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Good Eating Habits Last a (Longer) Lifetime

Healthy Eating Starts with a Healthy BreakfastIt’s no secret that healthy eating can help you lose weight, feel more energetic, reduce the risk of illness and even extend your life. But if you’ve developed a lifetime of bad eating habits, developing new mealtime patterns can be a real challenge.

Fortunately, there are a number of simple, easy and, yes, delicious ways you can start eating better without losing any of the pleasure we associate with food. Once you replace your bad habits with these good ones, you’ll be well on your way to a lifetime of rewards.

Here are some simple ways you can eat better every day:

* Always eat breakfast. Breakfast may not really be “the most important meal of the day,” but missing breakfast can throw your metabolism off for hours. Eat a morning meal, but stay away from pastries, pancakes, waffles and other super-sweet, starch-heavy foods. Instead, focus on eating whole-grain breads or cereals; low-fat (or high monosaturated fat) protein sources like eggs, peanut butter, lean meats and fish; low-fat dairy products like skim milk, yogurt and low-fat cheese; and either fresh fruits or 100% fruit juice.

* Eat meals at a table, not on the run. Whether eating at home or out, always make meals “special” by eating at a table. Avoid eating “on the run,” in your car, or even at your desk. Food that’s “stuffed into your face” is rarely satisfying—leading you to eat more.

* Always have plenty of healthy “snack foods” within reach. Often, we consume “empty calories” just to keep our stomachs from growling between meals. Instead of going to the vending machine for a mid-afternoon candy bar, satisfy the urge to “nosh” by having some low-salt nuts or some fresh fruit like apples, oranges or bananas handy.

* Eat slower and “listen” to your body. Many people tend to eat very quickly and then complain that they feel “stuffed” when the meal is over. You’ll find you eat less—and enjoy it more—if you slow down just a bit and pay attention to how you feel as the meal progresses. When you get to the point you’re no longer hungry—stop eating. You’ve had enough.

* Don’t worry about “cleaning your plate.” In the same vein as the advice above, don’t worry about eating everything on your plate, especially if you’re eating out. American restaurants tend to serve portions that are way too large for a healthy diet. Either be prepared to “waste” some good food (despite everything your mother told you), or better yet, split meals with a friend or ask for a “doggie bag” before you leave.

* Limit alcoholic to 1-2 drinks per day. Many scientific studies suggest that small amounts of regular alcohol consumption can actually be beneficial. However, alcohol is a notorious source of “empty calories,” and keeping drinking to a minimum can help you avoid unwanted weight gain (as well as many long-term health problems associated with alcohol abuse).

Eating healthier every day can help you perform better in school and at work. You’ll feel better, you’ll look better—and you probably won’t even be as hungry as you were on a less healthy diet! Why not start eating better today!

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