I try to be a healthy person. I exercise semi-regularly, and I watch what I eat. But eating healthy isn’t always easy, which is why I have laid out a few ground rules for myself.
These rules are more guidelines than absolutes. I do break them from time to time, but just having rules means I am always aware of them, which in turn makes abiding by them that much easier. I’m always tweaking them, so they are subject to change. Here are my ten rules for healthy-ish eating:
1. No soda. No juice.
As many of you know, soda has a ton of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup, but you might be surprised to discover that juice also has an unhealthy amount of sugar. Just because juice is fruit flavored, it doesn’t make it good for you. So I stay away from soda and juice.
Not only do I think it’s important to avoid drinking sugar, but I think it’s a good idea to avoid drinking carbs altogether (the exception I make is an occasional alcoholic beverage). I stick to water in almost all situations. I don’t even drink coffee (not that I’m against caffeine, I just don’t find a need for it).
2. No fast food.
What I define as fast food is any restaurant that typically comes with an attached drive-thru. I make an exception for In-n-Out (I live in California), not because it’s good (which it is), but because of the quality of their ingredients. And sometimes on road trips, convenience is a necessary evil.
3. Never eat out more than once in a day.
There are a couple of reasons for this: 1. It’s impossible to gauge all of the ingredients a restaurant kitchen puts into a meal. It’s almost guaranteed my home cooking will be healthier. 2. It’s expensive to eat out all the time. If I’m in a situation where I’m not near a kitchen or I can’t pack a meal, then I try to find something healthy-ish at a grocery store to eat.
4. Don’t buy sweets at the grocery store.
If I buy a tub of cookies at the grocery store, I’m going to binge eat a tub of cookies when I get home, and ignore all of the healthy stuff I just bought. I don’t shun sweets altogether, but if I want dessert, I force myself to leave the house to get it.
5. Don’t skip meals.
Even when I don’t feel like eating, I force myself to eat something. This keeps me from bingeing at my next meal, and it ensures I have the energy to stay productive throughout the day.
6. Stop eating before the full feeling sets in.
There is a delay between your stomach being full and your brain registering your stomach being full. If you don’t stop eating until after that full feeling sets in, it’s already too late.
7. Cook whenever possible.
If I can cook a meal in my own kitchen , I cook a meal in my own kitchen. Frozen foods and the microwave don’t count. Real food must be involved.
8. Eat the leftovers.
When I cook, I end up with leftovers. I force myself to eat those leftovers for lunches until they are gone. This does a couple of things: 1. It keeps me from being wasteful. If leftovers don’t get eaten, they get thrown out. 2. It saves money. 3. It saves time. Leftovers mean less planning and less cooking.
9. Take it easy on the red meat.
I try to stick to chicken, ground turkey, and fish when I cook at home. Sometimes, I’ll have a steak or burger, but only on rare occasions. I keep red meat of my regular meal rotation.
10. Plan ahead.
Failing to plan inevitably leads to me opting for the most convenient solution. And the convenient solution is usually an unhealthy one. So I take a little time each week to plan out when and what I am going to cook. I then write that down on my calendar for future reference.
Those are my rules for healthy eating. They might not be right for you, and they definitely aren’t perfect, but hopefully you found something to inspire you moving forward.