According to Duke University researchers, about 40% of people’s everyday action is characterized by habitual repetition. An example might be your daily spin through the Dunkin’ drive-thru for coffee and a Boston Crème. We tend to repeat what works and what’s convenient, say researchers, and often what tastes good. But just as bad habits are formed, healthy ones can, too. This is why it’s important to set a few healthy eating habits for men that work well for you, especially ones that are convenient. Because if you’re set up for success, you’ll easily succeed.
Here are a few healthy eating habits for men, and for more healthy eating tips, check out our list of 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.
Consume less red meat.
Men love meat. They value it more highly than women do. In fact, psychologists reporting in Frontiers in Psychology have identified a meat bias, highlighting data that supports the meat-masculinity link they observe. And they say man’s meat bias increases the hungrier men get.
Of course, the problem is this infatuation can lead to infarction, that is, stroke or heart attack. Because men usually develop heart disease 10 to 15 years earlier than women do, men are more likely to die from it in the prime of their lives, says the American Heart Association.
Which brings us to this recommended change of habit: If you eat a lot of red meat, start replacing a few meals each week with white meats, fish, or plant-based proteins. And keep close to your heart this warning from the National Institutes of Health that eating red meat every day triples the amount of a heart-disease related chemical called Trimethylamine N-oxide in your bloodstream.
Or start incorporating these Best Forms of Lean Protein You Can Eat into your diet.
Eat a range of vegetables in different colors.
Eating a range of different colored vegetables is a great habit to get into, suggests Wesley McWhorter, Dr.PH, RDN, an assistant progressor of nutrition at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Dallas. Are you meeting your daily quota? Only 9% of American men eat the recommended 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In particular, put purple cabbage on your grocery list.
“One of the highest antioxidant value vegetables is purple cabbage, it’s super inexpensive, and it lasts forever,” says McWhorter. “And it’s high in fiber so it feeds the good bacteria in your gut.”
Here are the 15 Best Frozen Fruits & Vegetables to Keep on Hand.
Stop eating at 8 p.m.
Many men consume a lot of calories late at night, suggests a recent Grub Hub white paper, which found that men are 55% more likely than women to order food during the hours between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.
If that’s a habit of yours, consider the possible health ramifications: A study reported in a 2020 edition of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism supports other research showing a correlation between late-night eating and obesity and metabolic syndrome. In the new study, researchers tested the blood of healthy volunteers after they ate a meal at 10 p.m. before going to bed at 11 and compared it to a blood test following dinner at 6 p.m. on another day. They found that eating a late dinner worsens glucose tolerance and reduces the amount of fat the body burns.
“If the metabolic effects we observed with a single meal keep occurring chronically, then late eating could lead to consequences such as diabetes or obesity,” says study author Jonathan C. Jun, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
Here are 7 Hacks For Curbing Your Late-Night Cravings.
Control your portions.
Developing a mastery of portion control is one of the best skills for maintaining a healthy weight without denying yourself the pleasures of eating. Get into this habit when eating a less-than-healthy food or dessert, suggests McWhorter: “Cut the portion in half. When finished if you still happen to be hungry for more, go get more.”
Or try these 18 Easy Ways to Control Your Portion Sizes.
Skip chips, snack on popcorn.
A cup of potato chips (crushed to fill a cup) contains 298 calories on average. How often do you stop at a cup? Uh, huh. Let’s be honest: it’s tough to say no to more of that salty, greasy, delightfully crunchy snack (and we’re not even talking about the anecdotally addictive salt & vinegar variety). But if you made a habit of munching on popcorn instead, your belly would likely feel satisfied much quicker on much fewer calories, according to a study in Nutrition Journal.
Chase every beer with a glass of water.
That goes for wine and cocktails, too. If you make a habit of drinking a tall glass of water in between alcoholic beverages at, say, a party, it’s very likely you’ll cut the amount of alcohol you consume at that party in half, you’ll trim calories, and may even avoid a hangover. It’s well established that habitual heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk of cardiovascular and liver disease, metabolic syndrome, including diabetes, and certain cancers. Booze is also a diuretic, so drinking water in between alcoholic beverages can replenish your fluids and help you stay hydrated.
For more quick weight-loss tricks, check out The 22 Best Tips to Start Losing Weight, According to Dietitians.
Eat more fish, fruit, and olives.
At the risk of sounding like Zorba the Greek on perpetual repeat, the famed Mediterranean-style diet has been shown in dozens of studies to be effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and overall mortality. That alone is a reason to habituate eating the plant-based (with some fish) diet.
But here’s another for young guys inclined toward immortality: A review of observational studies involving more than 9,000 men reported in the journal Andrology found that gents with diets that regularly included fruits and vegetables as top sources of vitamins, and fish or low-fat dairy products as the main sources of proteins tended to have higher sperm counts and greater motility.
Eat an avocado a day.
Men are more likely than women to have high blood pressure, at least until age 45 when the gender divide evens out. Since hypertension is a common precursor to heart disease, a good preventive step is to eat more potassium-rich foods; potassium flushes sodium out of your body through your urine and helps blood vessels relax.
You know that bananas are a good source, but even better is avocado, according to the American Heart Association. In addition, one study found that people who added one avocado daily to their diets had fewer small, dense LDL (bad) cholesterol particles in their blood than they did before adding avocado. What’s more, the heart-healthy monounsaturated fat in avocado satisfies hunger for a long period of time, which may reduce the need for snacking, researchers say. If you do, Here’s What Happens to Your Body When You Eat an Avocado.
Other foods that are both satiating and rich in potassium include sweet potatoes, fiber-rich leafy greens, beans, and legumes.
For more healthy nutrition habits that’ll reduce your risk of heart disease, grab a copy of The 14-Day Anti-Inflammatory Diet by Mike Zimmerman and the editors of Eat This, Not That!