12 Steps to a Healthier Diet: National Women's Health Week

Savor the flavor of new foods.

It’s National Women’s Health Week, so what better time to get revved up and set some goals to lose a few pounds or to eat healthier. But making healthy changes and keeping them is not always so easy to do. However, there are some strategies for incorporating healthier eating into your lifestyle that are not too cumbersome or require too much compromise.

10 Steps to More Exercise: National Women's Health Week A few simple tips to get you started:

#1. Focus on Adding Not Just Subtracting

For many individuals who are considering eating healthier, their first thought is to take away as many things as possible from their diet. For newbie transitioners, it might be easier to try an additive approach. If you begin your healthy eating regime by adding new and different tasty foods to your diet, you may find yourself feeling fuller, more satisfied and less apt to crave unhealthy foods.

#2. Explore New Foods

12 Steps to a Healthier Diet: National Women's Health Week

Try adding goji berries to your cereal for an antioxidant boost.

Start trying something new every other day of the week. For example, you may wish to add a fruit or vegetable that you have never tried before, or you may want to try whole-grain bread as opposed to a plain white bread. By trying new things, you open up the possibilities of discovering foods that are not only healthy for you, but that you truly enjoy, as well.

#3. Start Where You Shop

The old adage  “if it is in the house, you will eat it”, could not be any truer. If you bring home processed convenience foods, chips, cookies, ice cream and cake, you will have easy access and less willpower. (I know, because this has sabotaged my healthy intentions on many occasions.) Out of sight = Out of mind. So, avoid buying large quantities of  unhealthy foods and you will be fine when you discover that you have run out of those “not so healthy” treats.

#4. Incorporate Foods of Different Colors

12 Steps to a Healthier Diet: National Women's Health Week

Expand your palate with foods of different colors.

Examine the food groups and see if you can incorporate foods of various colors into your daily menus. For example, peppers come in a variety of colors and if you haven’t tried a yellow or orange pepper, now may be a good time to do so. If your theme color of the week is orange, try a tangelo, for example.

#5. Use Images for Inspiration

By posting messages about what various healthy foods can do for different parts of the body, you will have even more incentives to eat right for the right reasons. Place inspiring photos of beautiful skin, hair, nails, and a healthy heart on your fridge to create constant reminders of the good you are doing for yourself and as well as your family.

#6. Replace with Healthy Substitutions

12 Steps to a Healthier Diet: National Women's Health Week

Enjoy tasty but healthier subsitutions for your favorite foods.

If you are trying to eat healthy but want to keep some of your favorite items in your meal plan, think about healthy substitutions. Try air-popped popcorn instead of butter-topped. Or opt for brown rice instead of white rice. Use stevia in recipes instead of sugar. Eat raw almonds instead of an Almond Joy bar.

#7. Hold a Family Meeting

Call a family meeting and ask others to be respectful of your newfound decision to eat healthier. Tell them that they are not forced to join you, but it would be nice. Also, let them know that they are to support and encourage you by not eating unhealthy foods in front of you. This request has a double benefit–your family may be influenced by your good habits without being forced to do so.

#8. Enlist the Involvement of Friends at Work

Ask your office friends to join you on this new adventure of eating healthier. Have everyone contribute by bringing in a new food, fruit, or vegetable once a week. Take turns and make it fun. At the end of the week, take a vote and give out a small prize or incentive for the most creative and tasty food or healthy treat.

#9. Hold a Healthy Eating Potluck

12 Steps to a Healthier Diet: National Women's Health Week

Enjoy sharing healthier food options with friends and family with a healthy food potluck.

Invite friends and families over at the beginning of your new decision. Have everyone bring a healthy dish to a potluck style dinner. Have them place index cards with the recipes on it that so others can take them home.

#10. Illustrate the Health Benefits

Educate yourself about healthier ingredients and preparation techniques. By studying healthy cookbooks and placing index cards around the kitchen showing the difference in calories between heavy cream and low fat yogurt in a recipe, for example, you will have useful visual aids that remind you how you are helping your body stay healthy by eating healthy.

#11. Try Not to Deprive Yourself

12 Steps to a Healthier Diet: National Women's Health Week

Grab some fresh fruit instead of cake or cookies.

One of the worst things you can do is to deprive yourself of a treat or a snack. Some individuals crave chocolate treats while others crave salty snacks. Whatever the case may be, there are so many alternatives to high-calorie snacks, which will still keep you completely satisfied. Try to keep a healthy alternative on hand to quell those cravings. Grab some fresh fruit instead of cookies. Peanuts or cashews are just as salty as potato chips, but are better for you.

Once you implement these steps and see for yourself that the results of eating healthy are numerous, you are more than likely to stick to the plan. Eating healthy helps both your body and your mind. A diet rich in required nutrients contributes to health benefits such as lower cholesterol, a healthy heart, and even a sharper memory. Besides losing weight and feeling great, these wonderful bonuses that can lead to a healthier lifestyle.

What steps are you taking to eat healthier? Share your experiences, tips and suggestions with us.