natural sugars. As a result, your body’s calorie expectation is not met and therefore your body will continue to seek more food.

Does the word “natural” sound healthy to you? Products are labelled as “natural” only because the food and beverage companies are allowed to do so. However, while the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) does have guidelines to qualify foods as “Natural” they are only able to limit invasive processing and modifications. When buying products labelled as “natural,” it’s important to understand that this isn’t much more than very good marketing.

Low-fat products are usually seen as the better choice. However, they are full of additives such as sugars and sodium. Companies use these additives to fill the void left by fat, which happens when they lower the fat content. Aside from the numerous hard to pronounce names you will ingest instead of fat, it’s important to note that not all fat is evil.

Other front-of-the-box claims to be wary includes zero trans fats, low-sodium, high fibre, zero-”anything” labels, as these are completely made up by marketing companies.

When in doubt do an online research to learn more about an item and how it is made. I suggest looking into anything you feel concerned about when it comes to changing your lifestyle. “Increasing my knowledge harmed me” said no one ever.

Whole Foods vs. Processed Foods

If you can’t grow it in a garden or raise it in a field then it’s been processed. I have never seen the wild herds of Cheesecake roaming nor the schools of burritos swimming upstream.

What is Processed Food & How to Avoid it

While it is true that not all processed foods are deemed unhealthy, there are some that are said to contain high levels of sugar, salt and fat. Food that has been altered or has gone through processing such as baking, canning, freezing and drying are often found to have increased preservatives or additives to get through those processes. A good example of a food product containing additives for processing is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is a common additive for high levels of processing.

"When doing your groceries, avoid wandering down the store’s inside aisles that usually hold the most processed junk foods. Instead, practice “perimeter shopping” since most of the store’s fresh produce, grains, meats, dairy products are found on the perimeter."

Avoid Supermarket Meats & Why

The vast majority of supermarket meats came from livestock that was raised on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), also known as “factory farms.” These are animals that were forced to live in cramped quarters and given antibiotics, hormones, deworming medication, growth-promoting drugs, and other medicines so they could reach their slaughter weight quickly without getting too sick.

According to a recent USDA Inspector General Report

Beef sold to the public was found to be contaminated with 211 different drug residues, and if you think our Canadian herds are much cleaner - think again.

Ingesting these residues cannot be considered healthy, no matter the quantity. Purchasing locally grown foods from a farm that is transparent in their growing techniques is the surest way to be safe and contribute to a better environment. There’s also usually a selection of properly fed meat and pesticide-free produce that you can find at the market.

Lastly, you can be sure that you’re buying and eating fresh food as opposed to supermarket produce which is usually transported within 2,000 kms from the farm. The use of red food dye in refrigerated displays, as well as any additional sprays or coating that can be applied to produce, shows just how important it is to be the one keeping an eye on your own health.

Buy Variety (Foods and Colours)

There are a lot of functional foods that can be recognized and grouped together based on their colour. They have dietary components which can provide health benefits in addition to basic nutrition. It is recommended to include a variety of fruit and vegetable in one’s diet to lower the risk for some diseases. You can add fruits or vegetables to cereal, casseroles, sandwiches, and more. Always include fruits and vegetables in planning your meals and when you’re eating out.

Avoid Liquid Calories

Be wary of drinks that are packed full of sugars, artificial sweeteners, addictive chemicals, preservatives, and unhealthy additives. Soft Drinks like Colas are usually high in carbohydrates which the body converts to stored fat. These include soft drinks, diet soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit juice, beer, wine, and mixed drinks.

When eating out, you need to be conscious of what you eat and drink. You can never go wrong with water. But if you prefer tea or other beverages, choose the ones that are unsweetened or have no added sugars.

Tips for General Health

Slow Down When Eating

There are many benefits to slow eating. Apart from helping in the digestion, eating slowly results in easier weight loss or weight maintenance, better hydration and more satisfaction with our meals. Eating slowly also gives your body enough time to realize that you are full which prevents you from the danger of overeating and ingesting more calories.

Drink A Lot of Water

By drinking water, you can increase the number of calories you can burn which is also known as resting energy expenditure. A good time to drink is right before eating since water can suppress appetite.

Replace sodas, juice and other calorie-filled drinks with water. Follow the “8x8” rule that is recommended by nutritionists if you intend to lose weight by drinking water. According to the rule, you should drink an eight-ounce glass of water eight times every day to lose weight as well as to maintain an ideal weight.

You can drink more or less this number depending on factors such as whether you exercise a lot, you sweat heavily or if you also drink herbal teas and other beverages.

Don’t Wait to Eat Until You are Starving

One good strategy for losing weight is by eating even before you recognize that you are hungry. Overeating and entering ketosis can result from going too long between meals. You can prevent this by having regular meals and small healthy snacks. These include raw veggies, turkey slices, raw nuts and hummus. Remember that the human body should get nutrition every 3 to 5 hours in order to avoid hangry and cranky moods, metabolism slowdowns, cravings, and energy dips. Additionally, If you wait to eat until you are starving then it’s highly likely you will be eating too fast, which is bad for your stomach and colon.

Don’t Overstuff Yourself at Meals

Go for smaller servings or learn how to eat in portion. If you’re dining with family and friends, divide and share a main dish or entrée. Use small plates to easily measure a small serving.

Pay attention to your tummy. Know the difference between whether you’re eating because you are enjoying the food or you are genuinely hungry. Identify your spot on the hunger scale to help you decide what you should do before the meal, in mid-meal and after the meal. You can also do this when you make pauses and breathe between bites.

Leaving a Diet

Often people will end a diet and have no plan moving forward which can lead to eating like you did before the diet. Is the non-diet working any better for you now?

Have a plan on how to re-introduce the eliminations slowly and checking if the re-introduced amounts are still in line with your goals. Just because one diet and change didn't work does not mean that the goal is dead in the water.

Reintroduce the healthier versions of things first. Go slow, start with whole grains, beans and fruits instead of jumping right to cakes, pasta and white bread. By reducing the speed at which you reintroduce your previous eliminations, it will help you avoid stomach distress like constipation and diarrhea and any additional yo-yo effects of the sweeping body change.

No matter what diet you decide to try, or what your body goals are - tracking your progress is the tool that all diets use. When your diet doesn’t work, don’t toss the baby out with the bathwater - keep tracking your progress and change up your tactics.

When leaving your diet change to a health maintenance lifestyle instead of counting a loss. If you can focus on your default health settings, all your progress improves, not just when you’re on your next miracle diet.

About the Author

With over 10 years of providing detailed articles with a strong SEO background in the online market, Addison Jackel has sharpened his experience with his passion for Health and Nutrition. Providing A - Z content management, his editorial expertise has driven social conversations and created communities centred on his clients’ core values. In over a decade of elevating engagement to accomplish his partners’ social media communication goals, Addison Jackel has developed his services as a distinguished writer and editor. His articles balance high fidelity research with a creative and personal approach to readership engagement.