The first thing I’m going to tell you is not to drive yourself crazy! Don’t make it harder on yourself than it needs to be. There is a process for healthy eating made easy, and you are not alone.
This whole “healthy eating” thing leaves many of us confused and even intimidated to start eating better.
There are thousands of articles, books, and infinite resources to get information on the topic—all of which can be overwhelming, making you afraid to even start.
The bad news is that so much of it is wrong…
Reality check: Eating healthy is simple, easy, and approachable.
All that’s required is for you to stay consistent with daily habits, make informed decisions, and manage your self-control.
I KNOW...people tell me all the time that it’s easier said than done…forgive me, but like Bruno Mars says “Don’t believe me? Just watch!”
Take at least the first steps towards a positive lifestyle change by looking at these common sense actions. You can take those steps right now, today, as soon as you’re finished reading this…
Makes sense, doesn’t it? If it’s not around, you will not eat it.
Why keep stuff around to tempt you, to make you come up with excuses to give in to a craving – or how about this: to enable your family to also eat unhealthy snacks?
There are multiple well-researched studies suggesting that junk food alters the brain in animals and humans who are predisposed to obesity. It’s true.
➡ These studies have suggested that junk food alters the brain in obesity-prone animals and humans in a way that is similar to what occurs in addiction.
➡ Processed food is purposely manufactured that way to encourage you to keep buying it (think added sugar and salt).
2. Be Realistic And Specific About Your Goals
Ask yourself what goals you personally want to accomplish:
➡ Do you want to learn how to count calories or use the glycemic index to lose a certain amount of weight?
➡ Do you want to improve your current physical condition?
It’s doable and does not have to hurt…Again, see the links at the end of this article, or check out the advice under the ©Fit For Heart Life category on the right side of the page.
Be completely realistic about how you plan to make every goal a reality. Even accomplishing short-term goals is a milestone—don’t discredit any step you take towards better health.
➡ Start small by replacing all your drinks with water as opposed to soda.
➡ Start eating vegetables with every meal for one week.
Short-term goals are the foundation of long-term goals. Start small. Life-long changes (and this should be your biggest goal) don’t happen overnight and are never gratified instantly.
3. Prepare Your Grocery List Ahead Of Time
Never go to the grocery store when you’re hungry or lacking a prepared list.
If you do, you’ll most likely end up buying things impulsively and spending money on unhealthy items.
➡ Everything else you’ll find in the middle aisles is mostly processed and canned foods and snacks with too much sugar.
Save yourself from getting in trouble by completely avoiding these areas.
4. Meal Preparation
Meal prepping helps you establish and commit to what your diet plan will look like for the week, removing the inclination to grab take-out during a work break or buying a meal on a whim.
Not only that, but meal prepping saves you time and money.
➡ Dedicate several hours or some specific time of a day to prepare for cooking an entire week’s worth of meals. You never have to worry about what to eat for dinner again or feel rushed if there’s always a delicious and healthy meal waiting for you in the fridge.
➡ To take meal prepping one step further, always pre-chop fruits and vegetables once you get them home from the grocery store and package them in containers or freezer bags.
5. Be Mindful Of How You Prepare Your Food
Just because a certain type of food is healthy, such as green beans or a piece of salmon, does not mean it’s always nutritious. It depends on how you cook it.
➡ Avoid frying your food in saturated oil, deep-frying them, or salting them excessively.
These cooking methods add excess amounts of sodium and fat to your foods, which automatically counters their nutritional value.
➡ Instead, sauté, bake, or grill meals with cooking spray.
Forget the idea that healthy meals need to be bland and dreadful to eat. There are hundreds of spice combinations you can use on food that are even more delicious than salt and actually have beneficial properties.
➡ For example, ginger is a common spice used in Asian food that has proven anti-inflammatory properties and is also used to treat nausea.
6. Simplify Your Recipes
Like healthy eating, a recipe doesn’t have to be complicated.
➡ The best basic rule to follow is to eat a plate made up of only of vegetables, whole grains, a healthy protein, and fruits—according to studies illustrated on a chart from Harvard’s School of Public Health.
For example, a meal that fits this recommendation is a plate of grilled chicken, steamed vegetables, white rice, and a small fruit bowl and glass of water on the side. How you flavor them is what makes the difference between a bland “diet” meal and a mini-feast.
7. Snack Healthy Throughout The Day
➡ Keep your appetite at bay and snack on healthy foods to boost you out of those low-energy hours or moments we all go through.
If you’re a diabetic, snacking is especially beneficial since it helps to regulate your blood sugar level.
➡ What’s more is that snacking prevents large spikes in blood sugar levels, thereby reducing your likelihood of developing cardiovascular issues, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes in the long run.
8. Practice A Healthy Eating Mindset
This means being mindful, paying attention, to your eating habits and decisions.
➡ Take or make the time to read nutrition labels and analyze a food’s ingredients. That is how you’ll know if something’s been processed with chemicals instead of being prepared organically or sustainably.
Having a healthy mindset involves practicing self-control in the face of junk food and understanding why it’s better to make a healthy decision rather than an unhealthy one.
9. Satisfy Your Cravings With Healthy Alternatives
When you crave something salty or sweet, seek out healthy alternatives. For example:
➡ If you have the urge to eat a pack of cookies, opt for eating fruit instead.
➡ If you have salt cravings, a burger or any other greasy food may emotionally satisfy them, but don’t give in, because filling up on those foods often ends up making you feel worse.
➡ Dip carrot sticks in homemade chickpea spread to satisfy the craving and get a fiber bonus.
➡ Try olive spread smeared on whole grain crackers to calm a craving for salty food.
Be creative, but always choose fresh, whole foods over highly processed foods with added salt or sugar.
10. Exercise as well as practice healthy eating.
Of course, add exercise to a healthy diet habit to get the full benefits of a wholesome lifestyle.
➡ Daily exercise will help maintain your weight and reduce your chances of developing chronic diseases.
➡ Exercise also boosts your mood since it kickstarts the production of endorphins and improves your overall emotional and physical well-being.
Improved self-esteem is a key psychological benefit of regular physical activity.
➡ When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.
Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine.
➡ For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.” That feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.
➡ Endorphins also act as analgesics, which means they diminish the perception of pain.
➡ Exercising also increases your self-awareness about how food affects you over time, which is another factor that impacts potential food choices.
Once you have the right strategies in mind to tackle healthy eating and take action to follow them, staying healthy will become easier.
It won’t happen overnight, nothing lasting ever does, but don’t give up on trying to live a healthy lifestyle.
➡ Don’t be discouraged if you make mistakes along the way, everyone makes them, including me (lots of them!).
At the end of any given day, what really matters is being intentional with this lifestyle change to improve your well-being and overall quality of life.
The one piece to take away with you after reading this article is to stay consistent with healthy eating habits (but don’t give up if you “blow-it” one day!).
A positive and dedicated attitude towards healthy living is just as important as the choices you make.