1. Cook a big batch of grain or beans once a week.
2. Drink your coffee and tea black.
No cream, no sugar. You’ll get used to it. And it will encourage you to drink good coffee that doesn’t taste like burning!
3. Remember this HANDy guide to help keep your portion sizes reasonable.
Fist = 1/2 cup, palm = 3 oz. meat, fingertip = teaspoon, thumb = tablespoon.
4. Harness the power of secret (healthy) ingredients.
You’re more likely to stay on the Good Nutrition Train long term if you learn how to make healthier versions of foods you really enjoy eating, instead of ditching them entirely for virtuous (but sad) alternatives.
For instance: Swap half (not all) of the potatoes in mashed potatoes for cauliflower — they’ll still taste like delicious mashed potatoes, but will be way less of a starch-bomb.
5. Roast instead of fry.
This goes for pretty much everything, from chicken fingers and french “fries” to vegetables at large. Roasting at high temperatures still gives food a flavorful crispy outside (thank you, Maillard reaction) with vastly less oil required, and way less mess.
6. Start observing Meatless Mondays.
Cooking without meat forces you to get more creative and eat more vegetables, both of which are life skills that will serve you well all seven days of the week. If you’re already vegetarian, try eating vegan on Mondays and see how it goes.
Check out our Pinterest board for lots of yummy veggie recipes to get you started.
7. Always pick non-processed snacks.
Stick with fruits and veggies, nuts, or food you made yourself. Even when it has more calories, you’ll get more nutritional bang for your buck, avoid all the junk that comes in processed food (fat, sugar, salt, artificial dyes, preservatives, etc., etc., etc.) and skip the wasteful packaging.
8. When you’re at a bar or a party, have a glass of water in between every drink.
This is a great way to a) stay generally hydrated, b) consume fewer liquid calories, and c) NOT get schwasty-faced.
9. Bring lunch to work at least once a week.
Anything you make yourself is likely to be healthier than what you’d buy instead. But it’s hard to make the time, so start slow: Make a lunch for yourself on Sunday to bring to work the next day. The more you do it, the more you’ll get into the habit. Check out these ideas for what to make.
10. Make smarter snacking choices.
These simple 100-calorie food swaps are easy enough to become part of your regular routine.
11. Eat all the vegetables on your plate before you eat anything else.
Preventative measures: Fill up on the healthy stuff and then only eat as much mac ‘n’ cheese as you have room for. Adding a regular salad course to your dinner every day is a great way to do this.
12. Use at least half whole-grain flour in baking recipes.
A life without cake and cookies is no life at all. But you’d be surprised at the number of treats that taste just as good (or better) with whole grain flour as they do with plain old all-purpose. You’ll get more fiber, more protein, and less of an empty-calorie crash.
That said, baking is tricky; changing flours can change the structure and texture of what you’re making, so start by subbing just part of the flour and see how it works. Also play around with flours that aren’t made with wheat (corn, oat, rye, spelt, etc) or not even made from grain (almond or coconut). Kim Boyce’s book Good to the Grain is a great resource for recipes and ideas like these yummy spelt-flour chocolate cookies.
13. Join a CSA.
CSA = community-supported agriculture. You prepay a seasonal subscription fee directly to a farmer (or multiple farmers) and, in exchange, get a lovely array of fresh fruits/vegetables on a regular basis throughout the growing season. It’s great for you because it forces you to eat more fresh food and to cook more in general.
14. Drink seltzer instead of soda.
Even diet soda isn’t so hot for your teeth or your waistline. Stick with seltzer or water and dress it up with lime or lemon, a sprig of a fresh herb, or a few drops of cocktail bitters to add flavor without adding sugar.
15. Eat savory proteins and vegetables for breakfast instead of carbs and sweets.
This kind of food will keep you full longer and avoid a sugar crash halfway through the morning. People in Japan and tons of other countries around the world have been up on this jam for centuries; get with it!
Check out these simple recipes for putting together Japanese-style breakfasts and low-carb breakfast ideas.
16. Use smaller plates.
Science says: Large plates make you think you have a relatively smaller amount of food, so you’ll feel less satisfied and want more. So game your own brain by serving rich food on little dishes.
17. When you’re cooking eggs, use twice as many whites as yolks.
Going all-egg-white on a scramble, omelet or frittata isn’t much fun for anyone, but you can cut out a lot of saturated fat and still end up with something delicious by ditching around half the yolks and adding extra whites instead.
18. Eat as many colors as you can every day.
Bright colors in fruits and vegetables usually signify concentrated nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.), which are very good for you. The more different colors you eat, the more diverse the range of nutrients you’re getting.
19. Make smart ingredient swaps.
Get ideas for lots of clever ways to substitute healthy ingredients here.
20. Sneak seeds into everything.
And guess what walks and talks like a grain but is SECRETLY A SEED? That’s right, it’s quinoa.
21. Have a piece of fruit with breakfast instead of a glass of juice.
It’s all about that fiber, baby (and juice doesn’t have any).
22. Try to eat meals that are at least half vegetables.
Yes, even breakfast (here are some ideas).