Trying to be more sensible about your eating habits can be perfectly well-intentioned but still ultimately unsuccessful if the process makes it less enjoyable for you while dining. Eating is often considered a pleasurable activity, and being more restrictive, even in the pursuit of greater health, can sap the enjoyment from it completely. Fortunately, there are ways you can implement a more structured and health-focused eating plan without suffering the unhelpful boredom that comes from rigid dieting.

How to Eat Healthier without Compromising Enjoyment

Introduce a New Healthy Food Once a Week

If you already have an adventurous palate, start introducing new foods into your diet with a view to replacing unhealthy items with healthier ones. For example, swap potatoes for other vegetables in a meal if you want to reduce the fat in your diet. Drink fruit juice instead of carbonated drinks at mealtimes so you still get your sugar fix but without all the additives. Not only will this help you to gradually swap out unhealthy food for healthier alternatives, but it will also help you discover new foods you might never have tried otherwise.

Try Cutting Down on Meat

There is an ongoing debate about whether or not a diet with regular meat intake has detrimental effects on a person’s health. Some people argue that a plant-based diet doesn’t provide enough protein, whereas vegetarians and vegans could list many non-animal products that contain plenty of protein. Perhaps if you eat the best veggie burger you will discover that you can start to pivot towards a healthier plant-based diet.

Don’t Keep Treats in the House

Some people are extremely good cooks, don’t eat a lot of meat, and try new foods on a regular basis. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t suffer from unhealthy eating habits. Even if you eat three healthy meals a day, you can ruin your health by choosing to eat high sugar or high-fat foods between meals. A great way to reduce your snacking habit is to resist the temptation to stock up on snacks in the house. This means that if you truly want something indulgent or sweet, then you must make the effort to go out and buy it for yourself. When confronted with this decision, you might decide that you weren’t hungry after all, or if you do still want the snack, you have to make a physical effort to obtain it.

Make Your Own Food

Sometimes the main reason for an unhealthy diet is the convenience of eating meals that are prepared by someone else and reheated at home. When you take the time to cook for yourself using ingredients you are familiar with, you can choose to make healthier options. You become better acquainted with the process of making a meal and appreciating the effort that goes into preparing food. If you notice that you use a lot of salt in your cooking, for example, you can consciously reduce your salt levels to manage your diet better.

Annalise O'Conner is a Registered Dietitian and Personalized Nutritionist. She is a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, teaching nutrition in the School of Public Health and APAN (Asian Pacific Islander American Network) Email: [email protected]

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