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Simple Steps to Help You Eat Better

A sliced apple versus a slice of apple pie. If it were a healthy choice contest, fresh fruit would certainly win. But many of us may find it hard to resist that sweet treat. To help you eat better, try the following simple steps.

Girl looking down at basket of berries

In your home

Remember the old adage “out of sight, out of mind.” It may well work for food. You may be less likely to eat something if you don’t see it. And vice versa. So make healthy foods convenient to consume. Here’s how:

  • Keep foods such as fruits and vegetables in easy reach. Don’t bury them in a refrigerator drawer. Place perishable produce on a center shelf, where it can be easily seen and picked up. You can apply the same idea to foods you store in cabinets.

  • Dress it up. For healthy foods you can leave out on the counter, place them in an attractive bowl. They will be more tempting to eat.

  • Cut it up. Sliced apples or baby carrots are easy to grab and snack on. Children especially like the smaller bites.

  • Store food only in the kitchen. One study found people who stored more food throughout their homes, such as in an extra refrigerator, were more likely to be overweight or obese.

Before going shopping

When you go grocery shopping, it’s the best time to bring healthy food into your home. Perhaps your most handy tool: a shopping list. Research shows that people who use one tend to eat better and weigh less. Try these grocery shopping tips:

  • Map out your meals for the week. Deciding what you want to eat in advance can help you create a more concise list.

  • Use what you already have at home. Check your refrigerator, freezer, and cabinets for ingredients. You’ll save money and time.

  • Try some new healthy recipes. Schedule easier meals for busy days. Reserve ones that take longer for days when you’ll have more time to cook.

  • Eat a healthy snack before shopping. It may help you stick to the list. Plus, it may prompt you to buy a greater amount of healthier fare. Consider this finding: In one study, people who snacked on an apple instead of a cookie before shopping bought more fruits and vegetables overall.

Eating out

It can be a challenge to eat healthy when dining out. Restaurants may not always list calorie counts and other nutritional information on their menus. Try these strategies:

  • Scan the menu for healthier items. Some restaurants will mark which foods are low-fat or low-calorie. Generally, those that are grilled or steamed, instead of fried, are better for you.

  • Watch your portion size. Many eateries serve up big portions. To cut back on how much you eat, share an entrée with a friend. Or eat half and take home the rest for later.

  • Eat slowly. Your body will have more time to digest the food. You will feel full sooner and eat less overall.

  • Stay away from super-sized drinks. The sugar in soft drinks can add hundreds of unneeded calories to your meal. Water with lemon is a great way to stay hydrated without a bunch of added sugar.

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