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8 Steps to Eating Healthy

What do you think the most common question is when it comes to eating healthy? I would argue that it is either "How?" or "What should I eat?" If you feel like you want to start eating healthier foods, but need some direction, here is an 8-step process to get you on the right track. Now, remember that it takes four weeks to form a habit; so successfully doing each one of these steps for a month will likely bring you the change that you want by October. However, if you make a conscious effort, you could be eating healthy much sooner than that.

Step 1: Pack Your Lunch
This applies especially well to those who work during the day, but it also works for those who do not. It is the process of providing your own food for lunch every day. Hopefully, you are already eating breakfast and dinner at home; however, if you are not, then try to start doing so 5-6 days a week before moving on to the next step.

Why?: Packing your own lunch shows you that you have control of what you eat. (It will also save you money)

Step 2: SLOWLY Change What You Eat
Now that you are providing your own food, try to make slow changes towards healthy foods. For instance, if you are eating a sandwich, change from white to wheat bread. If you are drinking a Dr. Pepper for lunch, switch to water. Every step from this point on will help in this gradual change.

Why?: Changing as little as one thing at a time will make it easier to ease into a new lifestyle. It also shows that you have the power to change what you eat.

Step 3: Start to Create a Meal Plan
Start by writing down for meals for tomorrow, then the next two days, then the next three days, etc. Eventually, you will be able to plan for your entire week ahead of time.

Why?: This will make it easier to visualize where you need to make changes in your meals.

Hint: It might help to not list the same meal for every breakfast/lunch/dinner this week, just so you get an idea of what meal options you have available. However, if you typically eat eggs and toast every morning, there is no need to write down some obscure dish that you may not like.

Step 4: Cut the Sugar
I am not saying you should cut out ALL sugar, but if it comes in a can or package, then it is probably time to let it go. Eat natural sugars like fruits or honey (but don't go crazy with the honey). This will be one of the hardest stages of the whole process.

Why?: Processed sugars are a leading cause of weight gain. Cutting these out may help you lose weight, get clear skin, and feel healthier in general.

Step 5: Move to Whole Wheat
After you cut out the sugar, this may be a relatively easy move to make. Start switching all of your breads, pastas, and rice to whole grain. If it is a processed grain or white flour, now is the time to quit eating it.

Why?: You probably are not actually getting that much nutrients from white grains. You will get more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients like fiber from healthy whole grain bread.

Step 6: Lean Meat
Compared to the first couple of steps, this will be a good deal easier. Start buying leaner meats like chicken, lean ground meat, and fish. Don't be afraid to get some red meat as well, just make sure it is a low fat cut and that you only eat it once a week.

Why?: After all of the changes you have made so far, you are still getting a good deal of fat and sodium from fatty or processed meats. Getting lean meat will help cut out these unnecessary amounts of fat.

Step 7: Veggies
Pretty simple step, just make sure you are getting a serving of vegetables every meal.

Why?: You can get a lot more vitamins and minerals from vegetables. They are rich in nutritional value.

Step 8: Moderation
Do not be afraid to live a little. Sometimes it is ok to get desert, eat a nice steak, or eat a little bit of white bread at a meal out. The trick is learning that moderation goes both ways: if you eat too much healthy foods you may get sick of them, but if you eat too little you endanger your own health.

Why?: We do not have that many years to live on this earth, learn to live healthy, but also enjoy yourself.

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