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Six Simple Ways to Eat Healthier

With so much advice and content out there on how to eat well, it sometimes feels like information overload. Between all the latest diet fads and weight loss hacks, eating healthy (especially when you're hungry) can be complicated and overwhelming.

But in reality, it doesn’t have to be. What matters is that you use common sense, make good choices and stick to the basics. The following common sense quick-tips can help teach you how to start eating healthier … and maybe even have a little fun in the process:

1. Choose whole foods instead of processed foods.

Sounds simple enough, but what is a whole food anyway and why does it matter? Generally speaking, whole foods can best be described as plant foods that are unprocessed and unrefined — or processed and refined as little as possible — before being consumed. Examples of whole foods include grains, legumes, nuts, fruits, vegetables, etc. 

On the other hand, processed foods are defined as foods that have been altered or otherwise removed from their natural state as a result of chemical, biological and/or mechanical means. Even the most innocent looking foods have likely been subjected to ‘processing’ in some way, shape or form. Milk, for example, is pasteurized, which is a mild heat process used to eliminate pathogens and extend shelf life.

It’s important to note that the way a food item is processed often reduces its nutritional value and ironically also increases the likelihood of leaving you hungry and wanting to consume more. Bottom line? Eat whole foods instead of processed foods whenever possible. 

Besides being unhealthy, sugar-sweetened drinks may also be addictive, suggests a 2018 study at the University of California, Davis. Findings noted that young people between the ages of 13 and 18 — deprived of sugary drinks for just a few days — reported cravings, difficulty concentrating, headaches and other withdrawal-like symptoms. 

Researchers found that regular consumption of sugary drinks can also lead to a number of chronic conditions directly related to obesity like diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Studies have shown that young people consume the largest amounts of sugary beverages, so it’s no surprise that empty calories from sugar-sweetened drinks like juice and soda are a major factor in childhood obesity.

The solution? If you must have something sweet, try replacing soda and other sugar-filled drinks with healthy alternatives like Zeal or Zeal+, which contain the naturally occurring sweetener crystalline fructose and are packed with nutrients and minerals. Other options include sugar-free (or low in sugar) flavored carbonated water or even low-fat/no fat milk. Reducing our overall intake of sugar-sweetened beverages is an important first step towards developing and modeling healthier habits. 

2. Keep healthy foods readily available at home and at work.

The easiest way to stay healthy at work or on the run is to have healthy snacks or between meal options readily available. Consider stocking up on all natural Zurvita Protein, made with the most nutrient-rich ingredients and powerful superfood, rice bran. Available in Chocolate Delight and Vanilla Crème, Zurvita Protein is convenient, ideal for busy people on-the-go   and the perfect snack when combined with Zeal and other nutritional options like fruits or vegetables.

Also, consider having the following healthy snacks handy:

  • fruit/veggies
  • nuts/seeds
  • low calorie protein bars
  • low fat yogurt
  • low fat cottage cheese
  • nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew)
  • plain oatmeal packets
  • granola or trail mix
  • pita chips
  • rice cakes
  • air-popped popcorn
  • dried seaweed

Snacking better doesn’t have to break the bank either. The above suggestions are just a snapshot of healthy options available at most regular grocery stores. So, when we get ‘hangry’ between meals (and we all know that’s a thing), instead of reaching for that candy bar or handfuls of cheese balls, let’s go for the good stuff.

3. Check nutrition labels carefully before you buy.

Most packaged foods have a clearly identifiable ‘Nutrition Facts’ label. Here are a handful of tips for reading these labels and making smarter choices:  

  • Check servings and calories. Make note of the serving size as well as how many servings you are actually eating.
  • When looking at food nutrition labels, make your calories count. First check the calories and then compare them with nutrients offered to determine whether the food is worth eating.
  • Choose foods and beverages low in added sugar.Some names of added sugars to be aware of include glucose, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and maple syrup.
  • Reducing daily salt intake has been shown to help reduce the risk of high blood pressure — so be sure to read nutrition labels and choose foods that are lower in sodium and higher in potassium.
  • To help reduce the risk of heart disease, look for foods low in saturated, trans fats and cholesterol. Most fats you consume should be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated such as those in nuts, fish and vegetable oils. Recommended total fat intake should be in the 20-35% range of calories for adults.

Now that you have a better understanding of Nutrition Facts labels, make it a habit to start reading them carefully before putting that food item in your cart. The moral of the story is, next time you’re out buying groceries, keep checking those labels — after all, practice makes perfect. 

5. Drink more water and stay well-hydrated.

Every cell, tissue and organ in the body needs water in order to be healthy and function properly. At a minimum, we should aim to drink six to eight glasses of water per day — so if you find that staying hydrated is difficult, here are some tips that can help:

  • Always keep a bottle of water with you during the day
  • Make sure to drink water before, during and after exercise
  • If you’re not a fan of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or lime
  • When you get that hunger pain between meals, drink water. Research suggests it can help you feel full
  • If you have trouble remembering to drink water regularly, try having a small glass every hour or two
  • When dining out, ask for water. It will help to keep you hydrated, and as an added bonus, it’s free

Our H2O from our Zurvita Performance line is no replacement to water. However, it can act as a healthy alternative to help keep you properly hydrated while also giving you a burst of energy. Plus, it’s for all ages. Yes, even for the little ones too.

Keep in mind that our bodies need water to regulate temperature, lubricate joints and maintain overall good health. So, remember … fill your cup and drink it up.

6. Eat smaller portions and eat more mindfully.

Everyone knows that healthy eating means paying attention to what you eat throughout the day — but equally important — watch your portion sizes. If you find that you’re biting off more than you can chew, make it a point to consume smaller amounts.

You can even use visual cues to determine portion size — for example, a serving of carbs should be about the size of a hockey puck and a serving of protein should be the size of a deck of cards.

Beyond portion control, slow down at mealtime. The benefits of eating slowly include better digestion, greater hydration, and it’s a much more enjoyable way to savor and appreciate your food. 

To start eating more mindfully, work on chewing your food slowly, ideally between 10 and 15 seconds before swallowing. Slowing down will also delay the time between bites and ultimately help reduce your overall food intake.

If you incorporate the above rules into your diet on a regular basis, but occasionally have a sweet tooth or crave a fast food fix — relax and go for it — in moderation, of course. Eating delicious food is one of life’s guilty pleasures, just make sure to get back on track, make conscious choices and stay focused on the end goal of living a healthier lifestyle.