Are you looking for ways to start eating healthy? If so, you’re in luck! Here are 20 food hacks to help you make smarter, healthier food choices that will support your health goals. From finding healthy food near you to preparing meals in advance, these hacks will make it easier to stick to your nutrition plan. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated – these hacks will help you make it a breeze!
1) Make Your Own Salad Dressing
Store-bought salad dressings often contain added sugars, unhealthy oils, and artificial ingredients that can sabotage your healthy eating goals. Luckily, making your own salad dressing is easy and allows you to control the ingredients you use.
Start with a base of extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil, which are both healthy fats that can help with nutrient absorption. Add in a splash of vinegar, such as apple cider or balsamic, for tanginess and a hint of sweetness. To elevate the flavor, experiment with different herbs and spices like garlic, Dijon mustard, or dried Italian seasoning. You can also incorporate a touch of sweetness with a drizzle of honey or a sprinkle of stevia.
Not only does making your own salad dressing give you full control over the flavors, but it also allows you to customize it to your preferences and dietary needs. Plus, you’ll save money in the long run and reduce waste by using up ingredients you already have on hand. So next time you’re craving a delicious and healthy salad, skip the store-bought dressings and whip up your own creation. Your taste buds and waistline will thank you!
2) Swap Out Processed Snacks for Whole Foods
One of the easiest ways to eat healthier is to swap out processed snacks for whole foods. Processed snacks, such as chips, cookies, and candy, are often high in added sugars, unhealthy fats, and artificial ingredients. On the other hand, whole foods are natural and provide essential nutrients that your body needs.
Instead of reaching for a bag of potato chips, try snacking on air-popped popcorn or a handful of nuts. Popcorn is a whole grain and provides fiber, while nuts are packed with healthy fats, protein, and vitamins. You can also try making your own fruit and vegetable chips by thinly slicing them and baking them in the oven.
If you’re craving something sweet, opt for fresh fruits instead of sugary treats. Fruits are not only delicious but also provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Try pairing a juicy apple with a dollop of nut butter for a satisfying and nutritious snack.
Another great alternative to processed snacks is homemade energy balls or bars. These can be made with wholesome ingredients like oats, nuts, dried fruits, and honey. They are easy to make, portable, and can be customized to your taste preferences.
By swapping out processed snacks for whole foods, you’ll not only improve your overall health but also feel more energized and satisfied throughout the day.
3) Add Vegetables to Your Smoothies
Smoothies are a great way to pack in essential nutrients, and one way to make them even healthier is by adding vegetables. While most people think of smoothies as fruit-based, adding vegetables can provide a boost of vitamins, minerals, and fiber without sacrificing taste.
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, or Swiss chard are excellent choices for adding to smoothies. They blend well with other ingredients and have a mild taste that is easily masked by the sweetness of the fruit. These greens are also rich in iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C.
Another vegetable that can be added to smoothies is cucumber. Cucumber adds hydration and a refreshing taste to your smoothie. It is also low in calories and packed with vitamins K and C.
Carrots are another vegetable that works well in smoothies. They add natural sweetness and a vibrant color. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body.
If you want to take your smoothie to the next level, try adding beets. Beets are a great source of antioxidants and are known for their detoxifying properties. They can add a beautiful, rich color to your smoothie as well.
When adding vegetables to your smoothies, start with a small amount and gradually increase as your taste buds adjust. Experiment with different combinations and find what works best for you. With a little creativity, you can create delicious and nutrient-packed smoothies that will help you on your journey to a healthier lifestyle.
4) Use Greek Yogurt as a Healthy Substitute
Greek yogurt is not only a delicious and versatile ingredient, but it can also be used as a healthy substitute in many recipes. Whether you are looking to cut down on calories or add more protein to your diet, Greek yogurt can be a great option.
One way to use Greek yogurt as a substitute is in baking. It can be used as a replacement for ingredients like butter, oil, or sour cream. By using Greek yogurt instead of these higher-fat ingredients, you can significantly reduce the calorie content of your baked goods without sacrificing flavor or texture.
Another way to incorporate Greek yogurt into your diet is by using it as a creamy base for dressings, sauces, or dips. It can be used as a replacement for mayonnaise or heavy cream, adding a tangy and rich flavor to your dishes.
Greek yogurt can also be used as a topping for pancakes or waffles, instead of sugary syrups or whipped cream. It adds a creamy and tangy element to your breakfast without the added sugars.
Additionally, Greek yogurt can be used as a healthier alternative to sour cream or cream cheese in savory dishes like tacos or baked potatoes. It provides a similar creamy texture and tangy flavor, but with a fraction of the calories and fat.
Overall, using Greek yogurt as a healthy substitute in your recipes can help you cut down on unhealthy fats and calories, while still enjoying delicious and satisfying meals. So, next time you are cooking or baking, give Greek yogurt a try and see how it can enhance your dishes while keeping them nutritious.
5) Make Your Own Trail Mix
Trail mix is a popular snack choice for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, but it’s also a great option for those who want to eat healthier. Store-bought trail mixes can often be loaded with added sugars and unhealthy oils, so making your own allows you to control the ingredients and create a healthier snack.
Start with a base of nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pumpkin or sunflower seeds. These provide protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Then, add some dried fruit such as cranberries, raisins, or apricots for a touch of sweetness. You can also mix in some dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs for a decadent twist.
To make your trail mix even more flavorful, add some spices like cinnamon or nutmeg, or sprinkle in some cocoa powder for a chocolatey flavor. Mix everything together in a large bowl, then portion out into individual servings for a quick and easy snack on the go.
Making your own trail mix not only allows you to avoid added sugars and unhealthy oils, but it’s also a budget-friendly option compared to buying pre-made mixes.
6) Use Spices and Herbs to Flavor Food
One of the best ways to eat healthier without sacrificing taste is to incorporate spices and herbs into your meals. Not only do spices and herbs add flavor, but they also have numerous health benefits.
Instead of relying on unhealthy condiments or sauces, experiment with different spices and herbs to enhance the taste of your dishes. For example, instead of using salt to season your meals, try using garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, or cumin. These spices add depth and flavor without adding extra sodium to your diet.
Herbs like basil, thyme, rosemary, and parsley can also transform the taste of your meals. Use them to season meats, vegetables, or even to garnish your dishes. Additionally, many herbs have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can boost your overall health.
By incorporating a variety of spices and herbs into your meals, you’ll not only enjoy a burst of flavors but also reap the health benefits they offer. Experiment with different combinations and find what works best for your taste buds. You’ll be amazed at how much flavor you can add to your meals while still maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet.
7) Incorporate Nuts and Seeds into Your Diet
One of the easiest and most delicious ways to eat healthier is by incorporating nuts and seeds into your diet. Not only are they packed with essential nutrients, but they also add a satisfying crunch and depth of flavor to your meals and snacks.
Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and cashews are excellent sources of healthy fats, fiber, protein, and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. They have been linked to improved heart health, weight management, and reduced inflammation. Seeds like chia, flax, and hemp seeds are also nutritional powerhouses, providing omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants.
There are many ways to incorporate nuts and seeds into your daily meals and snacks. Add a handful of chopped almonds or walnuts to your morning oatmeal or yogurt for an extra dose of protein and crunch. Sprinkle flax or chia seeds on top of your smoothie or salad for a boost of omega-3s and fiber.
For a quick and nutritious snack, mix a variety of nuts and seeds together and store them in airtight containers. Grab a handful when you’re feeling peckish or add them to homemade trail mix for a portable and satisfying snack.
8) Opt for Lean Protein Sources
When it comes to eating healthier, incorporating lean protein sources into your diet is a great way to fuel your body and promote satiety. Not only do these protein sources provide essential amino acids for muscle repair and growth, but they are also lower in fat and calories compared to their higher-fat counterparts.
Some excellent lean protein options to consider include:
- skinless chicken breast
- legumes such as lentils and chickpeas
These options are not only rich in protein, but they also provide essential nutrients like iron and zinc.
Including lean protein sources in your meals can help stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you feeling fuller for longer, preventing unnecessary snacking and overeating. It’s important to note that portion control is still crucial, as consuming excessive amounts of even lean protein can lead to weight gain.
When preparing your meals, try grilling or baking your protein sources instead of frying them to reduce the amount of added fats. You can also experiment with different marinades and spices to add flavor without increasing calorie intake.
9) Eat the Rainbow of Fruits and Vegetables
Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is not only visually appealing but also crucial for maintaining good health. Each color in the produce aisle represents a unique combination of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that our bodies need to thrive. By incorporating a wide array of colorful fruits and vegetables into our diet, we can ensure that we are getting a diverse range of nutrients.
Red fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes and strawberries, are rich in lycopene and vitamin C. These nutrients have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. Orange and yellow produce, like carrots and oranges, are packed with beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. This vitamin is essential for healthy vision and a strong immune system.
Green vegetables, like spinach and broccoli, are excellent sources of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate and iron. They are also rich in antioxidants that help protect our cells from damage. Blue and purple fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries and eggplants, contain powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins. These compounds have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Lastly, white produce, like onions and garlic, may not be as colorful, but they still provide health benefits. These foods contain compounds that support immune function and have antibacterial properties.
To incorporate a wide range of fruits and vegetables into your diet, aim to include at least one serving of each color group daily. You can achieve this by having a colorful salad or adding a variety of fruits and vegetables to your meals. Remember, eating the rainbow not only adds visual appeal to your plate but also adds a wealth of health benefits to your life.
10) Use Coconut Oil for Cooking and Baking
Coconut oil has become a popular ingredient in recent years for both cooking and baking. It’s a healthy alternative to traditional oils like vegetable oil or canola oil because it’s high in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are easily digested and used as energy, making them a great option for a quick burst of fuel.
Coconut oil has a subtle sweet flavor and can add a tropical twist to your favorite recipes. You can use it to sauté vegetables, stir fry meat, or even bake cookies. Because of its high smoke point, it’s also a good option for frying.
When using coconut oil for baking, it’s important to keep in mind that it solidifies at room temperature. To use it as a substitute for butter or oil in a recipe, melt it first and then measure out the amount needed.
Coconut oil is also a great moisturizer for your skin and hair, and has been shown to have potential health benefits such as improving brain function and reducing inflammation. So, add a jar of coconut oil to your pantry and start experimenting with this healthy ingredient in your cooking and baking!
11) Switch to Whole Grain Products
One easy swap you can make to your diet is to switch from refined grain products to whole grain options. Whole grain products include foods like whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, and whole grain pasta. These products have not been processed and contain all parts of the grain, including the bran, germ, and endosperm. This means that they are a better source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals compared to their refined counterparts.
Incorporating more whole grains into your diet can have numerous health benefits, such as improving digestion, reducing inflammation, and lowering your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Plus, whole grain products can be just as tasty and versatile as their refined counterparts. Try experimenting with different whole-grain options to find what you enjoy the most.
Making the switch to whole grain products can be as easy as checking food labels when grocery shopping and choosing the whole grain option. You can also start by swapping out one refined grain product in your diet each week and replacing it with a whole grain option. Small changes like this can make a big difference in your overall health and well-being.
12) Replace Soda with Infused Water or Herbal Tea
One simple yet effective way to cut back on empty calories and sugar intake is to replace soda with infused water or herbal tea. Sodas are notorious for their high sugar content, artificial additives, and negative effects on health. By making this small change, you can enjoy refreshing and flavorful beverages without harmful effects.
Infused water is an excellent alternative to soda as it provides hydration with a twist of natural flavors. Simply add fruits, herbs, or vegetables to a pitcher of water and let it infuse for a few hours. This adds a subtle and refreshing taste to your water, making it more enjoyable to drink. Try combinations like lemon and mint, cucumber and lime, or strawberry and basil for a burst of flavor.
Herbal teas are another great option to replace soda. They come in a wide range of flavors, such as chamomile, peppermint, or hibiscus, and can be enjoyed hot or cold. Herbal teas are naturally caffeine-free, hydrating, and offer various health benefits. They can help improve digestion, boost the immune system, and provide relaxation.
By replacing soda with infused water or herbal tea, you can stay hydrated while enjoying a variety of flavors. These alternatives are healthier options that do not contain excessive sugar or artificial additives.
13) Avoid Eating Late at Night
One of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to eating healthy is snacking late at night. Whether it’s due to boredom, stress, or simply the convenience of having a late-night snack, it can be detrimental to your overall health and weight management goals.
When you eat late at night, your body’s metabolism slows down, making it harder for your body to burn calories. Additionally, your body doesn’t have enough time to properly digest and process the food before you go to bed, which can lead to indigestion, discomfort, and even weight gain.
To avoid eating late at night, it’s important to establish a regular eating schedule. Make sure you have balanced and nutritious meals throughout the day, so you won’t feel hungry late at night. If you find yourself craving a snack, try distracting yourself with other activities such as reading a book, taking a bath, or going for a walk.
If you absolutely must have a late-night snack, opt for a small portion of a healthy option, such as a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts. Avoid sugary or processed foods, as they can disrupt your sleep patterns and lead to cravings the next day.
By avoiding late-night eating, you’ll not only improve your digestion and metabolism but also set yourself up for a better night’s sleep and a healthier overall lifestyle.
14) Plan Your Meals in Advance
One of the best ways to ensure you eat healthier is by planning your meals in advance. By taking the time to plan out your meals for the week, you can make sure you have nutritious and balanced options readily available. This helps to prevent making unhealthy food choices out of convenience or lack of time.
Start by creating a weekly meal plan that includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Take into account your schedule and any specific dietary goals or restrictions you may have. Consider incorporating a variety of different foods to ensure you’re getting a wide range of nutrients.
Once you have your meal plan, make a grocery list of all the ingredients you’ll need. Stick to the list when you go shopping to avoid impulse purchases of unhealthy items. Having all the ingredients on hand will make it easier to stick to your meal plan and avoid the temptation of ordering takeout or reaching for unhealthy snacks.
Prepping your meals in advance can also be a time-saving strategy. Spend a few hours on the weekend chopping vegetables, marinating proteins, and portioning out meals for the week. This way, when you come home from work or school, you can quickly assemble a healthy meal without much effort.
Planning your meals in advance can set you up for success on your journey to healthier eating. It helps you stay on track, saves time and money, and ensures you have nourishing meals readily available when hunger strikes. Give it a try and see how it positively impacts your eating habits.
15) Use a Food Scale to Monitor Portion Sizes
Using a food scale to monitor portion sizes is an effective way to manage your food intake and maintain a healthy weight. It’s easy to underestimate how much you’re eating when eyeballing portions, but a food scale gives you an accurate measurement. Start by weighing out the recommended serving size listed on food labels and gradually adjust as needed to meet your specific nutritional needs. Using a food scale may take some extra effort at first, but it can make a big difference in achieving your health goals.
16) Cook in Bulk to Save Time and Money
Cooking in bulk is a smart strategy to save both time and money while also helping you eat healthier. By preparing large batches of meals or ingredients ahead of time, you can minimize the need for daily cooking and reduce food waste. Here are some tips for successfully cooking in bulk:
- Choose recipes that can easily be scaled up and frozen, such as soups, stews, and casseroles. These dishes tend to reheat well and maintain their flavor and texture.
- Invest in quality storage containers and freezer bags that are leak-proof and airtight. This will help keep your food fresh and prevent freezer burn.
- Label and date your meals before storing them in the freezer. This will make it easier to keep track of what you have and when it was made.
- Consider batch cooking ingredients that can be used in multiple dishes, such as roasted vegetables, grilled chicken breasts, or cooked quinoa. These versatile components can be easily incorporated into different recipes throughout the week.
- Take advantage of seasonal produce by buying in bulk when it’s available at its peak. You can then preserve fruits and vegetables through canning, freezing, or making sauces and jams.
Cooking in bulk not only saves you time during busy weekdays but also allows you to control the quality and ingredients of your meals. With a little planning and organization, you can have nutritious and delicious meals ready to go whenever you need them.
17) Choose Healthy Fats
When it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, it’s important to choose the right kinds of fats. While fats often get a bad reputation, they are actually an essential part of a balanced diet. However, not all fats are created equal, and some can be detrimental to our health.
Opting for healthy fats can help support brain function, protect against heart disease, and even aid in weight loss. So what exactly are healthy fats? Some great sources include avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish like salmon.
These fats are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are considered heart-healthy. They can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation in the body. In contrast, unhealthy fats, such as saturated and trans fats, can increase the risk of heart disease and raise cholesterol levels.
Incorporating healthy fats into your diet is easy. You can use olive oil as a dressing for salads or as a cooking oil for sautéing vegetables. Adding avocado slices to sandwiches or spreading nut butter on whole grain toast are also great options. And don’t forget about incorporating fatty fish into your meals, such as grilled salmon or sardines.
By choosing healthy fats over unhealthy options, you can improve your overall health and well-being. Remember, moderation is key, so be mindful of portion sizes and enjoy these fats as part of a balanced diet.
18) Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand
One of the key strategies to maintaining a healthy diet is to keep healthy snacks on hand at all times. When hunger strikes, it can be easy to reach for unhealthy processed snacks that are readily available. However, by stocking your pantry and refrigerator with nutritious options, you can satisfy your cravings while staying on track with your healthy eating goals.
Some great snack options to keep on hand include fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and Greek yogurt. These snacks are not only packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but they also provide a satisfying crunch or creaminess that can help curb hunger. Preparing pre-cut fruits and vegetables or portioned nuts and seeds in small bags or containers can make it easy to grab a healthy snack when you’re on the go or in need of a quick pick-me-up.
In addition to these options, you can also consider making your own healthy snack bars, energy balls, or homemade granola. These can be made in advance and stored in airtight containers, making them perfect for a quick and nutritious snack option.
By keeping healthy snacks readily available, you are setting yourself up for success in maintaining a healthy eating plan. So, the next time you reach for a snack, think about stocking up on these healthy options to nourish your body and satisfy your cravings.
19) Find Healthier Alternatives to Your Favorite Foods
One of the biggest challenges when trying to eat healthier is giving up your favorite indulgent foods. But, fear not! There are often healthier alternatives available that can satisfy your cravings while still nourishing your body. For example, if you love potato chips, try swapping them out for baked kale chips or homemade vegetable crisps. If you have a sweet tooth, consider opting for dark chocolate or making your own healthier versions of desserts using natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. Get creative and explore the many delicious alternatives out there!
20) Practice Mindful Eating Techniques.
Eating mindfully involves paying attention to your food and your body’s response to it. Here are some tips for practicing mindful eating:
- Sit down to eat: Eating while standing up or on-the-go can make it harder to pay attention to your food.
- Remove distractions: Turn off the TV, put away your phone, and focus solely on your meal.
- Chew slowly and thoroughly: This allows your body to properly digest the food and signals to your brain that you are full.
- Use all your senses: Take in the smell, taste, and texture of your food.
- Take breaks: Pause between bites to assess your hunger level and give your body time to register fullness.
- Listen to your body: Stop eating when you feel satisfied, not when your plate is empty or when you’re uncomfortably full.
- Be kind to yourself: Avoid criticizing yourself for eating “bad” foods or feeling guilty about indulging in a treat. Remember that a healthy diet includes balance and moderation.
By incorporating these mindful eating techniques into your daily routine, you can develop a healthier relationship with food and better tune in to your body’s needs.
Incorporating healthy eating habits into your lifestyle doesn’t have to be overwhelming. These 20 food hacks are here to make it easier and more enjoyable. From making your own salad dressings and trail mix to incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet, these simple tips will help you make smarter food choices. By swapping out processed snacks for whole foods and using healthier substitutes like Greek yogurt and coconut oil, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier and happier you. Start implementing these food hacks today and enjoy the benefits of a nourishing and balanced diet.