I have been following a healthy diet – I call it a plant-based diet – for about 10 years now. I’m not perfect, as I indulge in comfort foods occasionally. But I generally stick with the plan. People who know me well often tell me how difficult it is for them, asking me for tips to help them. Well, I’ll be the first one to tell you that it really can be hard. But, I think of it like playing basketball or playing tennis. Go tell Kobe Bryant or Carmello Anthony that playing basketball is hard, and they’ll make it seem so effortless. Serena Williams and Andre Agassi will make the game of tennis seem equally as effortless. The key ingredient is practice. Once you do it enough, you get better at it. Eating a healthy diet is the same way. You have to practice, and practice, and when you slip up, learn from it and keep going. Never give up.
In addition, don’t approach the process of eating healthy as if it is a chore. Add some imagination to what you’re doing, be creative. Making just small changes can make a big difference. Consider my tips below, and hopefully they will make you think of some additional ideas, which I hope you’ll share here:
– When eating sandwiches or wraps (whether at home or in restaurants or delis) add several vegetables, such as carrots, onions, mushrooms, romaine lettuce, sprouts, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, snow peas, or other vegetables. It’s okay to have it without cheese.
– Eat a side of a mixed green salad with your lunch or dinner. Be sure to avoid the creamy dressings. Try going for vinegar-based dressings. Or skip the dressing altogether and squirt a lemon or lime wedge over your salad.
– Don’t always go for a protein bar or shake to satisfy your hunger between meals. Fruits and vegetables can be some excellent power foods. This can be particularly important after you exercise to give you a boost of energy. I love a tangerine and a banana. Together, they are great to replenish your energy level.
– Pay attention to the contents of the beverages you drink, especially juices. Many juice brands on the market are significantly diluted with water and contain a lot of sugar. Not only do they give you too many calories, but they also are not giving you the amount of nutrition that you may think you’re getting. Read the labels carefully so you know what you’re getting. For optimal health, don’t buy a brand just because it’s on sale. You might also look into investing in a juicer. They aren’t all that expensive and you can make some wonderful juice and different juice blends that will be better than any juice you could buy.
– When choosing a baked potato, get creative in garnishing it. Some toping alternatives to butter or sour cream include salsa, grilled vegetables, stewed tomatoes, or plain maybe with a little sea salt and pepper. In addition, some people are conditioned to having a potato heated; but a cold potato with the right toppings is delicious – or try this: If you have a leftover potato in the fridge, slice it and throw it on your table top grill and brown it on both sides (or you can toss it in a skillet with a dab of olive oil). That’s a nice side item for your meal or a stand-alone between meal snack.
– If you’re like me, then you will love salads; however a salad can get pretty darned boring if you’re not creative. Add green peppers (or use different colored peppers), shredded cabbage or use a variety of different types of lettuce, apple or pear chunks, chunks of eggplant, shredded carrots, shredded butternut squash (yes it’s delicious raw), avocado, kiwi, chopped celery, and some beans. If you do it right, your salad can be a meal in itself. But like I mentioned earlier, be careful of the type of dressing you use. As I’m typing this, I am munching on a kale salad. I used some baby kale, sliced beets, sliced red onions, shredded carrots, chopped garlic, and I made my own dressing from cider vinegar, a little lime juice, and mix together. If you want to liven it up, toss in some sliced almonds or a handful of sunflower seeds.
– Make the most of your grilling, and don’t discount the benefit of a tabletop grill. Wrap your favorite vegetables in some foil, use some non-stick spray, and season with your favorite herbs and spices and place on your grill. Sometimes as a change, place the veggies on skewers. Grilled fruits are good too. I like placing pineapples, strawberries, peaches, and guava on skewers for grilling.
This is just a sampling of some of the things you can do to spice up your meals without all the fat and calories. Just a few changes can do wonders for your taste buds – and your waist line.