Healthy Hack #2: Rethink Your Portions and Proportions
When it comes to health, major life changes are especially difficult to implement and even harder to sustain. In the chaos of every day, it’s hard to set time aside to focus on eating a healthier diet. Instead of making a major overhaul in one fell swoop, try making small easy changes. In my experience, it’s these small steps we adopt, maintain, and incorporate into our daily routines that add up to a meaningful long-term improvement.
Last month, I started a series to share some of my favorite simple strategies to easily incorporate healthier foods into your meals. This month, I am sharing my Healthy Hack #2. If you are ready to lose weight, boost your energy, or simply feel a little healthier every day, you’ll want to use this healthy eating hack.
Rethink your approach to your meals to make vegetables the centerpiece of your plate.
In the traditional Western way of eating, a large piece of animal protein is the highlight of a meal with a boring steamed vegetable and a buttery starch on the side. This is true even for a sandwich, where two pieces of bread are usually piled high with meat and cheese, and sometimes a small piece of lettuce or a thin slice of tomato is added with a side of chips. My Healthy Eating Hack #2 is to change your portions and proportions to increase the vegetables on your plate.
One of the healthiest eating habits you can adopt is to eat more vegetables. Having a diet rich in vegetables can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower the risk of eye and digestive problems, have a positive effect on blood sugar, and promote weight loss. Eating a variety of types and colors of vegetables gives your body the mix of nutrients it needs. Additionally, fruit and vegetables are beneficial for weight management due to their low-calorie content, and large fiber content which helps you feel full longer.
I’m a big fan of meatless, plant-based meals, but without going full vegan or vegetarian, it’s still quite simple to fill up your plate with vegetables and continue to enjoy your favorite foods. This is a great strategy for those of us eating with a family of carnivores who don’t want to prepare separate meals. And don’t worry about not getting enough protein. Most Americans eat double the amount of protein the average person needs. And you can get plenty of protein from a variety of whole grains, vegetables, and beans, without the saturated fat and cholesterol found in animal protein.
Here are some simple ways to eat more vegetables and reduce the number of calories and fat you consume at each meal:
Add vegetables, like spinach, onions, peppers, and/or mushrooms to your morning eggs.
Reduce the amount of meat and cheese in your sandwich or wrap and add lots of lettuce, tomatoes, shredded carrots, cucumbers, sprouts, onions, and avocado.
Fill your pasta bowl with sautéed or roasted vegetables. Think about having vegetables with some pasta, instead of pasta with vegetables.
Super-size your side salad to make it entrée size and add a small portion of chicken or tofu.
Increase your side of vegetables to take up at least half of your plate.
Fill your lasagna and top your pizza with vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, peppers, artichokes, eggplant, and zucchini.
Reduce the amount of shrimp or beef in your tacos and add a crunchy vegetable slaw made of purple and green cabbage, carrots, red peppers, and cilantro.
Reduce the amount of chicken or steak in your fajitas and add sautéed peppers and onions, black beans, and some guacamole.
Cooking kebabs on the grill? Add 2-3x as many vegetables to your skewers as chicken or shrimp.
Apply the same strategy to dessert! Fill a bowl full of berries and then add a small scoop of ice cream or a thin slice of cake.
How do you add more vegetables to your meals? Share your tricks in the comments below.