Simple Ways to Get Healthier

Optimal health is the goal for most people, but even the biggest of exercise buffs would likely admit there's room for improvement.

Much of that room for improvement lies in what we eat. Diet and exercise go hand in hand, so even if you spend ample time at the gym, you might not be as healthy as you think if you're not combining those workouts with a proper diet. While a diet can seem like a lifestyle overhaul, eating healthier doesn't have to involve so much sweat and sacrifice. Below are some easy dieting tips that, when combined with exercise, can help you become both healthier and happier.

* Eat your fruits and veggies. Fruits are more than just great sources of vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. They also fill up your stomach fast, lessening the hunger pangs that many find overwhelming when adjusting their diets. And because fruits and veggies are low in calories, they'll fit nicely into a diet for people who are intent on counting their calories.

* Don't skip meals. Skipping meals is counterproductive and unhealthy to boot. Missing meals makes us hungrier, which increases the likelihood we'll overeat when we finally do eat a meal. Rather than skipping meals or sticking to the traditional three hearty meals per day, eating several smaller meals can be more beneficial. This helps balance the daily caloric intake better than three spread out meals.

* Reduce portions. Even if what you eat is healthy, how much you eat might not be. Consider a dish of whole-wheat pasta. That can make for a healthy dinner, but only if you stick to the serving size, which is usually 1/2 cup of cooked pasta for a single serving. Now, consider that a restaurant serving of pasta is typically 2 cups, which equals four servings. If you stick to recommended portions of healthy foods, you'll be fine. But larger portions, even of healthy foods, are not good for you.

* Bring your lunch to work. Many people are fond of going out to lunch every day at work. Unfortunately, lunch is when many people eat packaged or processed foods, such as those sold at fast food restaurants. By simply bringing a healthy lunch to work every day, you're far more likely to lose weight and keep it off. You can still leave the office for lunch, but you'll be eating healthier and likely saving money as well.

* Take it easy on yourself. Just because you're trying to eat healthier and possibly shed some extra pounds doesn't mean you have to live like a monk. If there's one special treat you especially like, such as an ice cream sundae or a hamburger, don't be afraid to indulge every so often. While it shouldn't be a daily occurrence, a small treat every now and again will help you maintain your sanity, and you're far less likely to succumb to a dietary relapse if you indulge every so often.

* It's not just what you eat, but what you drink as well. Dieting isn't just about food but beverages as well. Sugary drinks, such as sodas, coffees with cream and sugar, tea with sugar, and some mixed alcoholic beverages, can have a negative impact on your every day diet. In lieu of such beverages, try a minimum of eight glasses of water per day.

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