Trying to eat healthier? Here are some practical tips

There is danger lurking in the kitchen! So often snacks and junk food calls our name and we unconsciously buy it even when we have the best of intentions. However, there are some basic behaviors that we can use to tighten up and lighten up, and it starts with our surroundings.

Planning meals instead of just trying to figure out what to eat on the spur of the moment can help a lot! Generally people reach for what is easiest, so obviously the best strategy is to not have unhealthy junk food in the house. Meal planning and grocery shopping go hand in hand. Having good, healthy food available and easy to see makes it more likely that you will reach for them.

So first things first. Clear the countertops of cookie jars or candy jars or whatever you might have that really will destroy your motivation to eat right. Instead put out a fruit bowl or make sure that fresh fruit is first thing you see when you open the fridge.

Especially make sure that the fruit you have on hand is easy to serve, like bananas, apples, grapes and berries, as opposed to mangoes or pineapples, which take a little effort to get ready.

Limit the calorie dense foods such as starches, and fats and have low calorie fruits and veggies ready to eat in the fridge. Store them in clear containers so you can see them the moment you open the fridge.

When you put away leftovers, use meal-size containers so that you can think about saving the leftovers for the next day’s meal rather than reheating them later as a “snack.” If you don’t have definite plans for the leftovers, stick them in the freezer so you won’t be tempted. This helps you have a complete meal on hand, too, and will save you from ordering in the next time you don’t know what to serve.

Keep the snacks that you want to introduce into your diet — such as the fresh fruit and veggies — at eye level in the fridge. You want to trick yourself into seeing the readily available snacks rather than thinking there is nothing in the fridge to eat easily.

Home-cooked food is almost always healthier than take out or restaurant food, so it is important that cooking at home is fun and as easy as possible.

Brighten up your kitchen and keep it clear of clutter so that you have a good work space to prepare the foods that you will enjoy. Getting some great kitchen tools makes the job easier, too, and focuses your mind on the big goal of healthy eating and lifestyle.

Somethings are going to have to be removed from the grocery shopping list permanently. The whole family needs to commit to eating healthy and living well or else it sets everyone up for failure. Parents likely have to take charge and simply state that certain foods do not belong in a healthy family.

Obviously, special occasions will call for some less than healthy choices but they should be just that — special occasions.

Hanging out with healthy minded people can help too. Try to cultivate friendships with others who are involved in activities, working out and eating well. It helps a lot!

When people eat anywhere in the house while doing other things like watching TV or working on the computer, it can undermine their dedication to healthy eating simply because they are eating unawares. By confining eating to the dining room or the kitchen eating becomes a conscious activity and a social one.

The plate size is important. People tend to finish what they put on their plate. So using a smaller sized plate can help you keep the portion size under control. Glasses too. A tall glass looks like you have more rather than a wide one, even though the portion is the same size. Use small plates and tall glasses to keep the food quantity appropriate.

These little tricks will help you keep with your commitment to eat healthier. Putting a little reminder on the fridge — a photo or you in healthier days, or a person that you admire for their commitment to health, will stop the munchies and help your resolve. Be healthy!


Jane Riley is a certified personal trainer, adviser and behavior change specialist. She can be reached or (808) 212-8119 and


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