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Healthy Eating Habits: 8 You Can Commit To Right Now | Box Appetit

| by Drew Middleton

healthy eating habits

Adapting your mindset towards healthy eating habits can incur many positive changes in your body’s metabolism. By creating a bespoke relationship with food - one that comfortably integrates with your lifestyle - you can lose weight, sleep easier and feel happier.

Inside this blog, you will learn daily nutritional tactics, many of which are proven to help you follow a fruitful balanced routine, avoid fad diets and supplements. At the end, simply handpick those most beneficial to you. So shall we begin?

What’s The Definition of Healthy Food?

According to The Medical Dictionary, “healthy food” is defined as any consumable food deemed to be ‘good for you’. Those noticeably high in natural vitamins, fibres and fructose fit into this category. If something you eat or drink reduces health risks such as cholesterol and infections, these may also be considered healthy.

Healthy Eating Habits: The Complete Guide

Habit 1: Smaller meals, higher frequency

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It’s time to scrap the concept of three meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Proving popular in the fitness world, preparing up to six meals a day to be eaten at regular intervals (i.e. every two to three hours) has been linked with an increase in weight loss. The theory? It allows you to control both overeating and undereating, as well as control portions and calories. Over time you can lose inches of belly fat.

via GIPHY

We tend to overeat - known also as binge or compulsive eating - when we have urges to eat food even when we are not hungry. It can be classified as a disorder that leads to weight gain, affecting 1 in 2 who struggle with their weight and around 12 million UK citizens. If you eat faster, past fullness, alone, secretly, emotionally or struggle to stop indulgence you are likely overeating. Regularly planned meals may tame these spontaneous impulses.

Undereating is a classic by-product of detoxing and low-calorie diets and may carry harmful side effects. Chronic fasting is known to cause slower metabolism, malnutrition and sluggish energy levels. By decreasing your calorie intake you can lose weight, but dramatic reductions can be unhealthy and skipping meals increases cortisol hormone levels which lead to weight gain; especially Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCDs) under 800 calories. The healthier option is to opt for a series of smaller nutrient-controlled meals to enjoy as part of your daily routine.

If you chronically overeat or undereat it may be damaging your health, so please seek medical attention.

To-Go: plan, prep and eat smaller meals frequently throughout the day to control your eating habits.

Habit 2: Eliminate ‘danger foods’ completely

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As bad eating habits go, this is a  sneaky bugger. Have you ever found yourself desperately reaching for the cookie jar, chocolate drawer, candy tin or cream eclairs in the fridge? Of course, you have. We all have. But by completely removing unhealthy snacks from a. Your weekly shopping list, and b. From your home entirely you’ll abolish the temptations to binge on.

Bembu helpfully lists 33 of the most unhealthy foods which you should avoid. In most cases, these fatty/sweet/salty treats can be difficult to dodge seeing as they are advertised and readily available everywhere you turn. You’ve been warned:

  • Trans-fats: fast food, cookies, cake frosting, pancakes, microwave popcorn, frozen ready meals
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): colas, sodas, yoghurt, tomato ketchup, sugar-loaded cereals
  • MSGL (Monosodium Glutamate): dressings, fried foods, packets of crisps
  • Artificial Sweeteners: found in most foods and drinks labelled ‘diet’
  • Sodium: cheese, pretzels, scratchings, luncheon meats, pizza
  • Cholesterol: ice cream, pork-based grub (bacon, ribs), pastries and doughnuts
  • Saturated Fats: cream, fatty meats, burgers, milkshakes
  • Calories and Carbs: ‘loaded’ pasta, dressings, chocolate, bagels, coffee

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The trick here is to spring clean your shopping list. Avoid on-the-spot impulse buys - that means no half price Ben & Jerry’s - and scanning aisles you now will be stocked with calorific products. It sounds like plain sailing, but this is one of the trickier healthy eating habits to master as it involves conditioning. 

Instead, purchase baskets of fruit and veg, drink water, snack on carrot or celery sticks… Most ‘fresh’ produce should keep you on track. See Authority Nutrition’s healthy alternatives to common bad foods for more inspiration.

 

However, athletes and fitness fanatics have been known satisfy their insatiable cravings outside of training regimes with cheat meals. Take Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson for example - above. These naughty feasts are devoured to escape long term habit failure. A handy tip which could fit your lifestyle.

To-Go: keep your shopping list clean and house free from unhealthy snacks

Habit 3: Cut down (and ideally remove) sugar

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Developing healthy eating habits requires a gradual consistent journey. They will not manifest overnight. Sugar is just one of those rocky roads; a jagged-edged motorway with countless blockades and barriers to stop your sugar-free success.  When we spoke of ‘danger foods’, many contain artificial glucose and fructose.

Sugar contributes to so-called ‘empty calories’ - or foods with no nutrients that still supply energy - which act as a gateway to weight gain. This includes fizzy drinks, biscuits, cereals, jams, syrups, sauces and sweets. It’s surprising how much sugar goes into most foods. One of the key good eating habits for children to develop early is to avoid consuming too much sugar (which can be extremely difficult according to the 'Sugar Smart' campaign, as kids are eating three times more than they should).

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A quick science lesson for you… The microbiome is an evolving bacteria in your gut which influences the brain’s cerebral and psychological state. This suggests that your lust for sugar may be your body’s bacteria craving those bad bacterias. It's a ‘more you eat it, more you want it’ theory - and by far the most systematic and experimental of the healthy eating habits we uncovered in research.

There’s now a growing niche market for bacteria-filled foods including kimchi, Yakult, natural yoghurt, sauerkraut and Japanese Kombucha tea. It’s a complex yet interesting science to read up on - see here.

Furthermore, in an interview with Tristar Gym in February 2016, Georges Lockhart - UFC Lightweight Champion Conor McGregor’s personal dietitian and expert nutritionist - who offered an unexpected tip to persistent kerb sugar cravings. A spoonful of cinnamon in water.  

healthy eating habits, cinnamon, water, nutrition, conor mcgregor, georges lockhart

“Cinnamon helps to regulate insulin levels, causing them to flat line, which helps you avoid sweet addictive foods” - Georges Lockhart  

See if it works for you; take our reusable bottle, remove the charcoal and fill it with tap water, add cinnamon and let the magic happen.

To-Go: Develop an easy-to-follow sugar cutting plan with realistic goals - and give the cinnamon trick a try.

Habit 4: Consider clean prep-and-cook methods

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Sometimes it’s not always about what you eat, but how you prepare and cook your meals. If you’re eating ‘fried’ cuisine, the process is an unhealthy one.  Excess fatty oils are absorbed by the food which makes it more calorific and these carries further issues with blood pressure and cholesterol.

However, olive and sunflower oils are ‘fine for the heart’ concluded by research from the Autonomous University of Madrid on a survey of 40,757 adults. These oils - alongside moderate consumption of vegetables and protein - are a heavy feature of Mediterranean diets. Hence countries such as Italy and Greece are praised worldwide for their influential healthy eating habits.

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The solution? Boil, steam or poach your proteins and carbohydrates. If need be, stir-fry with healthy oils.

This goes for eating out at restaurants too. Overcome the pre-embarrassment of making special requests for your meals; whether you ask for ‘no dressing’ or ‘no starchy potatoes’, order clearly and politely and those healthy alterations will be hassle-free for the kitchen staff.

Especially relevant in recent scientific research and reported by BBC news (Jan 2017), browned toast and potatoes are a 'potential cancer risk' according to government food scientists.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has found that Acrylamide - a chemical substance linked to cancer, formed by a reaction between amino acids and sugars - is produced when foods high in starch are baked, roasted, fried or grilled at temperatures over 120C for lengthy periods of time. 

bbc news, food standards agency, infographic on acrylamide

They recommend that you carefully follow all cooking instructions and avoid 'browning'. You should aim for a golden yellow colour or "go for gold" when preparing the following foods at home: bread, chips, potatoes and parsnips.

The darker the colour, the greater the risk of the acrylamide by-product being present. However Cancer Research UK has said the link between acrylamide and cancer has not yet been proven in humans. Don't overlook this as one of the simpler healthy eating habits.

To-Go: Remember to use alternative methods of cooking, outside of frying. Avoid 'browning' your food. Don’t be scared to make special requests when you eat out.

Habit 5: Drink more water

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Fluids are a highly important element of healthy eating. Government guidelines across the globe recommend drinking 6-10 glasses - or 6-8 bottles - of tap water per day.  If you are not a loyal fan of how H2O tastes, a natural Binchotan active charcoal filter from Japan will remove impurities such as chlorine and leave a crisp, clean flavour.

 

Drinking water also aids the homoeostasis - a stable equilibrium - of the body, which is great for exercise conditioning. It will replenish your electrolytes, giving you more energy throughout the day, and should help power you through your workout routines.

The lengthy catalogue of health benefits may surprise you, as drinking more water can: relieve fatigue, improve mood and feelings, aid digestion and weight loss, detoxify and suppress headaches. It should slide effortlessly into your regime and the only major liquid-based commitment from your healthy eating habits.

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Where water is the healthiest fluid to consume, there are liquids which contain an obscene amount of calories - seeing as you are drinking rather than eating them, this can be shocking to process. The worst of the worst: alcohol, cream-loaded coffees and milkshakes. Therefore you should limit your consumption of these no matter how addictive they are.

To-Go: Carry a reusable water bottle with you everywhere. Refill and drink from it at regular intervals during the day - at work, outside, commuting or home.

Habit 6: Sleep for longer, no food after dinner

via GIPHY

The Mirror reports that the average human will sleep for 227,68 hours in their lifetime. That’s 9490 days, 26 years or one-third of your life in bed. An unbelievable concept to fathom. On top of this, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke suggests that the adult body needs up to 7-8 hours of sleep each day. Conclusion: sleep is normal, natural and needs to be taken to keep you energised.

As healthy eating habits and strategies go, this one is about your daily pattern. Getting more sleep by going to bed earlier at night (ideally before 10 pm local time) and not consuming food after our evening meal is proven to boost the body’s metabolism and fat-burning state. Equally, when you do not snack just before jumping inside your duvet,  you avoid restless sleep that digestion can cause.

To-Go: Ensure dinner is the last meal of the day - and do not eat afterwards. Catch earlier nights so your metabolism wakes up more revitalised.

Habit 7: Balanced diet = your gateway to healthy eating habits

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Credit: Health Clinic Web

Consuming a simple variety of foods from the key food groups is what you need to aim for. When planning your weekly lunches and meals, train yourself to be conscious of what you should eat ‘less of’ and ‘more of’. Over time, this scaling of good foods will become second nature. Long term benefits of the balanced plate philosophy include immunisation from disease and weight loss.

As a side note, limit your exposure to produce where the risk of contamination from chemicals and other toxic substances is higher.

healthy eating habits, whole foods, whole grains, healthy food, healthy eating recipes

EAT MORE: Unprocessed low-density whole foods e.g. grains (barley, wheat, oat) that retain the bran and germ. Look for “100% whole grain/wheat” and avoid “refined” carbohydrates as these are stripped of nutrients and contain no dietary fibre. Adding a colourful ‘rainbow’ mixture of whole fruit and veg to your intake will inspire fewer calories too; bright, fresh and flavoursome is the way forward.

EAT LESS: Saturated fats, trans-fats and sugar. By stripping these away from your diet, you should reduce your risk of weight gain and high cholesterol. Pick leaner or skinless cuts of meat instead, which slims your consumption of unhealthy or processed animal fats.

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EAT MORE: Unsaturated fats e.g. fatty fish, nuts and avocados minimise the risk of disease and aid muscle growth. Fibre will also keep your stomach fuller for longer and calcium-rich Vitamin D-loaded foods promote healthy stronger bones.

EAT LESS: Sodium (Salt). The recommended intake for Americans is 2300 milligrammes (FDA) - and for Brits, 2.4 grammes (NHS). Therefore putting a stop to lashings of extra salt over your meals is a sensible approach, but be wary of the salt content of your favourite grub.

There’s also the notion of “the daily menu” which should flow nicely into your healthy eating habits. People deemed ‘fit and successful’ share many characteristics, notably:

  • Predictable meals: they will have routinely repetitive meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Don’t skip breakfast: they will always eat first thing in the morning to reduce hunger throughout the day
  • Careful with calories: they watch what they eat to a tee

If you require more balanced diet information, the NHS has a host of useful healthy eating habits guides.

To-Go: Make yourself conscious of what you should reduce/increase consumption of. Diets with colour and variety are king.

Habit 8: Size and labels matters

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If you’re learning healthy eating habits to lose weight, then reading food packaging labels and portion control will benefit your results.

While labels reveal the basic nutritional information and contents of what you're putting into your mouth - such as Guideline Daily Amount (GDA), Energy (kcal), Protein, Carbohydrates/Sugars, Sodium, Fibre and Fat/Saturates - most tins and packets will suggest ‘serving sizes’. Don’t underestimate these as they tend to be fantastic guidelines.

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Controlling your portions will help you eat in moderation while deterring you from doubling or even tripling calories. As a result, cooking fresh lunches at home with simple foods, then keeping in convenient-sized lunch boxes with food dividers for the day or week ahead, is the best approach.

Calorie counting works for some too, as tracking how much are present in your food via mobile applications such as MyFitnessPal can help expose your diet’s successes and slips. Find an accessible user-friendly app that’s right for you.

To-Go: Prep and portion your meals in advance. Test calorie-counting to decide whether it’s a good fit for you.

In conclusion: we recommend finding the right balance of healthy eating habits for you. Each one is worth a time trial, and while they won’t all work for your lifestyle and everyday commitments, a handful will benefit your positive relationship with food and body goals in the long term.

So which of the 8 healthy eating habits will you be trying first? Let us now by voting below:

 

Content Updated: January 25th 2017

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