5 Tips for Better Eating Habits
Caitlin Self is HackCollege’s resident Nutrition student. If you’d like to suggest a topic for her to cover, leave it in the comments below.
With summer upon us, everyone could use a few tips on how to make their diet a little better. Whether you want to increase your energy level or become ready for bikini weather, here are five great tips to begin your path to healthier eating habits.
Use Smaller Plates
Research shows us that our standard plates, bowls, cups, and utensils have grown exponentially in the last 50-100 years. Speculation calls this one of the contributing factors to overweight and obesity, but most studies agree. How big are your dinner plates? Fourteen inches is becoming the standard size for many dinner plates, and most chain restaurants have these outrageously gigantic plates for your simple meal. If you want to eat less, start with smaller plates! You will see that your normal cereal bowl is probably about 2.5 servings worth of cereal, and that using tablespoons from your silverware drawer will lead to very poorly measured results. Want to know what hasn’t grown? Water glasses!
Drink More Water
Begin every meal with a glass of water. Chug it in the morning when you wake up, and again before bed. Hydrating your body is incredibly healthy on it’s own, but has the side effect of making you feel more full. If you start your meal off with 8-12 ounces of water, you’ll curb your hunger and consume fewer mozzarella sticks and tacos. It’s a huge help, and drinking water consistently throughout the day will help you forget snack cravings and mindless eating habits.
Eat When You’re Hungry
Stop distractedly snacking. Don’t take the entire bag of Doritos to the living room while you’re watching television. Put some in a bowl, put the bag away, and don’t go back for seconds. Try to eat only when you’re actually hungry, not when you think you might feel kind of hungry or you’re just really bored. Distracted eating is a dangerous habit. Your handful of M&M’s is probably closer to 200 calories than the recommended serving size of 103. When you plan your meals and eat only when you’re hungry, you can eliminate hundreds of worthless calories from your daily diet.
Prepare Healthy Snacks
Despite my earlier advice to eat only when hungry, I know it’s not always easy. If you’re completing a tedious task or you’re studying excessively, it’s almost impossible to crush the snack craving. If you can’t give it up, you can at least amend it significantly. Every week, prepare a few healthy, but super simple snacks. We’re talking bags of carrot slices, portioned out trail mix or nuts, frozen cubes of homemade smoothies, or even healthy oatmeal muffins. This way you’ll be able to snack a little bit without overdoing it on calories. If you have work, an internship, or a day at the library ahead of you, it’s a good idea to pack these low-calorie snacks in your bag to keep you away from the vending machines.
Learn To Cook
This is the number one way to encourage your own personal healthy eating habits. If you see how much salt, sugar, butter, or oil a recipe calls for (like you physically see it), you’ll understand what 500mg of salt really looks like. (The average amount of sodium in a Lean Cuisine.) If you learn to cook, you will have the ability to use real food: fresh vegetables, whole grains, and unprocessed sauces. You don’t have to make pasta every night, but a box of pasta with sautéed tomatoes will be infinitely more satisfying and much healthier than your typical Stouffer’s frozen dinner.
Related: The Science of Habits, Good and Bad