Your May Healthy Habits
Post written by Leo Babauta.
We’re a few days into the month, and if all is going well, you’re starting a 2nd (or perhaps renewing a 1st) healthy eating habit.
If you haven’t, you can read my suggestions for a new Mindful Diet habit.
For those of you who are getting started with a new habit, I have a few notes to help you start:
- Mindful eating – if you didn’t successfully form a mindful eating habit this past month, you can take a second (or perhaps first) shot at it this coming month. Start small, with one meal a day, focusing for at least the first 5 minutes on eating mindfully, on how you feel, whether you’re hungry or eating out of habit or because of stress or boredom, the look, smell and taste of the food — learn to pay attention, one at a time, to everything about the experience. Slowly expand this habit each week, to 10 minutes, then a 2nd meal, then a snack or a 3rd meal.
- Veggies – add some delicious veggies to one meal. If you normally eat eggs for breakfast, scramble them with some spinach and mushrooms. Add steamed veggies as a side dish to your lunch or dinner, or a side salad. Cook veggies in stir-frys, put them in soups, chili, spaghetti sauce. Saute them with olive oil and garlic and some black pepper. Start with a small amount, and pay close attention to the good things about the veggies, and learn to enjoy them. Your taste buds will slowly change.
- Healthy breakfast – choose a healthy breakfast option and make that your habit. I enjoy steel-cut oats with raw almonds, raisins, berries, ground flaxseeds. Or Greek or soy yogurt with the same additions. Scrambled eggs or tofu with veggies is another good option.
- Water or (unsweetened) tea – if you regularly drink a beverage with calories, try replacing it with water or tea. Get rid of the unhealthy options in your environment, and have plenty of water or tea ready to go when you get the urge to drink. You might start with just one or two drinks in the morning or afternoon, then expand each week. Notice the freshness and lightness as you enjoy the cleaner beverage, and notice your taste buds change with time.
- Meal plan – if you are fairly good at healthy eating already but want to lose a few pounds, try creating a meal plan and sticking to it 5 out of 7 days. Create a spreadsheet with healthy meals, and look up the nutrition info of each ingredient in an online database (here’s a good one). Let the spreadsheet add up the totals for each meal – calories, protein, carbs, fats, calcium and iron are the nutrients I put on my spreadsheet. Then add up the totals for each day.Â Â If you’re trying to lose the last of your body fat, shoot for a 500-calorie deficit or so from your maintenance calorie needs. If you’re trying to gain muscle, shoot for a 500-cal surplus, especially on training days, and a 1g protein per lb. of bodyweight daily total. You don’t need to be absolutely rigid about the meal plan, but you can shoot for 5 days out of 7.
- Lower grains – While I am not a proponent of Paleo eating, I do think most people could cut out processed/refined grains. Try eating meals with no grains (maybe with some beans instead) or whole and unprocessed grains such as brown rice, quinoa, steel-cut oats or bulgur wheat. If you normally eat rice, try cooking quinoa instead — it’s an incredibly healthy alternative. If you eat bread, try flourless, sprouted-grain bread or wraps. Instead of pastries, make healthy sweet alternatives like yogurt with berries, or fruit smoothies. You might start with one meal per day and then expand each week.
- Lower meat – try eliminating red meat one meal a day, and focusing on fish or vegetarian meals. There are good options in The Mindful Diet recipes. Start with one meal per day, then two, etc.
- Fruits – if you normally eat sweet snacks, try eating fruits instead when you get a sweet-snack craving. Eat the fruit slowly, savoring it, and drink water as well. Brushing your teeth also helps with cravings.