You know you should probably cut back on sweets and junk food, but at the mere mention of the word "diet," your death grip tightens on your favorite candy bar. Although it is challenging, weaning yourself off bad foods has tremendous benefits. People who eat a healthy diet lower their risks of heart disease, diabetes, some forms of cancer, hypertension and other health problems, according to WebMD. Focus on changing your lifestyle gradually rather than crash dieting. Over time, you'll learn to love the taste of nutritious food.
1 Make your favorite dishes healthier. Cut calories by experimenting with new recipes and replacing ingredients. Bread and season skinless chicken cutlets and bake them for the same crispy taste of fried chicken but without the fat. Substitute fruit purees or plain yogurt in place of butter or oil in baked goods. Replace full-fat milk, cheese, sour cream and yogurt with low-fat or skim alternatives.
2 Trick your taste buds. If you're craving something crunchy, reach for carrot sticks instead of chips. Satisfy an urge for something sweet with fresh fruit or yogurt and steer clear of cupcakes and candy.
3 Transition slowly. Giving up junk food all at once is a set up for failure. You'll be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task and you will feel swamped with cravings. Instead, focus on incorporating more healthy foods into your diet before eliminating the junk. For instance, add one serving of fruits and vegetables to each meal this week. The following week, limit yourself to one less sweet treat per day. Over time, cut yourself back to one or two indulgence foods each week.
4 Enjoy what you eat. Given the choice between a gooey chocolate chip cookie and an orange, which would you prefer to eat? Although it may sound impossible, you can reprogram your body to prefer the natural sweetness of fruit. When you sit down to a meal, savor the taste and texture of each bite. Overtime, you'll lose your taste for the excessively sweet or salty flavorings of processed foods, according to Bruce Weinstein and Marc Scarbrough, authors of "Real Food Has Curves."
5 Understand your body's rhythms. You may have noticed that your cravings for a candy bar reach their height in the late afternoon after a long day at work. The craving is your body's way of communicating that you've gone too long without food. Curb your bad food urges by eating healthy meals and snacks every two to three hours to keep your blood sugar stable.
- It's okay to have a high-fat, sugary treat every once and awhile as long as your diet is mostly healthy and you exercise regularly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Changing your lifestyle can be difficult. Get support from your physician, a dietitian, friends and family members.
- Consult your physician before making significant changes to your diet.
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