Just the words eating healthy can onset a sense of dread, depression, discouragement or restriction among many people. Luckily, the fact is that eating healthy is quite simple if you keep it that way: simple. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be intimidating and you don’t even have to restrict yourself from occasional treats. The point of eating healthy is to give your life some balance, and in this particular circumstance, you’re just balancing out your foods a little bit. After all, eating healthy is no different than maintaining a healthy budget. You can’t spend your entire paycheck on material things and neglect your bills, just like you also can’t spend your daily calories on junk food and neglect your body. Eating healthy can help you feel better, look better and even affect the way your brain and mood work. Give yourself the joy of simplicity when it comes to eating healthy with these 7 simple tips.
1. Start Slow
Just because you’ve decided to start eating healthy doesn’t mean you need to try every diet out there or cut out multiple food groups. In fact that is one of the worst things you could do. Start slow. First cut out refined sugar, especially from major sources like junk food, fast food, soda and sugary snacks of all kinds. Along with cutting out sugar, be sure to exclude refined grains, which are pretty much void of nutritional value. They cause your blood sugar to spike just like sugar does, which makes you crave unhealthy foods all over again. Just cutting out refined sugars and refined grains of all kinds will make a tremendous difference in your progress and is less intimidating than removing too many carbs, fats, etc.
2. Make a Grocery List
The hardest part about eating healthy at home is fighting the temptation of unhealthy foods in the house. So, to take care of that problem, just buy healthy foods at the store and make a list so you stick to your items and don’t go astray. If there’s something in your cart that isn’t on your list, reevaluate why you feel you really need that food or if it was an impulse buy. Make a rule. Nothing off the list goes in the cart.
3. Purge the Pantry
If you’ve got donuts, cookies and crackers in your cabinet that don’t support your new healthy lifestyle, purge your pantry. Seriously. Either toss the food or donate it to a food pantry. It will haunt you every single night after dinner until you do. Why put yourself through the worry of trying to avoid those tempting foods? Just remove them. You’ll feel so empowered once you do.
4. Drink More Water
I’m not going to tell you that you have to only drink water to eat healthy. All you really need to do is drink more water. That can mean water from herbal teas, green tea, and even a couple cups of coffee per day. Regular water is great, but add a squeeze of lemon if you need to give it some extra zing. Jazz up your water with some lemon, limes or even strawberries to give your water a natural sweet essence. You’re more likely to drink it if you enjoy it.
5. Say No to Fast Food
I’ve never had an obsession with fast food, but many people can’t drive by a certain favorite fast food restaurant without pulling in and ordering something without thinking. Know firsthand that those fast food menu options are chemically created to make you crave them. They’re laced with trans fats, processed sugars, refined grains, way too much sodium, GMO soy and corn, and tons of nasty chemicals. These foods become drugs for your brain, telling you that you need them and that you’re hungry. What your body really needs is nourishment from plant foods. You’ll never know how wonderful you can feel eating healthy until you experience what healthy food taste like. Healthy foods ground you, balance you, and within a couple weeks, your tastebuds will literally crave healthy foods. Say no to fast food first and everything else falls into place.
6. Eat More at Home
Many restaurants have healthy options, but to make the best health food possible, eat more dishes at home. Be sure to prepare foods with healthy ingredients and search for easy to make recipes, or even make ahead dishes if you’re short on time. Implement healthy yet quick options for breakfast, such as low sugar smoothies, sprouted whole grain bread with almond butter, overnight oatmeal in the fridge, hard-boiled eggs with fruit, or yogurt with some fruit and nuts. These are all healthy options you can eat at home and can be quicker and less expensive than grabbing fast food options. Also, pack your own lunches, just keep them simple. Be sure to use less salt and emphasize more herbs and spices that are salt-free in your diet. Many restaurants that offer healthy options still contain over your daily limit of sodium requirements.
7. Don’t Obessess over Calories
Most people get caught up in calories, but that really isn’t necessary. Focus more on the quality of your food than your calorie intake. I don’t count calories, and in fact, many healthy foods I eat daily are higher in calories, such as nuts, seeds, coconut oil, coconut and flax oil. The bottom line is, I implement my diet with tons of veggies, organic local eggs, wild salmon and organic kefir. Leafy greens and veggies are at every single meal I eat and by doing this, I’m crowding out the bad stuff with the good stuff. You can do the same! Don’t think about how many calories you’re eating. Focus more on the content of your foods.
If you’re struggling with eating healthy, I totally understand. Many years ago, I was in the same boat. I used these exact same 7 steps and they worked like a charm. I never felt deprived and I felt like a new person. Be sure to eat when you're hungry and stop just before you’re full. Too much sodium, fat, sugar and processed chemicals are the enemies. After that, the options are really limitless. What are your favorite tips for eating healthy?