Whether you committed to eating healthier this year or not, trying to get more greens onto your plate and into your mouth can be more work than expected. With everything going on in our daily lives, it can be difficult to find the inspiration and motivation to do things differently. Luckily, there are easy, actionable ways to incorporate more good foods into your diet without totally changing your lifestyle. Here are five simple ways to trick yourself into eating healthier.
1. Aim for convenience.
A busy work schedule, virtual learning sessions, and household chores can quickly eat up all the hours in a day. While you may have envisioned hot breakfasts at the table, nutritious lunches, and a balanced dinner for the whole family, in reality, sometimes there just isn’t enough time or energy to accomplish everything in 24 hours. One trick to eating healthier every day is to make things easier for yourself. This includes a focused aim on convenience, such as:
- Buying pre-chopped vegetables to add to a quick stir fry.
- Creating pre-portioned snacks that you can reach for on the go, like peanut butter and apple slices.
- Storing frozen fruits and veggies you can microwave in a snap.
2. Keep it fresh.
It happens to all of us—you get stuck in a routine and cook the same meals over and over. To make healthy eating more exciting, try switching it up at least once a week. Look for new recipes or get creative with combinations you may have never tried, like avocado chunks paired with grapefruit pieces. You can also reimagine a healthy staple. We love to top banana slices with a teaspoon of peanut butter and one chocolate chip for a delicious snack.
3. Make substitutions.
A lá Eat This, Not That, there are simple swaps you can make to fulfill your craving for salty, sweet, savory, or a crispy or smooth texture. Instead of a bag of chips, try plain popcorn, carrots, or celery for a satisfying crunch.
Prepping your snacks ahead of time and placing them in easy-to-take containers can help make substitutions a no-brainer. Easy-to-pack foods that’ll appease an instant craving include:
- Unsalted nuts
- Apples and pears
- Cherry tomatoes
- Dark chocolate
- Dried fruit without too much sugar
- Fruit and nut bars, store-bought or homemade
- Whole-grain crackers
- Cheese sticks
4. Don’t skip on protein.
It’s no secret that protein has many health benefits—like a boost in metabolism, reduced hunger levels, and an increase in muscle mass—but many people just don’t eat enough of it for those benefits to really take effect. While you may be eating enough to prevent a protein deficiency, health professionals recommend getting between 25-30 grams of protein per meal. What does that look like? One large egg contains about 6 grams of protein, and an 8-ounce glass of milk includes 8 grams of protein. Therefore, a typical, high-protein breakfast might have two scrambled eggs topped with shredded cheese, a side of black beans or avocado, and a glass of milk. This recipe for breakfast burritos boasts 25 grams of protein and calls for a decent helping of bacon. Getting sufficient protein throughout your day will help keep you fuller, longer, so you’re more inclined to keep the healthy eating streak going.
5. Drink more water.
We all know that water is important. The Institute of Medicine recommends that men drink about 101 ounces of water a day and women about 74 ounces. It can seem like a lot, especially when trying to keep tabs on how much you’ve consumed. To make it easy, invest in a water bottle that does the tracking for you. There are many on the market, but this one includes ounce, milliliter, and time markers to help you identify how much water you’ve taken in and when.