20 Ways to Improve Your Eating Habits

20 Ways to Improve Your Eating Habits
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20 Ways to Improve Your Eating Habits

Lose It: Juicing — For More Than a Few Days

Juicing contributes to weight-loss and cleanses do encourage people to increase their daily intake of fruits, vegetables and water, but there are drawbacks. "You may shed pound, but they can come back just as fast."

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Do It: Eat Breakfast

Glassman says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day because she claims that adolescents and teens who eat breakfast do better in school, have healthier diets, and are more physically active and able to maintain a healthy body weight.

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Lose It: Using Artificial Sweeteners

Speaking of artificial sweeteners, Glassman adds it onto the list of habits to lose. Instead, try small portions of the real thing like honey or agave, or even sweet spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla.

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Lose It: Unnecessary Snacking

"Eat meals, not snacks," says Marion Nestle. Glassman points out that snacking is the easiest way to oversnack or overeat. Portion control and paying attention to serving sizes is a key method to maintaining and sustaining weight loss.

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Lose It: Emotional Snacking

After long days or during bouts of boredom, it's easy to munch away on snacks or down an entire chocolate bar, which clearly isn't good for anyone. Nestle suggests going for a walk when feeling down instead of turning to food to improve your mood.

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Lose It: Completely Letting Go of Healthy Eating Habits During the Weekends

As Nestle stresses, it's the word completely that needs to be paid attention to indulgences can be fine in moderation. Remember that every meal is an opportunity to eat well.

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Lose It: Mindless Eating

Glassman explains that when the mind is focusing on something else, were not paying attention to how much were eating or how our body feels. This can lead to overeating and even missing the joy of eating.

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Lose It: Skipping Meals

As Nestle says, "Starvation is not good for health." Glassman expands to add that when you skip meals, your body is denied needed calories, which provide the energy our cells need to operate at optimal level.

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Lose It: Eating on the Go and Convenience Foods

Plan ahead of the week on the weekend or keep healthy snacks on hand. She suggests nuts, fiber crackers, natural peanut butter to spread on apples or bananas, trail mix or healthy nutrition bars.

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Lose It: Going Food Shopping Without a List

Go in with a plan and buy what you came for. Avoid the center aisles of the market, which usually contain processed foods, unless you’re looking for something on your list like brown rice or whole-grain pasta or canned tomatoes.

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Do It: Drink Water

Start the day off right by drinking a glass of water as soon as you wake up. Glassman suggests adding a slice of lemon for flavor because it will also help detoxify the liver, which plays a key role in our long-term health by metabolizing the foods we consume.

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Do It: Switch to Green Tea

This might be a hard one, but perhaps swapping the afternoon cup of joe for green tea can be a healthier option for that caffeine fix. Green tea is rich in antioxidants called catechins, which may trigger weight loss by stimulating the body to burn calories and decrease body fat.

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Do It: Snack Smart — If You Must at All

Snacking, like most food-based decisions, is about making smart choices. As Nestle says, "Try not to snack, but if you must, snack smartly on fruits, vegetables, and nuts."

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Do It: Start Listening to Your Body

Glassman notes that we often mistake thirst for hunger, so have that glass of water first and then reassess how you're feeling. Ask yourself, "What are you in the mood for?" and "Is your body hungry?"

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Do It: Add Vegetables or Greens to Every Meal

The curly fries and thick-cut wedges look tempting on the plate, but as Glassman suggested earlier, choosing a salad or vegetables instead is a better choice. Or, start the meal with vegetables and a salad.

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Do It: Choose Lean Proteins

While eating more vegetables and greens is a high priority, picking the healthiest proteins also matters. Glassman says that lean choices that are "rich sources of protein and are either lower in calories and fat and/or excellent sources of omega-3s."

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Do It: Eat More Whole Foods

Glassman explains that the idea behind whole foods is to ideally eliminate as many packaged foods as possible from your diet and choose ones with as few ingredients listed as possible.

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Do It: Eat a Variety of Nutrient-Rich Foods and a Balanced Diet

"This is standard boring nutritionists' advice from me, too," says Nestle. "I have an easier translation: eat plenty of vegetables and don't eat too much junk food."

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Do It: Cook More at Home and Ahead of Time

Nestle recommends learning how to cook and prepare meals quickly. As she says, "It’s not hard to cook something from scratch in the time it takes to heat up frozen meals or those stored in the refrigerator."

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Lose It: Drinking Soda — This Means Diet, Too!

A recent study followed 2,500 New Yorkers who drank diet soda every day, and found that these individuals had a 61 percent higher risk of vascular problems than those who did not consume diet drinks.

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With the rise of eating-related issues like type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease, the need to improve the overall health of our country is becoming more urgent — it's time to make some changes in our daily habits and eating patterns.

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Of course, no one wants to be thought of as the picky eater (the one who brings their own dressing to restaurants or refuses to order anything as is on the menu), but sometimes embracing a healthier way of life means doing new things that probably won't feel natural at first. We're not talking about extreme measures here, but little habits like starting the morning with a big glass of water and eating more vegetables and less processed foods.

For expert opinions and advice, we turned to two well-respected nutritionists, Marion Nestle, a professor at NYU and author of Food Politics as well as numerous other books, and Keri Glassman, author and founder of Nutritious Life in New York City. As Glassman says, "Taking small steps can make a big difference toward a healthier lifestyle. Examine what your personal diet pitfalls are and start to change them one habit at a time." As a jumping-off point, Glassman suggests starting small and trying to get in the habit of ordering dishes that are grilled and baked instead of fried when dining out, and asking for a side of vegetables instead of fries.

Along with these new habits to pick up, there also are some that should probably be left behind. Take emotional snacking, for example — it can seem hard to avoid at first, but there are ways to make sure it happens less frequently and to avoid any extremes. Let's just say, no one wants to be the person crying on the subway eating a pint of ice cream (witnessed by a fellow editor on a New York City subway).

Of course, this advice might not be new to some people and, with the excess of health information on the web, it's easy to forget the basics and caught up in the hot trend of the moment or the new go-to diet that claims to melt away the pounds. But this is news worth repeating: losing weight and becoming healthier is not accomplished by quick-fix changes that can be done and then forgotten about. It requires lifestyle changes that need to be sustained.

Improving the quality of our eating habits — losing the bad ones and adding some good ones — is not as scary as it sounds and, to be honest, being healthier will probably make life more exciting, happy, and fulfilling — not to mention longer.

Though Nestle and Glassman agreed on most things, there were some surprising differences in opinions that might come as a pleasant surprise to those who eat quickly or don't like eating breakfast.

Check out the slideshow above for tips on how to live a healthier lifestyle.

For more health information, check out What Makes Up a Healthy Vegetarian Diet and try this Under 500-Calorie Meal That Actually Tastes Good.

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