Aside from helping you lose weight, healthy eating can have positive effects on your mood, health, and overall quality of life. Eating healthy is fairly simple. However, if you’ve been bombarded by information about popular diets and diet trends, you may be confused about what a healthy diet entails. Healthy eating doesn’t need to be as difficult as these trends make it seem. Take these small steps to improve your nutrition and become the healthiest version of yourself!
This is a simple way to ensure you’re getting all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs. Plus, if you’re filling up on fruits and vegetables you may be less hungry for unhealthy options. Choose brightly colored or dark green vegetables to eat with your meals and add fruits as a side dish or dessert. Remember, the more colorful you make your plate, the more likely you are to get the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that your body needs.
When you need a quick bite on the go, it can be easy to reach for a bag of chips or even swing by your local drive thru. Although processed food is convenient and easy to eat, it can also be very unhealthy. In fact, processed food can be so unhealthy that we wrote an entire blog post about how to avoid it! For a healthy snack, keep cut up fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator and grab them when you know you’re going to have a busy day. Or, for a non-perishable snack, popcorn is a great low-calorie option.
Regardless of how well you eat, if you’re gulping down high calorie, sugary drinks your body will surely feel the effects. The truth is the only liquid we ever need to be putting into our bodies is water. This is not to say that you can’t enjoy your cup of coffee in the morning, but its better if your coffee isn’t loaded with cream and sugar. Calories from liquid don’t fill us up in the same way calories from food do, so instead of wasting calories on drinks, stick to water and eat a food item that will actually keep you satisfied.
Whole grain foods offer many more health benefits than refined grains, which can be stripped of valuable nutrients during the refining process. Eating whole grains is associated with various health benefits such as a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer. Read the ingredients list and choose products that list whole-grain ingredients first. For example, look for words like whole wheat, brown rice, bulgur, buckwheat, rolled oats, or whole oats.
Opting for lean meat is a good way to reduce your calorie and fat intake while still consuming the recommended amount of protein. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults consume around 50 grams of protein a day depending on your sex and age group. Some of the leanest types of meat you can find are skinless chicken breast, sirloin, tenderloin, and 90% lean ground beef. Additionally, you may consider trimming any visible fat off your meat prior to cooking, or draining the fat off ground meats after cooking.
No matter what these fad diets tell you, unless you have a specific disease or dietary requirement, no foods should ever be off limits. Far too often, people go on extreme and restrictive diets that they can’t possibly maintain for long. These diets only make you feel deprived and lead to you giving up and binging on all the foods you crave. Focus on 90% whole foods, and if you want something less healthy, enjoy it in moderation. Instead of restricting yourself from the foods you love, use the tips above to develop healthy eating habits that make you feel good and are sustainable long term.