Healthy eating can be a struggle, especially when there are so many diet blogs, fitness experts and nutritionists telling you different things. This makes the entire process complicated and makes a truly healthy lifestyle feel almost unattainable. In reality, healthy eating doesn’t have to be that difficult. So, to help you out, here's your beginner’s guide to healthy eating:
Avoid Packaged Foods
The first thing you need to be mindful of when it comes to healthy eating is packaged food and processed food. Any processed items contain high quantities of saturated fat, which if eaten in large amounts, can cause heart disease. It is important to remember that packaged foods also contain lots of sugars and unhealthy flavouring. Although these items are convenient and easy to eat, they are incredibly bad for you.
If you do decide to purchase these items, take care to read the labels to see exactly what is contained. Don’t get fooled by any claims on the front of the box stating that the snacks are ‘low fat’, instead look for the nutrition facts box on the back of the packaging. It is important to pay particular attention to calories, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium.
Remember, this will usually be for one serving, so make sure to multiply it by the amount of servings in the packet. When it comes to grocery shopping, the safest option is to stick to fresh produce, such as fruits, vegetables and organic meats. You can use these to come up with healthy and delicious meal ideas to try.
Don’t Skip Meals
Many people make the mistake of skipping meals in the name of healthy eating. However, this is the exact opposite to what you should be doing. Skipping meals is dangerous because it results in you being hungry and therefore craving a quick sugar release from an unhealthy snack.
Furthermore, if you are hungry, you are likely to seek out the quickest and most available option, rather than the healthier option. Instead of skipping meals, eat regularly, and snack on fruits, vegetables and unsalted nuts. These slow release foods will provide you with energy over a longer period of time and prevent you from craving unhealthy snacks like chips and chocolate.
Plan Your Meals
Another way of making healthy eating easier is by planning meals and meal prep. Although these are concepts often spoken about by fitness junkies, it can be helpful for everyone. Planning meals gives you lots of control in terms of what you eat in a week. Essentially, you are able to write a list of what you are going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day throughout the week.
It is possible to take this concept further by implementing meal prep as well. Meal prep is basically just the process of preparing your meals in advance so they are ready for when you need them. This means that by the time it gets to dinner, you do not need to think about what you are going to have, or even cook it, because it is ready to go.
By taking the thought process out of eating, it prevents you from getting lazy and choosing the ‘easy option’ because the easiest option is the healthy meal you have prepared in your fridge.
Avoid High Calorie Drinks
A mistake that so many people make revolves around what they are drinking, rather than what they are eating. The simple fact is, regardless of how well you eat, if you are drinking lots of sugary, high calorie drinks, you are not going to lose weight or live a healthy lifestyle.
Drinks do not fill you up in the same way food does, so by drinking a sugary drink, you are wasting calories that could be better spent on a food item. In reality, the only drink we need is water, which is the best thing for us anyway. So, instead of using up calories on drinks, stick to water and save the calories for a food item that will actually sustain you.
Portion size is something many people get wrong and it is common for us to eat more than we really need. Even if your plate is filled with healthy foods, like vegetables, it is still important to make sure you aren’t overeating. Therefore, you should always try to recognise when you are feeling full and stop eating at that point.
Eating for the sake of eating is one of the main reasons why people find themselves putting on weight. As well as the size of your entire meal, you should also consider what your meal is comprised of. Nutritionists suggest that half of your plate should be vegetables and fruits, with whole grains and protein making up one quarter each.
Find a System That Works for You
Everyone is different, so why should the way we choose to eat have to follow a strict pattern? It doesn’t. The great thing about healthy eating is that as long as you are consuming the right things, in the right quantities, you can do it however you like. When it comes to eating well, you can choose; this means you can decide what meals you want to eat, or what ingredients you use.
This also means you can find a system that works best for you; for some people meal planning and meal prep is the most effective way, for others it is not. The main thing to remember is that you get to decide. It may be difficult at first to find the most effective method for you, but once you do, healthy eating won’t feel like a chore or a challenge, it will just be a positive habit and the way you live your life.
Want more? Read: How to Build a Perfectly Balanced Meal