Are you the kind of person that wishes you could eat healthy but doesn’t quite know how? Are you even sure about what healthy eating actually entails? Don’t worry, we won’t judge. There was a period of time in our lives where we too were mind boggled by what constituted healthy eating and what didn’t. After all, we all have to start somewhere when it comes to building our knowledge about healthy living and the best way to fuel our bodies for long term health.
Tip 1: Know What “Real” Food Is
Just because it looks edible doesn’t mean you should eat it. If you’re serious about wanting to eat healthy, the first step is to make sure you’re only real food. Now, when we say real food, we don’t mean that canned, packaged or processed stuff you find all over our grocery stores these days. Go for whole foods. You know, produce that actually grew in the ground, was plucked out of a tree or plucked responsibly from the sea?
Tip 2: Know What “Junk” Food Is
Essentially, if it comes in a wrapper, through a drive-thru window, is purchased through a vending machine or comes in a box, it’s probably going to be junk food. Sometimes, even food marked with “low fat” or “good for you” can be considered junk because of a crazy ingredient list full of preservatives or substances like high fructose corn syrup. At the end of the day, if it comes in the box, the less ingredients, the better.
Tip 3: Learn How to Read Nutrition Labels
Unfortunately, manufacturers can put whatever they want on the front of a box these days to entice you to buy their products. Thankfully, they’re duty bound to put nutrition facts on the back of the box. It’s time to start learning how to read these. Some key facts to look at are the sugar content, the calories per serving, sodium and saturated fat. It’s a good idea to check how much of the calories come from the fat in the product. If more than 50% of the calories are accounted for due to fat alone, ditch it. If the sodium hits the thousands per serving, ditch it. If the sugars are over 5 grams a serving, ditch that too.
Tip 4: Eat Healthy Because You Want To
Let’s be real. When it comes to healthy eating, your commitment is important. You can have all the good food in your home that you want but it’s easy to go astray if you’re not committed to eating well. You have to make the choice for yourself instead of making the change just because someone is asking you to. If you’re not doing it for yourself, eating healthy will be hard and it will feel like absolute torture. Trust us, we’ve been there.
Tip 5: Don’t Try to Change Everything at Once
Rome wasn’t built in a day. In the same way, you can’t expect to give yourself a full on healthy eating make over in a day. You may not even be able to expect it in a week. Instead of being frustrated with not being able to completely change your eating habits right away, see each little step as small victories. You’re still making progress and taking concrete actions towards your goal of living and eating healthily. In the same way, if you’re used to eating over 4,000 calories a day, then you’re probably going to want to off yourself if you immediately drop to a 2,000 calorie per day diet. Ween yourself off the extra calories.
Tip 6: Think Long Term
A moment on your lips, a lifetime on the hips. It’s funny how accurate these adages are. In this case, it means that you should stop being a slave to your taste buds. You don’t need to be eating that donut or downing that bag of chips just because you want to. At the same time, you should understand that you need to start exercising wiser decision making. Shoving sweets and junk laden food into your system day in and day out doesn’t just mess with your health, it messes with your brain. It triggers more cravings and makes you more susceptible to the sneaky marketing of fast food chains everywhere.
Tip 7: Know the Anatomy of a Pound
If you want to eat healthy for the purpose of losing weight, it’s important to know what the equivalent of a pound is to calories. To make it simply, here’s the equation: 3,500 calories is equal to one pound of fat. Given that logic, if your main goal is to lose a pound in a week through smart nutrition alone, you can do so by eating 500 calories less than you need per day. If you’re throwing exercise into the picture, then you need to be burning 500 calories more per day that you eat. This brings us to our next tip…
Tip 8: Track Your Calories
Your commitment to eating healthy and keeping track of your calories is best exemplified by how dedicated you are to track your calories. When we say track, we really mean to track every single bit of food you put in your mouth. If you’re popping a couple of biscuits in your mouth nonchalantly, you need to write it down. If you’ve stolen a handful of chocolate covered almonds from your buddy’s desk, you better make sure you list that down too. There’s no room for “lenience” and if you’re not honest with your tracking, you’re only fooling yourself anyways.
Tip 9: Be Smart About Your Calories
As you start making these changes to your eating, you can start applying wiser choices throughout the day. For example, 2,000 calories worth of carbohydrates won’t keep you as full and won’t fuel you as effectively as 2,000 calories worth of whole meat and vegetables will. At the same time, your body would probably benefit more from 200 calories worth of avocados than it will from 200 calories of milk chocolate. As your progress, these choices will become no brainers.