It’s a new year, which means new approaches to your eating habits. But if you’re considering something like a cleanse or detox, you may want to pause.
While a drastic move may seem like the quickest way to reset your body, it’s unnecessary—and potentially can be unsafe.
Instead, we suggest incorporating some simple nutritional strategies for healthy, mindful eating every day.
Don’t let sugar trick your brain.
Why is it so easy to overindulge? Because of the complex inner workings of our brain, where our eating habits often begin.
Before you dive into that slice of decadent chocolate cake, ask yourself: Are you really hungry, or is sugar tricking you? Studies have shown our need to eat can be driven by pleasure. When we consume foods loaded with sugar, our brains release dopamine and serotonin, making us feel good—and want more of what we’re eating.
You can keep your sweet tooth under control by following the American Heart Association’s recommendations of no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar per day for most men and no more than 6 teaspoons per day for most women.
Feel full longer with high-fiber foods.
Maintaining or losing weight doesn’t have to mean food deprivation or hunger pangs. In fact, you can eat more if you choose the right types of foods.
Incorporating energy-dense foods that are high in fiber and low in calories helps make you feel full longer.
As you plan your meals, search for recipes that contain high-fiber foods such as raspberries, apples, green peas, broccoli, barley, and quinoa. There are additional dietary benefits of high-fiber foods, including controlling blood sugar, lower cholesterol levels, and optimal bowel health.
Good hydration improves eating habits.
Water is an overlooked component of our eating habits. It is essential to every organ, tissue, and cell in our bodies. Dehydration can cause headaches, muscle cramps, and weight gain due to reduced metabolism.
Skip empty calorie-laden beverages such as sodas or energy drinks and opt for water. Drinking water throughout the day can help to regulate appetite, as water will also help you feel full longer. While recommended guidelines for daily intake frequently change depending on your medical history, climate, activity level and other factors, most healthy adults should aim for four to six cups.
Speak with your physician to determine what is best for your needs.
Avoid over-processed foods by eating clean.
Unfortunately, processed foods have become central to most people’s eating habits. However, limiting the amount we eat is absolutely possible. Processed foods can contain unnecessary additives, chemicals, sugar, sodium, and trans fats.
Clean eating focuses on filling our plates with whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins. Eating clean can be as simple as switching your sugar-filled fruit yogurt with a serving of unsweetened Greek yogurt and fresh berries. The science shows that eating mindfully and choosing to reduce the number of processed foods in your diet can improve your overall health and reduce your risk of developing many chronic diseases.
Sleep impacts your eating habits.
Lifestyle choices of all kinds can affect our eating habits. Sleep is a great example. Our bodies require quality rest to reset and recharge. While binge-watching Netflix into the wee hours is tempting, setting a sleep schedule will keep you and your metabolism on track. Inadequate sleep has many negative side effects, including a higher risk of obesity and diabetes. Inadequate sleep can result in your body creating increased levels of ghrelin (the hormone that triggers hunger). Experts typically recommend seven to nine hours for adults. However, keep in mind that every individual has different sleep needs.