How to eat healthy without really trying

Health food fads are often genuine, but fail to represent or teach total-diet discipline. These surprising diet tips, like eating dessert for breakfast, help your body and your mind to have overall balance without driving you crazy.

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  • Healthy food can be fun and motivating for some, but for most, stocking the fridge with health food that won’t be eaten or enjoyed is a waste of money and delays the health benefits of a balanced diet. The fast food you eat in the meantime is likely worse for you than a non-health food dish you could have made at home. Diet will always be more of a determinant in your weight and health than any other factor (except, perhaps, your genes). Here are some of the boiled down, need-to-know tips that have worked for me in my weight loss journey.

  • Do not avoid calories

  • Calories are energy, and without them your body will diminish. They are not your enemy. Undereating will actually cause you to gain weight, since your body will think that it’s starving, go in to survival mode and hold on to every last morsel it gets right in your trouble area (around your abdomen which is really a storehouse). The purpose of eating is to give you energy. There are different kinds of calories, fat calories take more energy to burn than carbs, which is why they taste better and are more satisfying. Try not to consume too many calories in liquid form (juices, milk, soda). They can be good for you in moderation, but they are not a balanced diet.

  • Read the product's ingredients list. If there are any you can’t pronounce, don’t buy it

  • This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try new or exotic foods and flavors. But you should avoid food that contains chemicals and preservatives, which are commonly packed into processed foods.

  • Eat dessert for breakfast

  • No, seriously. I don’t mean eating chocolate cake, but starting the day off with chocolate crepes, stuffed French toast or whatever makes you smile, will start the day happy. It will also cut down on, if not eliminate, your sweets cravings for the rest of the day.

  • Eat full-fat dessert

  • Again, seriously. You are better off having a small portion of the most delicious and caloric dessert on earth than having more of a reduced fat dessert because your body knows what is real and what is not. Your body will be more satisfied, which will help curb the sweets cravings and binges you have later in the day. Natural fats (the ones companies try to convince you that they’re avoiding by using substitutes) are better for your body anyway. Our bodies are designed to consume things that came from the earth.

  • Snack on dried fruit and nuts

  • Not the whole container, just a handful. They’re good for you and a single handful can provide a huge energy boost.

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  • Get your sauce or dressing on the side

  • Dip your fork in your sauce or dressing and then skewer your food; you get the same flavor, but in reduced amounts. This can prevent you from consuming a hundred or more calories.

  • Have a spoonful of peanut butter

  • This is my secret weapon. A single spoonful is a huge energy boost. If your energy is waning during the day, instead of grabbing a sugary snack or a convenience food, try peanut butter and see if the hunger or craving goes away. (It will.) It’s healthy for you because it provides protein and the same kind of pleasure you get from a dessert (if you enjoy peanut butter). Put it on a banana or on crackers or simply have a spoonful out of the jar.

  • Consider fish oil

  • This is a personal choice, but it's one that I like. Fish oil helps your brain function, keeps your skin clear and causes weight to fall off.

  • Make your meals at home from raw ingredients when possible

  • This does not need to be complicated. A simple dish with three raw ingredients. Even a homemade cheeseburger is better than anything that comes premade or prepackaged. It doesn’t have to be inconvenient or expensive either. Frozen vegetables can actually be healthier and more nutritious, than ‘fresh’ produce that has slowly lost nutrients while sitting on the trucks.

  • Skip the soda, especially the diet soda

  • I enjoy soda, especially when I eat out, but if you are trying to exercise regularly or especially if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s not helping. Soda is not food. Soda is a drug. You are not doing your body a favor by drinking diet soda, because instead of the synthetic “foods” and syrups of regular soda, diet soda has even scarier chemical substitutes. Food is supposed to be caloric. If it has no caloric value, it was never meant to be consumed by a living being.

  • Never completely exclude a food group from your diet

  • You need a little of everything — literally. Your body is made up of a little of the vitamins and minerals found in all types of foods, and it needs replenishing. Fad diets will not keep you healthiest in the long term. Try to eat a variety of foods (and colors, as they tell kids in schools) to get different vitamins. Also, take a supplement on top of that if you feel it’s appropriate.

  • In the end, it only takes a little of the right food

  • Eating portion-appropriate meals is always better than eating more, even if that means eating more small meals throughout the day. Studies have shown that a reduced (but still sufficient and satisfying) diet results in a much longer life because the body becomes more efficient. Save overeating for your birthday and Thanksgiving.

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Megan graduated with a BA in English in 2012 with emphasis on postmodernism and film studies. In her spare time, she enjoys the outdoors, working on musical and literary projects, watching a lot of movies, and consuming any learning she can.

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