As we welcome the new year, it's a great time to reflect on our habits and consider making healthy changes. Whether you're looking to improve your overall health, lose weight, or feel better, adopting new habits is a great way to ensure success.
Read on for our top ten simple yet effective nutrition habits to consider incorporating into your routine, along with tips and easy swaps.
Interested in learning even more? Check out our last blog on simple steps for building mental health habits for best practices on habit-setting and our Healthy Food Habits Guide for a list of anxiety-reducing foods!
1. Eat more fruit
Fruit is a great source of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fruit can help keep you feeling full and satisfied, while reducing your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Fruit can also reduce anxiety due to vitamins and nutrient such as vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. Fruit is also naturally low in calories and fat, making them a healthy choice for weight management.
Tip: Incorporate fruit into your meals in creative ways. For example, use mango or pineapple slices as a topping for grilled chicken or fish, or mix diced apples or pears into your salad greens. You can even enjoy a tasty dessert by baking an apple or pear!
Easy swap: Replace ice cream with homemade "nice" cream. Nice cream is a popular, healthy alternative to traditional ice cream. To make nice cream, blend frozen bananas and any other fruit you'd like in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy. Bananas are an excellent option for a base. Then, add a splash of plant-based milk, cocoa for a chocolate twist, or a spoonful of nut butter for added creaminess and flavor.
2. Incorporate more plant-based foods.
Plant-based foods are high in nutrients and fiber, which can help to support overall health and well-being. Some plant-based foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants can help protect your cells from damage, reduce your risk of certain types of cancer, and lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Tip: Start by incorporating one or two plant-based meals into your weekly meal plan. Consider swapping out a meat-based meal for a bean or lentil-based dish.
Easy swap: Try using aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) instead of egg whites in recipes.
3. Choose lean proteins
Lean proteins, such as chicken, fish, and tofu, are lower in fat and calories compared to higher fat options. They can help to keep you feeling full and satisfied, and are a good source of essential nutrients, such as iron, zinc, and B vitamins. They play a role in muscle building and maintenance, which is vital for overall health and well-being. Other benefits include reducing the risk of heart disease and improving blood sugar control.
Tip: Use cooking methods that don't add extra fat, such as grilling, baking, roasting, or poaching. Avoid cooking methods that require a lot of added fat, such as frying.
Easy swap: Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Greek yogurt is a good protein source and is lower in fat than sour cream. It can be used as a topping for baked potatoes, a dip for vegetables, or a substitute for mayonnaise in sandwiches.
4. Limit your processed and sugary foods intake.
It's not just sugary snacks and desserts with high sugar content but also processed and packaged foods, such as bread, tomato sauce, and flavored yogurts. It's also important to know that sugars can be listed under different ingredients, such as corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, and honey.
Tip: The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adults consume no more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of added sugars daily. You can check the nutrition label to find out how much sugar is in a product. The label will list the total amount of sugars per serving, as well as the amount of added sugars.
Easy swap: Craving sweets? Try frozen grapes! They are a refreshing snack and a great source of antioxidants, including vitamin C and resveratrol. They're also naturally low in calories and fat.
5. Consider taking supplements.
Supplements can be a convenient way to help ensure getting necessary nutrients for good mental and physical health. Some supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids or probiotics, may be beneficial for specific health conditions, such as heart disease or digestive issues. Probiotics have also proven to have a positive effect on mental health by supporting and enhancing the gut-brain connection.
There are also some supplements that have been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety, such as L-theanine, magnesium, B-6, and passionflower. Consider bekome's Daily Peace of Mind for a daily dose of probiotics, vitamins, amino acid, and botanicals proven to help reduce stress, improve gut health, and enhance mood.
Tip: If you struggle taking supplements consistently, try pairing them with a daily routine. For example, you could take supplements with your morning coffee or after brushing your teeth at night.
Easy swap: Even if you are eating a healthy diet, getting all the nutrients you need from food alone can be difficult. Supplements help fill any gaps in your nutrient intake. Try taking a supplement that provides a range of benefits to support your body's natural processes.
6. Drink plenty of water.
Water helps flush toxins out of your body while supporting your immune system and improving overall health. And dehydration can cause symptoms such as dizziness and fatigue, which can contribute to anxiety. Drinking water can help keep your skin looking healthy and may even help to prevent wrinkles! Water also helps keep you full and satisfied, which helps reduce your appetite, and a great way to support a healthy weight.
Tip: Drink a glass of water before and after each meal. It helps to keep you hydrated and may even help to reduce your appetite.
Easy swap: Eat water-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, which can help to increase your overall water intake.
7. Eat Slowly and Mindfully
Mindful eating has many benefits, including improved digestion and increased satisfaction. When fully present and engaged, you're more likely to chew your food properly, aiding digestion. Mindful eating can also help you to become more aware of your hunger and fullness cues, which may help you to make healthier food choices.
Tip: Turn off the TV, put away your phone, and try to eat in a quiet, peaceful environment. Removing distractions helps you to focus on your food and the act of eating.
Easy swap: Swap eating mindlessly for eating mindfully. Pay attention to your food, the act of eating, and the sensations in your body. Notice your food's flavors, textures, and smells, and take time to appreciate the eating experience.
8. Cook at home more often.
Cooking can be a relaxing and enjoyable activity that can help to reduce stress and improve your overall physical and mental health. While also helping to save money since it is generally less expensive than eating out, you can buy ingredients in bulk and use them to prepare multiple meals.
Tip: Use smaller plates and bowls to help control portion sizes. It's also a good idea to measure servings to ensure you're not overeating.
Easy swap: Invite friends or family and replace a night out with a healthy home-cooked meal. Eating with friends or family can make meal times more enjoyable and may even help with portion control.
9. Eat a rainbow of colors.
Colored fruits and vegetables contain different types and amounts of nutrients. For example, orange and yellow vegetables are high in beta-carotene. Leafy green vegetables are high in calcium and iron. By eating a variety of colors, you can ensure that you're getting a wide range of nutrients. For specific foods that reduce anxiety, check out our list of anxiety reducing foods here.
Tip: Include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your meals and snacks. Aim for at least five servings per day.
Easy swap: Swap white potatoes with nutritious and colorful sweet potatoes! White potatoes are a good source of potassium. Sweet potatoes are even higher in this nutrient and contain more vitamin A.
10. Get enough fiber.
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is found in plant-based foods. Consuming fiber has many benefits, including helping to control blood sugar levels and weight management. Fiber can slow down the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, which may help to improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes. It can also help with weight management since fiber keeps you full and satisfied.
Tip: Add chia seeds to your meals. Chia seeds are a good source of fiber and can be easily added to yogurt, smoothies, and baked goods.
Easy swap: Swap white rice for brown rice. White rice is made from refined grains, while brown rice is a whole grain. One cup of cooked brown rice contains about 3.5 grams of fiber, compared to about 0.6 grams in a cup of cooked white rice.
- MediLexicon International. (n.d.). Can you eat fruit with diabetes? Medical News Today. Retrieved January 2, 2023, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/311220#:~:text=Benefits%20for%20diabetes&text=A%20diet%20high%20in%20soluble,many%20fruits%20makes%20them%20filling.
- Citroner, G. (2019, October 4). Science finds fiber can lower diabetes, high blood pressure risk. Healthline. Retrieved January 2, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/health-news/fiber-can-help-with-t2d-and-heart-disease
- Added sugars. www.heart.org. (2022, July 22). Retrieved January 2, 2023, from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/added-sugars