If you discover that good nutrition does more than just helping you to maintain a healthy weight, would it surprise you? It shouldn’t, but even if it does, it is time you knew that having nutritional goals can:
- Boost your energy levels
- Reduce the risk of developing diabetes, osteoporosis, various cancers, and cardiovascular diseases
- Increase the speed of recovery from an illness or injury
- Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol
- Boost immunity levels
- Improve your well-being
Does that sound too good? Does it make you want to develop your own nutritional goals? The following tips may help:
1. Go for starchy as opposed to sugary carbs and fats
Sugary carbs are those that you can find in most sweet things. Consuming them in large quantities can have harmful consequences. Therefore, if you fill up more on starchy carbohydrates from wholegrain sources, you can feel full for longer. Some examples include potatoes with skins, rice, bread, pasta, and cereals.
When sitting down to one of the main meals of the day, try to include a starchy food at a minimum. Don’t think that these foods are calorific – they are – but much less than fats! In terms of calories, a gram of carbs has less than half the calories than a similar weight of fat!
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2. Experiment to expand nutritional benefits
When trying to eat healthily, we prefer to stick to familiar dishes. Such foods are usually easy to prepare and not time-consuming. However, restricting yourself to a few go-to options can be a bad thing in the long run. For one, you are bound to become bored with eating the same thing. You don’twant that to happen because it could potentially send you on an eating spree!
Secondly, when you limit the kind of foods you eat on a regular basis, you are also restricting the types of nutrients that you gain from them. You may be missing out on various antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that our body greatly benefits from. The source of these nutrients happens to be many fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and oils available to us.
3. Go for nutrient-big rather than big on bulk foods
This is an extrapolation of the preceding point. If you can find a variety of foods that are rich in various kinds of nutrients, you should preferably eat them. Choose them over something that is low on calories and has a smaller variety of nutrients.
4. Get SMART
To begin living a heart-healthier lifestyle, you will need to do more than just having nutritional goals. You’d need to have SMART goals. What are these? SMART is an acronym for:
Specific, which encourages the person making the goals to be as specific as they can. Instead of planning to walk more, you should specifically go on for 20 or 30 minutes – or longer – in your schedule.
Measurable, which indicates that your goals should be quantifiable or else you won’t know how much progress you have made. For instance, mark the days on your calendar when you will be skipping dessert.
Attainable points out that your goals should be divided into smaller ones. Each time you achieve the latter, you find yourself getting closer to the former. Walking 20 minutes every day might not be practical for someone who is also holding down two jobs. But if you set yourself up like that, you will feel as if you’ve failed.
Realistic is an extension of the previous point. You should have realistic goals. Instead of thinking you will always skip desserts, you may end up not skipping desserts at all.
Time-Oriented reminds us that there should be a timeframe within which we should complete our goals. Begin by choosing a short duration. For instance, you will walk for 20 minutes for a month.
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5. Put in as much hard work to maintain your new routine as you did developing/adopting it
It is relatively easy to plan the changes that we are going to make in our lives for a healthy future. We get caught in the enthusiasm and the excitement of something new to do initially. Later though, the fervor may wear off, and when that happens, we can fall back into our bad habits almost too easily. After all, we spent a long time cultivating those bad ones. Expecting yourself to just give up lifelong behaviors will only end in failure.
It is best to understand that the commitment to healthy living needs to be more than just a one-time thing. Once you realize that, you can take the following measures to ensure that you remain committed to your new, healthier lifestyle:
Be prepared to be caught unprepared
When you know that you will be facing setbacks, you can plan for them. For example, you might have planned to get your wholegrain bread, but suddenly it begins to rain. You can’t go out when it is pouring, and you can’t make the recipe without bread. But what you can do is have some alternate recipes at hand that won’t require bread!
Trash talk yourself
Okay, not literally. But revisiting your goals every once in a while can be a good chance for expanding them. For example, now you have become comfortable and feel full with two slices of bread or a helping of mashed potatoes at dinner. So, it is time to decrease the portion size further. Similarly, when your limited refined carbs intake is a done deal, you can move on to limiting your saturated fat intake as well.
Finally, we have saved the most useful piece of advice for last. When choosing nutritional goals, we’d advise you to just pick one goal initially. Keep at it for at least a month. As soon as you turn that goal into a habit, you can then choose another one. Once you have mastered that one too, just keep going. This way you are more likely to stick to your goals, instead of abandoning them halfway through!
Evie Harrison is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs. Find her on Twitter:@iamevieharrison