5 Tips to help you eat healthy during the week

Dec 11, 2009 at 2:14 p.m. ET

America is getting fatter and unhealthier. Largely responsible are poor diet and coach potato tendencies that have Americans glued to their televisions watching fit, buff dancers gyrate away on "So You Think You Can Dance" while they mindlessly consume junk food. You can stop yourself from sinking into the quicksand of this lifestyle by following our simple but crucial healthy-eating advice.

Woman eating crisp apple

Nix the drive-through

Many with great diet intentions think they can eat healthfully at fast food places. And granted, some can do just that. Yet, if issues of self control become activated when faced with fresh-cut french fries and the smell of a greasy cheeseburger, the diet sabotage meter can move off the charts. Don't risk it.

My Body
  1. Brown bag it! Avoid the drive-thru fat burgers and bring your own sandwich, salad or soup from home.
  2. Forgot your lunch at home? Grab a pre-made salad at your local grocer.
  3. Get your chocolate fix naturally with small, pre-wrapped bite-size pieces of unsweetened dark chocolate. It's actually good for you (dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and good fats).

Bring your own

Prepare a healthful meal to take with you during lunch or dinner mealtimes when you aren't able to be at home. Bring along your own healthful food while flying. Don't have time to make it? Healthy lunch recipes don't need to be expensive or complicated. Swing by a local grocery store and purchase a half-pound of sliced turkey, a bottle of Dijon mustard, a tub of fresh greens and an olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing. Drink water as your beverage.

Eat sweet naturally

Stop buying processed sweets. If you are a chocolate lover, purchase small pre-wrapped bite-size pieces of unsweetened dark chocolate, which is high in antioxidants and good fats and can satisfy your sweet tooth without blowing your diet. The trick is to eat just one piece

Crispy apples and fresh berries are the best choice for high-fiber, nutritious sweet snacks. Have several servings per day. Fresh is best, but frozen is ok, too -- just read the label and make sure frozen fruits don't contain sweeteners.

Eat like an Okinawan

Okinawa is known for a large population of centenarians who are vibrant, healthy and happy. The average Okinawan eats at least seven servings of vegetables daily, and seven grain servings daily as well that include refined and whole grain noodles, bread and rice. They also eat two to four servings of fruit, plus tofu and other forms of soy, green tea, seaweed and omega-3-rich fish three times per week. Okinawans eat a great deal of vitamin-rich vegetables such as sweet potatoes, bean sprouts, onions and green peppers, too. When you break it down, 72 percent of the typical Okinawan diet by weight are vegetables, grains and fruits. Soy and seaweed make up another 14 percent. Three-percent of the diet is meat, poultry and eggs. And fish provides about 11 percent. They don't eat a lot of dairy, and they drink alcohol moderately (women have one drink per day; men have two). Eating like an Okinawan during the week can be highly beneficial to your health. Then, if you dive into a bowl of pasta or indulge in a few slices of pizza on the weekend, you won't feel so guilty.

Keep your eye on the ball

Connecting the dots is a good thing when it comes to eating healthfully. Figure out what motivates you to stick to a program. Is it fitting into a new pair of jeans? What you will look like in shorts? How you appear naked in front of a mirror or in bed with your sweetie? Hone in on what your motivation is, then wrap your brain around it. See it in your mind's eye. Imagine what it would feel like to look and feel lean, healthy and strong. It would feel fantastic, right? Then keep your eye on this virtual ball. Then on the weekends indulge in your favorite foods with one big cheat meal as a reward. Then, come back into balance by eating healthfully most of the time.