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4 Simple Healthy Eating Habits

By: Steve Frailey Saturday March 12, 2022 comments Tags: raw food, healthy eating, healthy food swaps, healthy living

Your food and drink choices make a big difference in your health. Increasing scientific research now specifically links poor diet and nutrition to an increase of chronic disease such as obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers.

With March being National Nutrition Month let this encourage us all to reflect on our daily food choices, both bad and good and make tangible changes for the better. 

Focus on the basics - what you eat and drink regularly

Spend a few days creating a food diary of your eating and drinking habits. Write down everything you eat and drink and the time of day you ate or drank the item. It’s also helpful to note how you were feeling when you ate or drank, particularly if you were eating and not hungry or drinking and not thirsty. Were you tired? Bored? Stressed out? 

Once you have a few days or weeks worth of food diary. Highlight healthy choices or habits you’d like to continue and identify unhealthy foods or habits you’d like to replace with new healthier ones.

When considering changes, it’s important to start with small gradual changes that can build upon one another. This will support you in creating long lasting habits that will have the most impactful benefits for your health.  

4 Simple Habits to Consider

1 Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit

Consuming enough fruits and vegetables is important at any age. Produce is a top source of fiber and other nutrients that are necessary for good health and may reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. 

Produce consumption has actually decreased over the past six years and according to the CDC just 1 in 10 adults meets the daily recommended intake of fruit and vegetables.

What is the daily recommended intake?

Adults should consume 1.5 to 2 cups of fruits and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day. A good guideline is to think about the amount of produce you can hold in one cupped hand - that’s about half a cup.

For optimal nutrition aim to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables to help ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients for your body. 

Ways to meet your goal for fruits and vegetables:

Add fruits and vegetables to your favorite dishes 

    • Chop a banana over your cereal, oatmeal or yogurt, add strawberries or blueberries to your pancakes, add extra veggies into your sandwich, add vegetable toppings to your pizza or stir greens or chopped vegetables into pasta or casserole dishes.   

Try new fruits and vegetables

    • Each week pick a new fruit or vegetable to try. Your local famer’s market is a great place to find new produce and ask the farmer tips on how to prepare or cook it. If your local area has a CSA ( Community Supported Agriculture) sign up for their weekly produce delivery box to support local farmers and receive fresh in season produce. Tips for selecting the best produce

Cook vegetarian

    • Not already plant-based? Pick one day every week to skip to the meat and try a new vegetarian recipe for dinner. Meatless Monday is an excellent place to start. Allow your tastebuds to adjust and then build from there. Benefits of a vegetarian diet

Swap your snacks

    • Try snacking on a piece of fresh fruit instead of your usual mid-morning muffin. Swap your afternoon bag of chips for carrot or celery sticks or bell pepper strips dipped in hummus. If you just can’t give up the chips try a baked chip with fresh salsa. Tips for healthy food swaps here  

Meal prep vegetables

    • Chop up a few vegetables and store them in your fridge. After a long day or when you are in a rush, this will make you more likely to reach for them when throwing meals together. 

Daily dose of noni

2 Manage portions and serving sizes

Eating proper portions is as important as eating the right foods. The National Institute of Health reports an alarming statistic - food portions at restaurants in the US have doubled or even tripled over the last 20 years. Many Americans have a hard time recognizing proper portions and serving sizes due to all the super sized meals we’ve been served. 

Did you know? Although portion and serving sizes are often used interchangeably, they actually are different. 

A portion: is the total amount of food that you are eating in one setting.
A serving: is the recommended amount of one particular food.

For example, the Nutrition Facts label may indicate ½ cup cereal for one serving but if you eat ¾ cup, that is your portion size.

Simple tips for eating proper portions and serving sizes:

Read the label

    • When buying food read the Nutrition Facts label to see what amounts to a regular serving and how much it provides in terms of nutrients. When considering portions for whole foods like fruits, vegetables and grains sites like Choose My Plate can help with determining recommended portions. Tips on how to read the nutrition facts label here

Measure food

    • We all have a tendency to overfill a cup or spoon when preparing meals. If identifying accurate serving sizes is of great importance to you, many find it useful to measure foods by weight using a digital food scale. 

Meal Prep

    • When faced with hunger, it’s natural to reach for quick tasty foods and also eat much greater portions. By prepping meals in advance and storing portioned meals in single serve containers the meals are ready for you to grab and go when hunger arises. 

Add more veggies

    • A great way to fill up without adding a ton of extra calories is by adding extra veggies to your meals. Simple ways to go heavy on the veggies is by starting your meals with a salad, pack veggies like greens, shredded carrots, cucumber and tomato slices, avocado and sprouts to your sandwich or toss your favorite veggies into pasta or casserole dishes. Top 3 benefits of veggies

Check your plate size

    • Whether you believe it or not, the size of your plates have a lot to do with portion control. Most of us are prone to fill our bowl or plate, regardless of size. 

Did you know? In the 1960s, plates were roughly 9 inches in diameter. Not only have portion sizes grown so have plate sizes. Today, it’s not unusual for plates to be 12 inches in diameter or larger. Even drinking glasses have grown in size, which is only beneficial if you are drinking water. 

To help eat healthier portion sizes it’s recommended to select 9” plates for adults and 7” plates for children. 

Some studies have even found that people are less likely to overeat when there is a high contrast between their food and the plates, glasses and even tablecloths they are eating from. 

3 Drink less sugar

Our favorite drinks are often so tasty because of added sweeteners. However, too much added sugar has been linked to health problems like weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, increased inflammation and heart disease. Sugar hides behind 56 different names

Did you know? Most of the added sugar in the average American diet comes from the drinks we consume - soft drinks, soda, energy drinks, high street flavored coffee, bottled smoothies, yogurt drinks and many fruit juices. 

One 12oz can of soda contains about 11 teaspoons (46.2 grams) of sugar. Many large flavored coffees can contain upwards of 45 grams of sugar. 

Going cold turkey on sugary drinks may sound like a great idea however slowly cutting back usually helps create a long lasting habit. Start with swapping one sugary drink for a healthier option. Once you’ve established the habit, swap a second sugary drink and then another - your health will thank you. 

So what are some better drink choices?

Here are some of our favorites:

Water infused with fruit

    • Add slices of your favorite fruit, veggies or herbs to a jug of water and stick in the fridge for a few hours for a refreshing flavored drink. Try oranges, lemons, limes, watermelon, strawberries, cucumber or mint. You can also chop any of these, add to an ice cube tray, add water, freeze and then add to still or sparkling water for flavor and color. 

Sparkling water

    • Really craving the fizz of soda? Try sparkling water. If you need flavor add slices of fresh fruits or a few drops or splashes of 100% no added sugar juice to your glass. You can also purchase flavored sparkling water. Just be mindful of the ingredients and select one with the least amount of additives and sweeteners. 

Unsweetened teas

    • Hot or cold green or black tea is another great alternative. We love making a pitcher of iced tea in the morning for a refreshing afternoon drink. While unsweetened tea may taste unusual at first, many come to love it. Click here for our Noni tea recipe

Coconut water

    • Unsweetened coconut water is not only refreshing but a natural source of vitamins and minerals. While coconut water is roughly 94% water it does contain natural sugar. It can still be a better option with regards to sugar than many sports drinks, soda and fruit juices. Learn more about coconuts here

Homemade Smoothies

    • Make your own smoothies. They are easy to make, delicious and can be more nutritious as you are in control of the ingredients. Many smoothies ordered at restaurants and some juice bars are absolutely laden with added sweeteners and fillers. Blend fresh organic or frozen fruits, and veggies with water, coconut milk or almond or oat milk. Add fun bites of flavor - we love peanut butter, almond butter, cacao nibs, hemp seeds, chia seeds or Noni Fruit Leather.

4 Monitor your salt intake

Most adults should eat no more than 6 grams of salt (2.4 grams of sodium) a day—that’s about a teaspoonful. Too much salt or sodium can lead to high blood pressure and hypertension.

Did you know? Over 70% of the dietary sodium that Americans consume actually comes from eating packaged and prepared foods—not from table salt added to food when cooking or eating. 

While pickles and soy sauce are high in sodium and taste salty, many foods like pastries, breads and cereals are also high in sodium but are not salty to taste. This makes it ever more important to read the nutrition facts label.

This does not give you a free pass to disregard your seasoning habits while cooking and eating. You can practice healthier seasoning habits at home by adding flavor to dishes using herbs, spices or other seasonings. Try things like garlic, basil, paprika, dill, dried onion or onion powder, ginger, rosemary, coriander, sage, tarragon, cinnamon, nutritional yeast, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar even lemon juice

The Power of Good Nutrition

We hope you’ve found these simple healthy eating habits useful and beneficial for your health. After air and water, food is the third most important thing for living beings. Good nutrition plays an important role in our lives. Afterall, the food we put into our bodies reflects onto our health.

As Hippocrates famously said "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food".

Do you have any healthy nutrition tips or habits to share? Let us know in the comments.

Steve Frailey

About the Author: Steve Frailey

My wife and I (Steve Frailey) moved to Kauai, Hawaii in 1982 from our organic farm in California. There were no roads, electricity, water or buildings but lots of Noni trees (Morinda Citrifolia) in our valley. We also developed a deep relationship with Noni that was growing all through our valley.  Today we run our Hawaiian Organic Noni farm, and share the gift of health with people throughout the world.