The year 2020 has been more than challenging for most of us. Our everyday behaviors and habits changed due to the pandemic. Many have gained weight due to lack of physical activity and resorting to sugary and other unhealthy foods to deal with stress and uncertainty.
We all want things to get better in 2021, including our nutrition. The key to a healthier diet is so simple that we often find it too generic. And let’s be honest – most of us want a quick fix. But, like with many other things in life, you’ll have to put in some work to see long-lasting effects.
Instead of radically changing your diet, to adopt a healthier lifestyle and stick to it, you need to start with small and realistic steps. Even small changes in your nutrition can add up to considerable health benefits.
Here are 5 tips that will help you adopt a healthier diet in 2021!
Plan your meals in advance
This one is super-important! If you don’t have your meals ready when the hunger kicks in, you are more likely to grab the easiest and most satisfying foods, and it often comes down to junk food. Meal planning ahead of time will prevent you from eating out, resorting to poor choices, and help you with portion control. You will not only greatly benefit your health, but also save money!
Practice mindful eating
Start by sitting down when you eat your meals. Ditch the screens and other distractions that make it hard to listen to our body’s signals regarding foods we consume. Focus on the act of eating alone and stop when your body signals that it’s full. For those of you who struggle with feeling satiated, slow down, and try to chew every bite of food around 25 times. It takes about 20 minutes for the body to send satiation signals, so this way, you won’t unconsciously overeat. Eat only when your body tells you that you are hungry instead of responding to an emotional want. Listen to your body’s signals and eat when your energy levels drop, and your stomach is growling.
Try plant-centric diets
A healthy diet requires loads of foods derived from plants (fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, and oils). They are some of the most nutrient-dense foods, and experts say you should eat 1–3 cups of vegetables per day. Replace half the amount of meat for plants or legumes, and make sure to include healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds in your everyday nutrition!
Also, by eating mostly plant-based, it can be harder to intake enough protein, essential building blocks for the body. There is a simple solution to this – include protein powders like premium isolate protein in your diet, and your skin, muscles, and other body parts will get enough of amino-acids to stay strong. This protein also doesn’t contain any added sugars and will help you build or maintain your muscle mass while losing fat.
Stay mindful without rigid rules with an 80/20 diet
The idea behind the 80/20 diet is simple; you get to eat well-balanced meals 80 per cent of the time. And the 20 per cent allows you to stop worrying about what you consume when you go out or when you are feeling a strong craving. With that 20 per cent, you get more freedom, so after you’ve eaten properly most of the week, you can enjoy yourself. This is a great way to avoid feeling deprived, which often leads to failures in sticking to a healthy diet. You can splurge and have onion rings for lunch, or ice cream for a dessert, just make sure not to overdo it as it will harm all your hard work.
Consider intermittent fasting
You’ve probably heard of this diet trend, as it’s all over the media lately. The most popular type is the 16:8 hour fast, which means that you eat all of your calories for the day within an 8-hour window, and then you fast for 16 hours. There are other methods, but one thing is the same for all of them: you are allowed to eat only during certain windows of time. When not fasting, you are required to eat nourishing and nutrient-dense foods. Studies in humans have found that IF is safe and incredibly effective if you can stick to it.
When preparing a meal, opt for healthy ingredients in moderate portions. Thoughtfully craft your food, so you achieve a balanced flavour, and you are good to go!