How to Eat More Healthily for Life
Improving your diet doesn't have to mean depriving yourself. Check out five tips that keep the fun in food.
- Be kind to yourself by focusing on how you eat, not just what you eat. You'll still make progress!
- Experts say getting into the habit of mindful eating can help you really, really enjoy your meals—and feel better afterwards.
- Rather than depriving yourself, see foods on a spectrum ranging from "eat more" to "eat less". Try inspired recipes for the former on the NTC App.
Read on to learn more …
Sometimes, treating yourself with kindness means doing less, particularly when it comes to workouts and nutrition. To make positive changes to your diet—whether you're a runner, a lifter or none of the above—the key is to focus on progress rather than perfection.
In fact, nourishing yourself has as much to do with how you eat as it does with what you eat, according to John Berardi, PhD, the co-founder of Precision Nutrition. A specialist in nutrient biochemistry, he works with athletes to boost their performance and recovery through diet. Here are five healthy-eating principles from him that don't suck.
1. Make Meals Mindful
As you probably know, chewing breaks food down into pieces that are digested more easily. However, what you may not realise is when you chew thoroughly and slowly, you can actually reduce indigestion and increase nutrient absorption. You might also enjoy your food more. If you usually power through meals, try putting your fork down between bites, eating with your non-dominant hand, using chopsticks, or turning the meal into a mindfulness exercise by focusing on each forkful.
2. Eat Only What You Really Need
Slowing down can also make it easier to tell when you've had enough. For example, if you typically consume a meal in 10 minutes, try to extend it to 13 or 15 minutes. You should stop eating when you feel as though you could eat more but could also walk away not hungry, even if there's food left on your plate. When you eat just enough, your body won't store extra calories as fat—and you'll avoid the lethargy and discomfort that comes from overeating.
3. Take Notes
You can't change what you eat if you don't know what you've been eating. Whether you keep a journal or use an app, log what you eat and how you feel after every meal or snack. Once you notice a pattern, you can cut back on foods that leave you tired and stock up on ones that keep you going. It may involve a little extra effort, but your body will repay you for the kindness.
4. Meet for Dinner
People don't eat "nutrients", they eat meals. And too many of us eat on the run, in front of the TV or while scrolling on our phones. Sitting down to eat with family and friends can reduce stress, strengthen social connections and even help you eat more slowly. It makes the meal more of a focal point.
5. Don't Scream at Ice Cream
Rather than demonising certain foods, think of all food along a spectrum ranging from "eat more frequently" (like greens) to "eat less frequently" (like ice cream). Too much restriction can backfire, leading you to throw in the towel and overdo it on the foods you were trying to limit. Mindful indulgences help you strike the right balance.
When your goal is progress rather than perfection, you can skip the shame spiral that too often comes with diet culture—and actually enjoy your food.
Words: Daniel Menasché
Illustration: Gracia Lam