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10 Easy Tips for Healthier Eating

Ten easy tips for healthier eating. By making minor changes to your eating, cooking, and diet habits, you can live a much healthier life, live longer.

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by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

Eating healthier does not mean making huge sacrifices or starving yourself or your family. By making just a few small adjustments to your lifestyle and/or eating and cooking habits, you can easily improve your health -- and perhaps even lose a few pounds in the process. These are not diet tips, per se, but healthy eating tips -- for a healthier lifestyle and a longer life.

So, what can you do to eat healthier? Here are 10 easy tips for healthier eating -- with a few bonus tips thrown in at the end of the article!

Eliminate refined white sugar from your foods. While sugar is sadly found in many prepared foods (such as ketchup, spaghetti sauce, salad dressing, and others), you can easily eliminate sugar when eating items made from scratch. Sugar goes right to your waistline and helps rot your teeth -- and it is addictive. Health organizations report that sugars and other simple carbohydrates are a leading factor in causing obesity -- but its evils go much deeper, reducing immune systems, and damaging health over the long-run. Replace your sugar with with stevia (a natural herb). Other no-sugar options include xylitol (made from birch) and erythritol -- both sugar alcohols -- as well as coconut sugar, raw honey, or Splenda.

Eat more fruits as snacks and for dessert. Because it's always the growing season somewhere in the world, we can typically find fresh fruit -- apples, bananas, grapes, citrus, and others -- year-round in your local supermarket. Fruits contain vitamins and minerals that offer many healthy benefits, including the potential to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases -- and are a much better treat than cookies or candies.

Add more vegetables to your meals -- especially fresh or frozen. Vegetables offer many healthy benefits while also being more natural for our body to absorb and digest. Vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may protect you from chronic diseases (such as reducing the risk of having a stroke, dying of cardiovascular disease, and staving off osteoporosis). Try and make half your lunches and dinners veggies.

Cut back on fatty, grain-fed meat consumption. In fact, when possible, cut back on all grain-fed (mainstream) meat -- including beef, pork, and lamb. Instead, buy pasture-raised and grass fed/finished meats, which are leaner and have good fat. The worst meat is the fatty grain and corn fed meats because they contain saturated fats, which raise total blood cholesterol as well as LDL (bad) cholesterol. Consider replacing some of your meat consumption with fish, chicken, and tofu.

Add more fish to your diet. Especially add wild-caught fatty fish that is high in Omega-3 fatty acids -- one of the essential fats people need to consume because our bodies can't make it from scratch. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, may help control certain medical conditions, and may play protective roles against cancer and other conditions. Fatty fish include mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon -- and current recommendations are to eat fish at least twice a week.

Cut back on the starches and simple carbohydrates. When you do have carbs, focus on the more complex ones, such as whole wheat and whole grains. Choose grains that are rich in fiber and nutrients. Limiting your carb intake will lead to weight loss greater than from limiting your fat intake. Other benefits from limiting carbs include increased HDL (good) cholesterol, lower blood insulin levels, decreased blood pressure, and improved triglycerides.

Use more herbs in place of salt and other seasonings. In fact, many of the roots, herbs, leaves, and other substances that can be used as seasonings in cooking also have beneficial health effects because of antioxidants, which are good for heart health and cancer protection. Typical herbs mentioned include basil, garlic, onion, oregano, mint, dill/fennel, parsley, pepper, cumin, ginger/turmeric, coriander, and rosemary. Excessive consumption of salt, coupled with a low dietary intake of potassium, is a common cause of high blood pressure.

Cut back on frying your meals, especially deep-frying. Broil or bake, and when you do fry, use a cooking spray or olive oil in place of butter or other oils. And it's not just the frying aspect, but the carbs and salt from the breading that typically is applied to whatever is being fried. Fried foods are more likely than unfried foods to increase the likelihood of developing hardening of the arteries, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Eat more nuts -- at least 1-2 ounces daily (unless you are allergic, of course). Nuts have fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. Replace other unhealthy snacks (such as chips or crackers) with nuts. Consuming nuts greatly lowers the risk of heart disease and strokes, as well as lowering the possibility of developing type 2 diabetes, dementia, advanced macular degeneration, and gallstones. Nuts with the most proven benefits include almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, and pistachios.

Reduce your consumption of fast food and prepared foods. Much processed foods contain way too much sugar, fat, salt, and chemicals used as preservatives. Some fast food and processed foods still contain trans fats, which increase levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol -- increasing the risk of heart disease. A typical "value" meal at a fast food restaurant may contain as much as 1,500 calories (when our total daily intake should be about 2,000) and 60 or more grams of fat. In addition, they are typically high in carbohydrates (especially sugar) while low in fiber.

Final Thoughts on Healthier Eating

Many of us have developed bad cooking and eating habits over the years that have contributed to making us fatter and sicker (and addicted to salt and sugar). Luckily, it's fairly easy to make just a few small changes to your eating patterns and diet that will result in major health benefits.

Want more tips for healthier eating? Here are two more:

Eat smaller portions. Government recommendations might surprise you, and while you could certainly go out and buy a kitchen scale, that concept seems like it would take the fun out of eating. The solution? The vast majority of us could easily cut our portions in half -- or at least a third. A serving of meat should be just a few ounces (about the size of a deck of cards). Other daily recommendations include no more than two eggs, about one cup of (low-fat) milk or about two ounces of cheese, and just one slice of bread or about a half a cup of rice or pasta. (You might also consider switching out your dairy products, going from cow products to goat's milk and cheese, which is healthier for you.)

Cutback on the use of sauces. We are a society that oversauces our food with high-fat, high-salt, and high-carb cheese sauces, gravies, marinara, barbecue, and sweet and sour sauces. Consider instead using a small amount of wine or fruit juices. Use new spices to add flavor.

Finally, don't forget that the best road to wellness includes not only healthier eating, but also a daily commitment to exercise and fitness. (See our Empowering Fitness and Exercises Resources.)

See also our article, Live Longer. Eat Healthier Daily. Best Foods for You, A-Z.

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Avid wellness guru Dr. Randall S. Hansen Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., is an avid bicyclist, adventurist, environmentalist, and student of wellness and photography, with a mission of empowering others to lead great lives. He is Founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites. Dr. Hansen is also the founder and caretaker of this site, EmpoweringRetreat.com, as well as founder of EmpoweringAdvice.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He's often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com or reach him by email at CEO(at)empoweringsites.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.

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