4 tips for eating healthier without counting calories or using a scale

March is National Nutrition Month, a great time to re-evaluate our relationship with food and commit to making better food choices. There’s a lot of advice about how we should eat, and it can get overwhelming. We know we need to eat enough, but not too much, of fat, protein and carbohydrates. And we know we should be getting our full intake of vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients.

Here are some tips for eating healthier without using a scale or counting calories (although it can be good to occasionally log our meals to recalibrate them as needed):

  1. Make plants the star of the plate. Studies continue to show the benefits of a plant-based diet, from reducing the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes to increasing life expectancy and happiness.
  2. Eat the rainbow. Many of the micronutrients we need – vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals – are associated with distinctive colors. For example, beta-carotene gives foods like carrots, pumpkins and apricots an orange color. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A, which helps keep our skin and eyes healthy and supports our immune system. Choosing a rainbow of fruits and vegetables helps ensure that we get a variety of micronutrients to support our health.
  3. Slow down and enjoy your meal. It takes 20 minutes for our brain to register the chemicals that tell us we’re full. When we are hungry, it is easy to eat quickly and potentially overeat. By slowing down and savoring the look, smells and tastes of our food, we give our brains time to catch up.
  4. Hydrate. We need fluids to maintain our health and the functions of our body systems. Staying hydrated helps our heart pump blood through our body, our muscles work more efficiently, and our food digests to maximize nutrient absorption. Drink water throughout the day, not just with meals. You’ll feel more energized and it can help you feel fuller between meals.

By the Natural Gourmet Center at the Institute of Culinary Education