UNT professor Brian McFarlin gives tips on eating healthier

Eating healthier might seem like an impossible task, but UNT professor Brian McFarlin says there are simple steps you can take toward a better diet.  

“Try to find a diet for you, and don’t feel bad about it,” says McFarlin, who works in the Departments of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation and Biological Sciences at UNT. “Honestly, the biggest thing we know is that the negative health aspects of poor dietary choices are very damaging long-term.”

McFarlin offers these tips to transform your diet — without having to eliminate all your favorite foods.

Be honest with yourself: The first step toward being healthy is to understand what your body needs and what bad habits need to change.

  • Don’t assume you can’t control your weight loss due to your low metabolic rate. Many people blame a low metabolic rate for their weight struggles only to find through testing that their rate was actually average.
  • Keep a food journal and regularly assess the quality and quantity of what you are eating.

Be aware of serving sizes: People tend to eat more than what they need, but there are many ways to manage this.

  • Purchase a food scale to track exactly what is in the serving you are going to eat. 
  • Take food to go at restaurants. Many dishes served at restaurants will have more than one serving. To avoid mindlessly eating the whole plate, ask the wait staff to package up a portion to go before serving it to you.
  • Don’t feel pressured to clean your plate or eat too quickly. The hunger/satiety hormones that communicate with your brain to inform you that you are full can take time to kick in compared to how fast you eat.

Drink more water: The part of the brain that controls hunger also controls thirst. People often confuse being thirsty with being hungry.

  • When you feel hungry you should drink a glass of water, wait 30 minutes and if you are still hungry then you should go and eat something.
  • Don’t drink your calories. Juices can often have as many calories as soda, which usually contain around 200 or more calories per drink.

Find people to be healthy with: Have a network of people who are also trying to be healthy who can support you.

  • Join an exercise group or any group with the goal of being healthier. 
  • Encourage friends and family to eat healthy as well. Often people have a hard time eating better because everyone around them is making poor food choices.