Editor's note: this blog post was originally written in April 2014 and has been updated for clarity and with the latest information.
Following a strict healthy eating plan can be difficult to say the least. If like me, you are continually falling off the salad wagon take a look at these healthy eating habits that are easy to stick to.
Whether you're looking to be a bit healthier, lose weight or just feel more confident, these easy healthy eating tips will help you achieve your goal. No fad diets, quick fixes or ridiculously expensive ingredients, just simple ideas to help you lead a healthier lifestyle.
Let's get going!
Hydrate before hunger
Try drinking a glass of water before eating any food, whether it's your main meal or just a few grapes. Not only will this help you get in your 8 glasses of water a day but it may cure your dehydration - which is commonly mistaken for hunger.
Remember, when it's warmer you need more water than normal. Keep dehydration at bay and always make sure you keep a bottle of water to hand on hot days.
Portion control + smaller plates = eating less
If you struggle with overeating, the solution could be as simple as to buy smaller plates. Studies have shown that by placing food on smaller plates our minds are 'tricked' into thinking that we're eating more than we are.
If you can't afford to replace all your crockery, then try giving yourself smaller portions with the thought that you can always go back for seconds if you're still hungry. More often than not, you'll find that the first smaller portion does the trick just fine!
PS always make sure you're eating enough to stay healthy and give you the energy you need for the day!
Take it slowww
Eating slower is another easy way to eat a bit healthier. By chewing slower you not only appreciate your food more, but you also allow your body to signal when it is full. By shovelling in your food you don't give your stomach a chance to let your brain know it's full, resulting in overindulgence and feeling sick.
Not just your meals, but your week of eating. Having a big meal out on Friday night? Don't limit yourself on what you can order, just take it into consideration for that day and have a lighter lunch. Get the dessert!
It's also a good idea to plan ahead your meals, both financially and in terms of eating healthier. By structuring what you plan to eat, you can make sure that you have enough sustenance to keep hunger at bay and prevent buying emergency snacks - both costly and damaging to your waistline!
Do the crunch test
Only go for snacks that need a good old crunch. Apples, celery, snap peas and nuts are all healthy and keep your mouth busy for longer so your body has more time to register fullness.
Swap your whites for whole grain
Another top tip that's easy to put into practice is opting for whole grain whenever you have sandwiches or pasta dishes. Whole grains are packed with nutrients and antioxidants, and a diet rich in whole grains has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
You can get lots of different variants of whole grain, so if seeded bread isn't your thing there are other whole grain options you'll love.
Top tip: whole grain pasta takes slightly longer to cook, so make sure you take that into consideration when cooking!
Get a boost of Omega 3
Omega 3 is the type of fat that you do want.
Often found in oily fish and seeds, Omega 3 helps lower the rate of heart disease, dementia and arthritis. The body can't make them, so Omega 3 can only be taken by food or supplements.
If you don't have the money (or taste buds) for salmon and sardines, a tablespoon of flax-seeds onto your meals works nicely.
Swap your builder's tea and coffees for green tea. It's full of anti-oxidants and contains zero calories, but still contains a small amount of caffeine so you can still get your fix.
Plus, drinking around 6 cups a day has actually been proven to help you lose weight, so it's well worth making the swap every now and then!
A balanced diet is...
...a cookie in each hand? So the novelty greeting card says.
The key to healthy eating is variety. Nobody wants to eat salad all the time, so by eating foods from all the food groups, you'll make sure that you get all the nutrients you need and (most importantly) keep your mealtimes interesting.
Eat sweet without the sweets
The 4pm slump is a real thing and it's made all the more worse when you're sat at your desk at work.
Instead of reaching for the chocolate make sure you have naturally sweet foods to hand, like fruit or almond nuts.
Get on the wagon
No, not the aforementioned salad wagon but the slightly more fun alcohol wagon.
By cutting back on your alcohol intake you'll do wonders for your body (and wallet). It's easy to underestimate the number of calories alcohol has, and so without realising a night at the pub can massively increase your calorie intake. And that's not taking into consideration your late night kebab!
Try having an alcohol free night at the pub (you won't miss it as much as you think), or try swapping each drink for a non-alcoholic one. Soda water and lime juice has very few calories or fat, but still tastes delicious.
Put the joy back in food
Remember when you were little and the sheer joy you experienced when you were called for dinner? The best way to feel good about your diet is to put the joy back into your meals.
Want a chocolate bar? Then eat the chocolate bar - and enjoy it! Practice mindfulness while you're eating and you'll avoid the guilt that often comes after snacking. It's fine to indulge in a treat now and then, just make sure that you really want it and you enjoy it.
Do you have any top tips for healthy eating that I'm missing out on?, I'm always on the hunt for more!