Guest Post by Daniel Brendt
In today’s fast-paced world, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy diet. Unfortunately, foods high in sugar, salt, and bad fats tend to be the most easily accessible foods, available at the nearest fast food restaurant, gas station, and grocery store. So, how do you keep yourself from succumbing to that pressure and maintain your health and fitness?
Here is a list of five tips that will help you stick to your diet without making extra time in your schedule.
Tip #1: Avoid Unnecessary Calories
This one seems like a no-brainer, but you would be amazed by how many extra and unnecessary calories the average person consumes every day. Starting in the morning, make your coffee black: a standard cup of black coffee only has about two calories, so if you can avoid adding cream or sugar, you’re already off to a good start. If you cook eggs in the morning, measure out a teaspoon of quality olive oil or coconut oil instead of drenching your food in fat.
Also, try to avoid salad dressings and condiments that contain unnecessary extra calories, sugars, and saturated fats. While it may be hard at first not to enhance the flavor of your food, you will begin to appreciate food as it is; when you begin to reduce the extra salts and sugars you add to your food, you’ll begin to taste the natural flavors in your food already.
Tip #2: Find Easy-to-Make Healthy Foods For Snacks and Lunch
Another problem with maintaining your diet is you never have a lot of time to find healthy options during work. From the half hour lunch rush to finding snacks for the afternoon, you are constantly rushed to make quick eating decisions. You can avoid this problem by finding healthy food options that are premade or quick to eat. Set aside two hours on your weekend to cook large batches of foods that you can parse out throughout the week.
For example, frozen vegetables are a great alternative to cooked fresh vegetables as a side to a meal. Also, granola bars and oatmeal are great pick-me-ups in the morning if you’re on the go — as long as you avoid the brands that pack their bars with chocolate chips and high fructose corn syrup instead of healthy grains and proteins.
Tip #3: Learn to Think About Your Food Before You Eat it
Food isn’t only enjoyed in your mouth and gut—your brain gets to enjoy a lot of the food experience. Try thinking about your food before, during, and after your meal, so you can slow down and comprehend what your body is taking in. Before you take a bite, consider exactly what it is that you’re putting into your body—is this going to provide the energy you need to sustain your busy schedule? Or is it loaded with unhealthy fat and sugar that will inevitably slow you down and lead you to fall asleep at your desk?
One study showed that participants who imagined eating many M&M candies before they actually ate them were more likely to eat less than those thought about eating less or did not think about it at all. Furthermore, smelling fresh fruit can suppress your appetite and make your mind pivot towards healthy eating. Now doesn’t that make you want to think before you drink or eat?
Tip #4: Eat Some Fruit Before Your Next Meal
Eating healthy snacks spaced throughout the day will help ease your appetite for unhealthy foods later on. Whether you choose an apple, an avocado, or a handful of almonds, eat small amounts of food throughout the day; it can help you reach your daily diet goals faster, since you will feel less hungry for the unhealthy foods that may be on your lunch or dinner plate.
To be clear though, this is not a blank check to eat as many small snacks as possible. According to health and wellness experts, eating several small meals can help you avoid overeating at your larger meals, however you need to make sure you’re not going over your daily calorie count from each of those snacks. If you stay mindful of your eating decisions throughout the day, you will maintain your diet goals for much longer.
Tip #5: Make a Plan to a Workout With A Friend
One of hardest tasks of sticking to a diet is keeping up your daily exercise, especially if you have to force yourself to the gym after a long, hard day of work. So instead of making your workout a chore, make it a fun activity with a friend or co-worker. You will burn calories and enjoy yourself while you exercise together.
When you work out with a friend, you can push each other to do more exercise, which will make you achieve your fitness goals faster. If you can, find a friend who already has a steady workout routine in place—like any athletic endeavor, working out with someone who is better than you is the fastest, most surefire way to get better yourself.
If you’re really serious about making time for the gym, make a betting pool for your training—there are apps that will actually deduct money from your bank account if you fail to show up at the gym. Believe it or not, it works!
Daniel Brendt is a freelance blogger who has been writing about health, fitness, and nutrition for nearly 10 years. In addition to writing, he has worked with several small business owners like Bare Performance Nutrition as a marketing consultant and strategist.