Twelve Tips For Eating Right

I have included twelve tips that I have made a part of my diet and everyday life.  They have helped me considerably in how I feel each day.  Take these tips and adapt them to your own lifestyle. 

  1. Drink Lots Of Water:  Your body is made mostly of water.  Doesn’t it make sense that you need a lot of it? 
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    Stay hydrated by drinking water.  Pour out the sugary drinks and replace them with water.  Most of the stuff you’re drinking doesn’t actually quench your thirst and may make you even thirstier.  Don’t be fooled by the fancy “sports drinks” either.  Many of these are nothing more than soda, without the bubbles.  Water is cleansing, rejuvenating and energizing.  To make sure you get enough water, take your body weight in pounds and divide it in half.  That is the minimum number of ounces of water that you should have per day.  For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, you should drink at least 90 ounces of water per day. 

  2. Fruits and Vegetables:  Most fruits and vegetables have a very high water content, many as high as 75-80%.  It should make sense to have these nutrient, water rich foods as an important part of a successful eating regimen.  I found, while creating my healthy diet, that it was very easy to eat fruit but it was more difficult to fit vegetables into my diet.  But you need to eat both and together they should be at least 70 percent of your overall food intake.  I came across an alarming study that found most adults are eating fewer vegetables than ever, even if you count french fries.lxxxvii   Here are some ways you can make sure that you don’t become another statistic.  As always, if you find something useful, incorporate it into your plan: 
      • Eat them raw.  This is the best way to get the maximum benefit.  Also, it will save time.  Many people skip vegetables simply because they don’t have the time to cook them. 
      • Look for prepackaged ones.  If you have tried and you just can’t stand raw vegetables then find ones that have most of the prep work done.  If they are already sliced, washed and chopped or peeled then it
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        will take much less time to prepare them. 

      • Spice them up.  Add herbs and spices to your vegetables to make them taste better. 
      • Make them into something.  Try making a vegetable soup or a pasta sauce with a variety of chopped vegetables. 
      • Hide them in other dishes.  Make an artichoke or spinach pizza. Put lettuce and tomatoes on your sandwich. 
      • It’s best to eat them raw and plain.  If you just can’t do this, then add other things to them.  Get creative.  The important thing is to make sure you eat them every day! 
      • Have a salad.  I try to have a salad with every meal.  It allows for variety and cuts down on the boredom of eating the same things all the time.  Try a fruit salad for breakfast and vegetables at lunch and/or dinner. 
      • Have juice.  If all else fails, make them into a juice; hold your nose and gulp them down.  I prefer to make juices that have fruits and vegetables.  The sweetness of the fruits makes them more appetizing (using overly ripened pineapple or oranges adds to the sweetness).  This isn’t the best way to get your vegetables, but it’s better than nothing.   
  3. Protein:  If you plan on following through on any significant exercise program, and I hope I have convinced you of the necessity of doing so, then you will need protein in your diet.  How much depends on how intense you are exercising and your individual needs.  To understand the importance of protein, you must have a basic understanding of what happens when you exercise and what role protein plays.  To keep it simple, you just need to understand that as you exercise, you are actually tearing your muscle fibers.  Protein is used by your body to rebuild these fibers.  Without it, you will rob your body of the food it needs to heal itself in order to
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    get ready for the next exercise session.  Types of protein include animal proteins such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, milk and cheese.  There are also plant-based proteins, such as beans, nuts and some vegetables.  You will need to experiment with how much your body needs.  The key is to listen to your body.  Your body will tell you exactly what type and how much protein you need.  After a short time, you will get good at listening.  You will be able to judge by your workout, exactly what your body needs. 

  4. Dark food:  I know that this is not the case with every single type of food, but a good rule to follow is always choose darker foods over lighter colored types of food.  Most light colored or white food is processed.  It is also important to know that dark food usually contains more vitamins and other nutrients that the body needs.  Start to do your own research on this and you will find that what I am saying will help you in your pursuit of better health.  The best research I have found is active experimentation.  See what foods work for you and notice the difference that you feel.  For example, if you start to use dark honey to sweeten things instead of white sugar, you will begin to feel better almost immediately.  Some other examples include using brown rice instead of white, dark fruit juices instead of light and whole grains instead of bleached white flour.   
  5. Choose Food Over Caffeine:  Learn to recognize high-energy foods and use them to replace the coffee that you normally use to give yourself the energy boost you need.  I know what you’re thinking, and I struggle with this one too, but as with most “quick fixes” in life, there is a down side.  By relying on caffeine or other drugs to get you through the day, you are putting stuff in your body that doesn’t belong there.  By relying on these
    Source: Obankston at wikimedia commons

    substances, your body usually requires more and more of them to achieve the same effect which leads to dependence on them just to help you get through the day. Instead, try choosing high-energy foods that will give you the boost you need, while at the same time, giving your body some essential nutrients.  Some good choices include beans (such as black or pinto).  These beans supply your body with a source of low-calories and steady energy; nuts and seeds work good as well.   If you want you can mix these into your own trail mix or learn to make homemade granola bars.  Also, try citrus fruits for a quick energy boost.  Try oranges, grapefruit or pineapples which are all great sources of vitamin C. 

  6. Variety: Add variety to your diet. It’s easy to get frustrated when your kids eat macaroni and cheese every night, but you probably never looked at your own behavior.  Have you been eating the same turkey sandwich every day for lunch?  It’s easy to get caught up in eating the same thing every day in our busy society. Besides, if you do that, then there is no thought required and less time figuring out what to eat. By eating the same thing day after day, you rob your body of crucial vitamins and minerals since there is no single food that satisfies every nutritional need.lxxxviii If you’ve been eating plain cheese pizza every day for 10 years, try chicken salad instead. You may be pleasantly surprised and, in the process, you may even add a new dimension of enjoyment to your day. 
  7. Regular Mealtimes:  I know that this is difficult for most people, but if you learn to eat at the same time daily, you will actually eat less.  Your body will become more effective at signaling to your brain when you are hungry and when you are full.  There will be times when it just isn’t possible, but strive for this.  Eating at the same time also allows you to avoid unscheduled snacking, which if done consistently, will derail any nutrition
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    program.  We all know that a well-planned, healthy and nutritious snack can supply us with much needed energy to keep us going when we feel tired or low on energy.  When the snacking is unplanned, there isconfusion in the body about when you will be eating again; then it tends to be harmful.  If you need a snack at a certain time of day, then plan it into your schedule.  It is common knowledge that it is beneficial to have more meals with smaller portions.  Schedule a small meal as your snack.  Just make sure your snackcontains ingredients that are beneficial for your body.  Most unplanned snacks contain food that is only food in the loosest sense of the word.  Also, use common sense.  A recent study found that dieters ate more food in a sitting when they were supplied with “mini packs” of food, such as the 100-calorie packs, that are being marketed today.  The small portion sizes make people feel as if they can worry less about going overboard.lxxxix  Eat low fat, high protein snacks or choose fruits and vegetables.  These choices will make you feel full until your next meal. 

  8. Read Labels: Don’t be fooled by our misleading, marketing driven society.  Read your food labels carefully.  Read what’s actually in your food and don’t skip over the big words that are difficult to pronounce; those are the important ones; research them.  Find out what they are and make your own decision about whether you want to put it into your body, based on your own research.  You may be surprised when you dig a little beneath the surface.  Many labels are designed to sell food, not to convey what’s actually inside the package.  You may look at a label that reads “100%* fruit juice,” and think that you’re getting the real thing, but if you follow the “*” down to the small print on the bottom or on the back label, you will see in tiny print, phrases like “with added ingredients.”  Read what those “added” ingredients are.  You may pick up a bottle of juice that calls itself raspberry/apple juice.  It may have an overwhelming number of raspberries in the picture on the label and maybe one small apple off in the corner; read the ingredients because it is very likely that you are about to purchase something that actually contains mostly apple juice and very little raspberry juice (or has raspberry flavoring)! 
  9. Avoid Processed Food:  I can make this really simple.  Food that is ground, bleached, sent through machines or otherwise processed is not good for you, period.  I know that many processed foods taste good and I catch myself getting fooled by their convenience.  They are not good for you!  These foods, in addition to what I mentioned above, are usually high in salt and fat.  Ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, which is getting a lot of bad press lately, is not good for you.  Chickens don’t have nuggets.  The list could be endless; bottom line is if it is “made” in a factory, don’t eat it.  Eat all-natural foods whenever possible.  Use common sense here too; don’t eat things just because they are “all natural” either.  You can take a walk in the forest and find many varieties of “all natural” poisonous mushrooms, but that doesn’t mean you should eat them.  The
    Photo by Pete at flickr

    rule to use here is to think about what you’re eating and ask yourself if it makes sense.  If you have to think too long, then don’t eat it. 

  10. Eat When Hungry:  Overeating is a problem in our society today.  The list of reasons for overeating is endless and a large segment of our society is overweight and even obese.  Remember to eat only when you are hungry.  Do not fall victim to the sin of gluttony.xc  Today, many people tend to use food to ease stress.  In a society where everything is fast paced and pressure is intense, don’t develop the habit of eating three bowls of ice cream at the end of the day as a comfort to help you relax.  Instead, find some type of activity that helps you to relax or try just taking some quiet time.  Don’t eat just because everyone else is eating.  We all want to “fit in,” but if you eat because you’re at a business meeting, holiday event or other type of party then you will be harming your regimen.  Lastly, in spite of everything you were taught growing up, you do not have to eat everything on your plate.  If you eat even when you’re not hungry, you cross over from being in control to gluttony.  If you really don’t want to waste the food on your plate and you shouldn’t want to; wrap the food and put it in the refrigerator.  You can have it tomorrow and you will save the time of having to prepare a meal.  Make sure you stop eating when you feel full! 
  11. Chew: Learn to enjoy your food. If you just sit down and eat as fast as you can, hoping to get on to your next activity, you are missing out on a lot of enjoyment.  Instead, slow down; learn to notice the different tastes and textures; to recognize the different spices.  Chewing your food thoroughly also helps with digestion.  Your body will absorb more of the nutrients and will work more efficiently and effectively while you are pursuing and working on the other principles in this program.  Set your fork down between bites and chew your food at least 20 times. 
  12. Give Thanks:  Sadly, we live in a world where many people go hungry every single day.  You have food in front
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    of you, so give thanks for it.  Acknowledge God for blessing you with His provision!  Don’t feel guilty or ashamed about the blessing you have received in the form of being able to nourish your body; that is not the point.  Just be thankful you have the blessing that God has given you!  Even if you don’t believe it, God supplied you with the food you ate today.  Many people fail to realize this and they assume that they are responsible and that they created this blessing in their life.  Remember, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you”xci 

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The above guidelines are meant as general rules only.  They are what worked for me and continue to work for me today.  Of course, it is your responsibility to make sure that you take your health into your own hands.  The tips I have just outlined will help keep you energized and vibrant as you work on the other Principles in this program.  Don’t expect to wake up tomorrow and suddenly be healthy and strong if it has been years since you exercised or ate anything that was actually healthy.  Just stay on track and gradually, over time, your health will improve. 

God Bless

Michael at R2W

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