How to be healthy, happy, and fit, the easy way. Diets don’t work but small, sustainable changes do. Success builds confidence and motivation. Here are 50 simple tips on how to start!
“This healthy eating thing is hard!”, she said to herself as she walked past the box of donuts clenching her carrots and hummus in hand. An hour later she reflected on that moment of iron will and realized that making good for you choices is actually a lot easier than she thought. Being overweight, sick, and uncomfortable in your own skin, now that’s HARD work.
Living healthfully can feel overwhelming when we are faced with a sea of decisions and changes we “have to” make. But a healthy life isn’t lived out in years, it happens in the daily choices we make.
When we get our eyes off the magnitude and focus in on the next moment, it’s doable, sustainable and life-changing.
Here you will find a list of 50 ideas you can start implementing today to make your body, soul, and spirit and little more robust. My suggestion is to pick just one or two suggestions to play around with. Some are simple, one-time tricks while others are skills you will need to hone over time.
If it seems overly simplistic, good. Overcomplicating things leads to overwhelm which ultimately results in analysis paralysis, a.k.a. doing nothing. That way, it doesn’t work.
What works is getting inspired by some fun ideas, trying them out, and building confidence in your ability to change.
IN THE GROCERY STORE
1. Plan ahead. Determine what you are going to buy and stick to The Plan. Be sure to include a treat that you really enjoy but one that is not so good that it veers you off course from your goals.
2. Start with produce and protein. Build your plate and your purchases around these two satisfying, nutritional powerhouses. Then, fill in the gaps with the other departments such as dairy, dry goods, and condiments.
3. Keep sugar #5 and below. Packaged food ingredients are listed in order of volume. To reduce your sugar intake, choose products that do not have sugar listed in the first 5 ingredients. Be aware that food manufacturers have gotten pretty sneaky about added sweeteners, using multiple types to avoid having sugar listed earlier in the contents.
4. Stock up on fresh herbs. Fresh herbs are loaded with phytonutrients and antioxidants. To keep them fresh, simply cut the bottom of their stems and place them in a glass with 1″ of water. Then loosely cover with a baggie. Change the water daily.
5. Up the ante on variety. How many types of fruits or veggies did you eat last week? Try to add something new or different to your cart each week. This is a fun “game” to get your kids involved with!
6. Find the frozen. When fresh is not available, opt for frozen. Frozen fruits and veggies are often flash frozen within hours after being harvested. This process locks in vitamins and minerals for optimum nutrition.
7. Maximize easy meals. Stock up on a few last minute meals that are easy to cook on busy weeknights. Fish and shrimp thaw easily last minute; pre-made turkey or black bean burgers can be thrown on the grill frozen; a veggie omelet is always a winner!
IN THE KITCHEN
8. Make-up your marinara. Add dried oregano, basil, and parsley to any low-sugar jarred marinara sauce and simmer. Toss in diced zucchini and shredded carrots to up your vegetable game. Not only will the sauce taste homemade but you’ll have increased your nutrition!
9. “Spinach-up” canned soup. Low-sodium canned soups are great when you are in a pinch. To up the nourishment ante, add fresh spinach before heating. Kick up your protein and fiber by adding a serving of rinsed, canned beans.
10. Keep citrus on hand. Fresh lemon and lime are a welcome addition to any healthy cook’s kitchen. Finish veggies, poultry, and fish with a squeeze of fresh citrus.
11. Spice it up. Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants and is an excellent way to balance your blood sugar. Sprinkle it in your coffee, on your cereal or atop apple slices. Cinnamon also has a sweet essence which can reduce your need for added sugar.
12. Nut better. Peanut butter is just the beginning. Try a new nut butter such as cashew, pecan, coconut, almond and more. Nutzo 7- Nut Butter contains 7-in-1!
13. Upgrade your pasta. With so many nutritious options now available, plain white pasta is on the extinction list. From lentil and black bean pasta to Zoodles and spaghetti squash, there’s more way than one to swirl your fork into deliciousness.
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14. Batch it up. When cooking a healthy meal that your family adores, be sure to double or triple your batch. Protein, soups, sauces and whole grains freeze well and will make for a quick and nutritious meal on a busy night.
15. Try new oils. Trying dressing your salads with avocado or walnut oil. Cook stir-fries in coconut, red palm or sesame oil. Roast those veggies in macadamia nut oil.
16. Use a Misto. A Misto is a fabulous kitchen gadget that allows you to spray olive oil evenly and lightly for great flavor and easy cooking.
17. Sass up your salads. Traditional salad ingredients are great but how about adding some nuts, seeds, fresh fruit, or roasted veggies? To make your greens even more satisfying toss in a spoonful of quinoa.
18. K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, sweetie. Less is often better. When stuck on what meal to make, choose a protein source, a veggie, and a starch or fruit. That is really all you need.
19. Freeze your bread off. If you would like to reduce your bread intake but don’t want to waste it, toss the loaf in the freezer as soon as you get home. Simply move the pieces around a little bit to ensure that they are not stuck together. The same works well for buns and tortillas.
20. Try an AM smoothie. Busy morning? Before you head to bed add unsweetened almond milk, protein powder or Greek yogurt, a few nuts or chia seeds, a handful of fruit (fresh or frozen) and a handful of greens to a blender. In the morning just blend and go!
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21. Wobble while you work. Use a yoga ball or stability ball office chair in lieu of a regular chair to keep your core activated and posture on point.
22. Make time to stand! Intentionally stand up at regular intervals to keep the blood flowing and give your brain a break. Set a timer on your phone or use an app.
23. Take a walk on your lunch break. I know it’s too cold or too hot or something else but I believe that you will be glad you broke through the excuses and started this habit. Be sure to enlist a walking buddy for accountability and encouragement!
24. Pack tasty food. An office is a place that will have innumerable birthday parties and holidays to celebrate. By all means, I want you to enjoy the treats you love but it is easy to go overboard with frequent celebrations. To avoid overdoing it, pack healthy food that you look forward to. When your lunch is something that makes your mouth water, it will be much easier to pass on the second impromptu pizza order this week.
25. Keep healthy snacks near your desk. Meetings go long and fires need to be put out. When lunch gets delayed, it is helpful to have satisfying eats available. Raw nuts, applesauce pouches, premixed protein shakes, and RXBars are great non-perishable options. If you have access to a refrigerator, cheese sticks, fruit, hummus and veggies, and hard-boiled eggs are all great go-to’s!
26. Keep hydrated. If your job is sedentary, it is easy to forget to drink your water. Then thirst may be easily misinterpreted as hunger. Not only will adequate hydration keep hunger at bay but it will help you think and move better!
27. Go green. If your energy and concentration lull mid-afternoon, consider having some iced or hot green tea. The slight dose of caffeine will give you a little boost (without the crash) and its antioxidant and thermogenic properties will keep your body and mind in tip-top shape.
AT THE TABLE
28. Pray (more) before you eat. We are accustomed to praying for a meal but we may forget to pray about the meal. Need help eating in a way that glorifies God? Now is a great time to ask!
29. Honor your hunger. Out of the 50 suggestions, this is probably the most powerful. Eating when you are physically hungry means that your body is in need of food. That need leads to better food choices and means that the fuel is utilized rather than stored as body fat (if you don’t overeat).
30. Serve yourself less. When adding food to your plate, put a little bit back. Chances are you’ll be just fine. This new portion can slowly become your new normal. Consider it an experiment- if you are still hungry, you can always eat those 3 bites later.
31. Eat the best bites first. Rather than saving the tastiest bits until last, eat them first when they are fresh and warm and the most delicious. Then it will be much easier to…
33. Leave 3 bites. Rather than polishing off your plate, leave a few bites, sowing seeds of self-control.
33. Eat from a plate. Yep, rather than standing or eating straight out of the bag, serve yourself the desired portion on a plate.
34. Slow it down. Eating quickly can cause you to plow right past the full signal, leaving your belly too full and your pants too tight. By eating slowly you can enjoy the taste and be more aware when your body has had just enough.
35. Diminish distractions. Eating “and”, it’s all too common. Try setting your phone aside and eat a meal only distracted by the great conversation of your company. It’s soul food.
36. Take a break. If you find yourself eating without awareness, pause once you finish each 1/4 of your plate. Set your fork down and wait 30-60 seconds. This “speed bump” will help reset your pace.
37. Eat the rainbow. How many colors are on your plate? Play a game with your kids- who can eat more (God-made) colors. Fruity Pebbles don’t count!
38. Cut the calorie-laden drinks. Drinking our calories does not lead to physical satisfaction and adds calories to our diets that we don’t need. Try to reduce them by switching to unsweetened almond milk in your coffee and opt for stevia-sweetened water mixers.
IN YOUR DAILY LIFE
39. Maximize commercial time. Do you know that most 3o-minute sitcoms have 10 minutes of commercials? Use those breaks to move your body in exercise rather than walking to the refrigerator.
40. Make the mirror a no-criticism zone. Negative self-talk helps NO-one. Simply refuse to speak negatively anytime you look in the mirror. Try writing scriptures on your mirror with a erase marker as a reminder.
41. Balance in the wait. Balance is critical as we age and it’s never too early to start. Practice standing on one foot while washing dishes or blow-drying your hair. You’ll feel your ankles and lower calf muscles start to burn- that means the magic is happening!
42. Be NEAT. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is the outside of the workout movement you do each day and those moves add up to good health, fast. From fidgeting to walking the mall, those individuals who stay the leanest are those that keep on the move without being in the gym for hours on end.
43. Prioritize enjoyment. We tend to get it backward- we make time for all of our to-do list and miss our want to list. Then we spend time seeking relaxation in activities that don’t do much to fill us up (i.e. Facebook, television, pacing the kitchen). By making time for those activities that you truly love, you will find fulfillment that matters.
44. Water yourself. Dehydration is responsible for a host of ailments that can easily be avoided by chugging some H2O. If you have a hard time getting yourself to drink, consider purchasing a new water bottle or experiment with add-ins such as fresh fruit and herbal tea.
45. Gratitude for the attitude. When a tough day hit and everything seems to be going wrong, there is a switch we can flip to turn our eyes upward. No matter how dreamy or difficult today has been, find 5 things to celebrate.
46. Set yourself up for (good) sleep. Your body stops when it hits the bed but your mind keeps going? Keep a paper and pen on your bedside table to jot down any thoughts that race in your mind. This way you won’t have to worry about forgetting to remember.
47. Make time to plan. Planning, it is a massive key to success. Set aside 5-15 minutes each week to brainstorm meals for the week. Start simple with 3 dinners a week and slowly add more meals to the mix.
48. Out of sight, out of mind. Keep tempting foods out of plain sight. Store cookies and chips on a high shelf or in an out-of-the-way cabinet. Move frozen treats in drawers or opaque containers.
49. Preview the menu. Before you head out to a restaurant, take a few moments to review what’s on the menu so that you can make a mindful choice. Balance out indulgent choices with grilled meats, steamed veggies, and lightly dressed salads.
50. Track a day. Once a week or once a month write down or track your food intake in MyFitnessPal. It is easy to veer into mindless eating and an occasional reality check can be refreshing.
There you have it, 50 easy ways to up your healthy living game. Remember, this list is intended to inspire and not overwhelm. Use these tips to get you started.
- Print out the 50 tips. I’ve made this super easy for you with a DOWNLOADABLE PDF of this blog post.
- Highlight all of the ideas that stand out to you and number them in order of appeal and potential effectiveness.
- Start with your first choice TODAY and then add new habits to practice, as your time and energy allow.
- Comment below on which tip is your favorite!
Brandice Lardner is a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Author, and Jesus Girl whose mission in life is to help women ditch the diet mentality and find peace with food and their bodies so that they are better equipped to do the great things God has called them to do.