20 Ways To Improve Your Eating Habits

With the rise of eating-related issues like type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, the need to improve the overall health of our country is becoming more urgent — it's time to make some changes in our daily habits and eating patterns.

Of course, no one wants to be thought of as the picky eater (the one who brings their own dressing to restaurants or refuses to order anything as is on the menu), but sometimes embracing a healthier way of life means doing new things that probably won't feel natural at first. We're not talking about extreme measures here, but little habits like starting the morning with a big glass of water and eating more vegetables and less processed foods.

For expert opinions and advice, we turned to two well-respected nutritionists, Marion Nestle, a professor at NYU and author of Food Politics as well as numerous other books, and Keri Glassman, author and founder of Nutritious Life in New York City. As Glassman says, "Taking small steps can make a big difference toward a healthier lifestyle. Examine what your personal diet pitfalls are and start to change them one habit at a time." As a jumping-off point, Glassman suggests starting small and trying to get in the habit of ordering dishes that are grilled and baked instead of fried when dining out, and asking for a side of vegetables instead of fries.

Along with these new habits to pick up, there also are some that should probably be left behind. Take emotional snacking, for example — it can seem hard to avoid at first, but there are ways to make sure it happens less frequently and to avoid any extremes. Let's just say, no one wants to be the person crying on the subway eating a pint of ice cream (witnessed by a fellow editor on a New York City subway).

Of course, this advice might not be new to some people and, with the excess of health information on the web, it's easy to forget the basics and caught up in the hot trend of the moment or the new go-to diet that claims to melt away the pounds. But this is news worth repeating: losing weight and becoming healthier is not accomplished by quick-fix changes that can be done and then forgotten about. It requires lifestyle changes that need to be sustained.

Improving the quality of our eating habits — losing the bad ones and adding some good ones — is not as scary as it sounds and, to be honest, being healthier will probably make life more exciting, happy, and fulfilling — not to mention longer.

Though Nestle and Glassman agreed on most things, there were some surprising differences in opinions that might come as a pleasant surprise to those who eat quickly or don't like eating breakfast. 

Check out the 20 Ways to Improve Your Eating Habits Slideshow.