We all want to take our health to the next level. With so many different diet plans, exercise routines and health gurus claiming to offer magic results, it can be intimidating to make even a few small changes. In light of all these options, one thing is for sure: it all starts with making better food choices. Here are five super simple ways to eat smarter and live longer.
1. Stay hydrated, my friends
It’s critically important to keep your cells hydrated. Get yourself a glass, metal or BPA-free plastic container and keep that puppy full. Drink at least one glass of water per hour (while you’re awake, that is). You’ll enjoy more sustained energy and enhanced mental clarity throughout your day. Oh, and be sure to eat more fresh, water-dense foods like apples, figs, cucumbers and pineapple. They’ll help keep you hydrated and more regular. Bonus!
2. Eat smaller portions more often
Think about the key role that a stable weight plays in longevity. I mean, seriously, you never see obese centenarians, do you? In fact, research studies have shown that eating fewer calories leads to a longer life expectancy. By eating smaller portions of food (and getting your healthy snack on), you’ll naturally consume fewer calories, be less prone to binge eating at mealtime and keep your metabolism burning. Try snacking on goodies like air-popped nacho cheesy popcorn, fresh fruit dipped in nut butters, chocolate kale chips or tortillas with fresh guacamole and salsa.
3. More minerals = less sugar cravings
Sugar cravings can often result from two easily remedied issues: dehydration and low mineral levels. So drink more water (step 1) and bump up the mineral content in your foods by snacking on the good stuff like pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, raw cacao (unprocessed chocolate), dried figs and almonds. These powerhouse superfoods keep the sugar monster at bay and help you stay satisfied longer.
4. Make healthy substitutions in your recipes
You don’t need to sacrifice your favorite meals to live longer. Just use easy, healthy substitutions in your existing recipes. For example, try extra-virgin coconut oil for baking, grilling and sautéing. It’s loaded with metabolism-boosting properties and heart-healthy medium chain omega fatty acids. Also, try using palm sugar or agave nectar instead of white table sugar in your coffee, tea or desserts. You’ll enjoy the same yummy tastes you know and love while loading up your body with vitamins, minerals and good fats.
5. Create a meal plan for the week
Planning out your meals for the week is essential to eating healthier. Map out your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the week by finding exciting, free recipes online or in a fancy new cookbook. Then, make a shopping list and hit the grocery store or farmers market. Most of us are free on Sundays, so set that day aside for shopping and food prep. You can make a big batch of soup, chili or pancake mix for the week – and then it’s easy and convenient to feed yourself healthy, home-cooked meals. You’ll save yourself frustration, desperate hunger pangs and the temptation of visiting the drive-through!
This is just a taste of the easy and affordable time-saving (and lifesaving) tips I’ll be sharing on my new special – How to Live to 100 – debuting Sunday, January 6, at 8pm ET on Cooking Channel.