6 ways to eat a healthier diet

Ditch the diet and make healthier eating a part of your everyday lifestyle. Here are 6 ways to get started right now.

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  • We all want better health — to live longer, feel more energetic and look our very best. The media is riddled with doctors and "experts" who want to teach you how to lose weight fast and keep the weight off forever. However, are our obsessions with looking skinny and dieting ruining our chance for good health? Many of us have lost sight of what healthy eating looks like.

  • It's time to ditch the diet in favor of healthy eating for life. If you want to overhaul your diet in a way that will stick in the long run, start with these 6 suggestions for eating healthier today.

  • 1. Purge the house

  • Your first step to better long-term eating is getting the junk out of your house. If bad food isn't available, it severely curtails your ability to eat it. When you're ready to make a food lifestyle change, go through the pantry and freezer and toss any food that will keep you from reaching your long-term health goals. If you don't want to waste all that food, donate non-perishables to a local food bank. It's good for you and good for your community.

  • 2. Shop smarter

  • Now that you've rid your home of junk, keep it out by making the most of your grocery shopping trips. In every grocery store, fresh, unprocessed foods are kept along the perimeter of the store. Aim to buy 75 percent or more from the outer rim each time you shop. Fill your cart full of fresh produce, lean meats and dairy.

  • 3. Eat at home

  • Your best bet for maintaining a whole food eating habit is to prepare your meals at home. No time to cook from scratch? Dedicate one evening or Saturday morning each week to prep healthy meals and snacks for use throughout the week. Freezer meals are a great solution when you're trying to eat healthy on hectic nights.

  • 4. Broaden your horizons

  • Eating boneless, skinless chicken breasts and steamed broccoli each night gets old fast. To keep up your new way of eating, keep it interesting so you don't burn out. Next time you're at the grocery store, pick up a new vegetable or fruit and use the Internet to figure out how to prepare it. Also, try out new ethnic foods to avoid a food rut. The fun of fresh food is in the variety.

  • 5. Watch what you drink

  • When you commit to eating healthier, don't overlook the beverages you consume. Stick to plain water most of the time and cut sugary drinks from your life. Soda, sweet teas and lemonade, processed juice and elaborate coffee drinks are calorie heavy while offering little nutritional value. Make water and milk your go-to cup fillers.

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  • 6. Focus on the big picture

  • Sometimes, we get so caught up in weight loss and thinness that we forget the big picture. Commit to a healthier lifestyle for your health, not for an exterior image, and a healthy weight will follow. You deserve to live a long life free from preventable disease, and healthy eating is the tool that can get you there.

  • Your family wants you around a very long time. You owe it to those you love to be present at graduations, weddings and welcoming new babies. If you want to live a long, full life with your family, you have to take responsibility for your eating habits. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the many diet claims and conflicting information circulating, but you can't go wrong by using some common sense and exercising moderation. If you feel lost by how to reform your eating habits, consider contacting a registered dietician who can get you on the right path. You owe it to yourself.

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Heather Hale is a fourth-generation Montanan and mom to three crazy boys.

Website: http://moderatelycrunchy.blogspot.com

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