If living well flashes an image of fast cars and dispensable cash flow, think again. Daily wellness is the best investment you can make. What is more satisfying than the return that taking care of yourself will bring? (Yeah, we know orgasms come close.) In the new book The Planet Friendly Diet, author Cat Smiley dishes about how wholesome living is about balance and simplicity, finding the perfect harmony between exercise, mindful eating and wellness in all areas of your life. And some of her healthy eating tips just may surprise you.

Sounds like a tall order, yes, but Cat’s philosophy—that happiness starts in the kitchen and trickles over into other areas of your world, from the way you treat your friends and of course, yourself—makes a lot of sense. Think about it. When you feel nourished, you want to go to the gym, catch an afternoon yoga class, bike home from work, even just smile more. Here’s how to make your diet as healthy as possible.

10 SURPRISING HEALTHY EATING TIPS FOR THE BEST YOU EVER

1. LOAD UP ON H2O How Junk Food Can Make You Healthy (and 9 Other Sweet Tips)

Water helps drain your system of unwanted toxins that keep the sag and flab on your body. It also hydrates your skin and gives you energy. Try to drink up to four litres of water per day, every day if you’re working out or live in a hot country. It seems excessive in the beginning, but as long as you’re active, you’ll get used to the routine. Bored with water? Buy a water infuser bottle from any hardware store and make it your own with a refreshing twist, such as mint, lemon, lime, cucumber, grapefruit or raspberries.

2. EAT JUNK FOOD

There’s no such thing as bad food, just bad portions. Studies have in fact shown that a portion of chocolate every day carries health benefits compatible to ½ glass of wine per day. The catch? A portion is considered to be about the size of two Hershey Kisses. But a little every day will keep your cravings under control, as the whole forbidden food thing will be out of the picture.

3. GO GLUTEN AND WHEAT FREE

Keep your diet lean by reducing starchy carbs and wheat-based products. Going gluten free has never been easier. You don’t have to buy the fancy bread or any special products either. Wholegrain brown rice, oats, rye, potatoes and yams are all naturally gluten free, and they’re easy to cook with. Minimize corn and high sugar carbs as they can make you want to eat more. Sugar makes you want more sugar. And starch converts to sugar during your digestive cycle, so beware of portion sizes.

How Junk Food Can Make You Healthy and 9 Other Sweet Tips

Red Lentil Soup recipe: Instagram @icatsmiley

4. DON’T WASTE THOSE VEGGIES

At week’s end, go through your fridge and organize the veggies. Looking done? Pop them in the freezer to be used for soup. Leftover meals should also be revamped into soup. In particular, rice, barley, vegetables, beans are great for the pot. Turn your soup into a meal with canned chickpeas and beans, instead of cooking from scratch. There are loads of high quality brands, organic and low sodium.

5. SAY NO TO CONDIMENTS

Watch how you use seasonings and spreads. Rather than tossing in slabs of butter, open your spice cupboard. Go easy on the sugar alternatives, instead enjoying the natural flavour of foods. Retrain your sweet tooth to only come out on occasion. Cravings happen to everyone, but the more you give in, the more it will come back to haunt you.

6. CRAVE SWEETS? EAT FAT

While sugar is an empty calorie, fat (the good kind) is a valuable, nutritious appetite suppresser that will make you eat less, and feel incredibly satisfied. Avocado, nuts, coconut, seeds and hard cheese are delicious treats you can use to throw together something tasty in the kitchen as the craving for sweets pass. Sugar is the start of binge eating cycles and losing control of calories. Fat before sugar! Put a post-it note on your fridge. How Junk Food Can Make You Healthy (and 9 Other Sweet Tips)

7. SET S.M.A.R.T. FITNESS GOALS

Making your diet healthier goes hand-in-hand with daily workouts. Exercise can be as simple as heading out the door for a power walk with your dog. Having a mission that you want to accomplish will keep your workouts fresh, fun and purposeful. Want to jog that 5k in March? Set yourself up with a Specific, Manageable, Attainable, Realistic goal that you can work towards, with a defined Time frame (SMART). (Want to see how one woman accomplished it? Read this inspiring story.)

8. CREATE GOAL DEADLINES

There’s nothing worse than chasing the same hashed out goal for years on end. Its disempowering and frustrating. Some people spend their whole lives trying to fit into their size 6 jeans again. Bodies change, you change, goals should change. Chase your goal for a set time and then move on, regardless if you achieve it. The whole ‘never give up your dreams’ mantras that fill Facebook are neither practical nor realistic. It’s okay to give up your dreams and reset your goals. Sometimes walking away from something is more kick ass than actually sticking with it.

9. LOVE YOUR SMOOTHIES

As recommended in The Planet Friendly Diet, drink two smoothies each day for 21 days (here are 3 you’ll want to wake up to). Make them even quicker by pre-packaging ingredients in a Ziploc baggie the night before. Buy a couple of different smoothie containers, so that you always have a clean one around to whip up a quick smoothie. Knowing that you have a nutritious and healthy lunch on hand is a calming thought and will help you stick to your diet plan.

10. BREATHE AND ENJOY

Think about making your diet healthier and exercising as an opportunity to unwind from a hectic day, release some endorphins and improve your quality of life. Exercise makes you feel wonderful, and so does eating well. Try to train your brain to notice the feeling.

For more great tips on how to create a planet-friendly diet and change your life, check out Cat’s book, The Planet Friendly Diet.

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