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A Beginner's Guide on How to Eat Healthy and Stick to It

https://jamesclear.com/eat-healthy

jamesclear.com

A Beginner's Guide on How to Eat Healthy and Stick to It
Healthy eating. It's something everyone knows they should do, but few of us do as consistently as we would like. The purpose of this guide is to share practical strategies for how to eat healthy and break down the science of why we often fail to do so.

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How craving are stimulated artificially

How craving are stimulated artificially
  • Salivary response: the more a food causes you to salivate, the more it will cover your taste buds.
  • Rapid food meltdown: this tells your brain that you’re not full, even though you’re eating a lot of calories.
  • Calorie density. junk foods are designed to convince your brain that it is getting nutrition, but to not fill you up.
  • Memories of past eating experiences: When you eat something tasty, your brain registers that feeling and will bring it up in the future.

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Building better habits means changing your environment

Building better habits means changing your environment

Most people think that building better habits or changing your actions is all about willpower or motivation. But your environment has an incredible ability to shape your behavior.

Nowhere is this more true than with food.

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The reasons we crave junk food

  1. The sensation of eating the food: what it tastes like, what it smells like and how it feels in your mouth.
  2. The blend of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that it contains: junk food companies are looking for a perfect combination, that excites your brain and gets you coming back for more.

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Eat healthy using choice architecture

  1. Use smaller plates. Bigger plates mean bigger portions.
  2. Use tall, slender glasses instead of short, fat ones to drink less alcohol or soda.
  3. Use plates that have a high contrast color with your food.
  4. Display healthy foods in a prominent place.
  5. Wrap unhealthy foods in tin foil and healthy foods in plastic wrap.
  6. Keep healthy foods in larger packages and containers, and unhealthy foods in smaller ones.

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The “Outer Ring” strategy for buying healthy food

At the store, only go for the “outer ring” , where the healthy food usually lives: fruits, vegetables, lean meats, eggs, etc. These are items that grew or lived outdoors. That’s what you should eat.

The aisles are where all of the boxed and processed stuff is placed.

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Stress favors unhealthy eating

Stress causes certain regions of the brain to release chemicals that can trigger mechanisms similar to the cravings you get from fat and sugar, so your brain feels the addictive call of fat and sugar and you’re pulled back to junk food.

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Words frame your sense of empowerment and control

I don’t” is experienced as a choice, so it feels empowering. “I can’t” isn’t a choice, is a restriction.

In other words, the phrase "I don't" is a psychologically empowering way to say no, while the phrase "I can't" is a psychologically draining way to say no.

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It doesn’t mean giving in to every craving; it means getting rid of the idea of “giving in” to “bad foods” altogether. Eat that Oreo when you want it, without any negative emotion attached, and you won’t feel like you need to eat the whole bag.

Respect your fullness

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“Everything in moderation” is risky advice

Because the word “moderation” is vague and that makes it a friendly, big-tent kind of concept: however much you eat, you can find a way of convincing yourself that you eat in moderation.

Moderation should be a tool...

...for sticking to healthy diets easier. 

Nutritionists mean by moderation small portions, especially when talking about food that we should not eat. This means that eating a little bit of bad food doesn't have to ruin your diet or make you feel guilty and give up.

Big companies and “moderation”

Junk food companies love the concept of “moderation”.

Some of them (e.g. the Sugar Association, Snack Food, and Grocery Manufacturers Associations, with members as Coca-Cola and Hershey), adopted the motto: “All foods fit in a balanced diet", to give the illusion that your diet is not unhealthy if it includes their foods.