Eating healthy is a crucial part of improving your health, losing weight, and preventing health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
At the end of the day, we all want good health.
But here is the problem:
How do you eat healthy without sacrificing your favorite foods?
Most health experts teach something valuable and well-meaning tips. But changing your diet every time you learn new information isn't always easy. Let alone consolidating all.
For example, you might hear a nutritionist advice eat good carbs and avoid bad carbs.
Then you hear another expert talks about the importance of eating superfoods, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids for aging and disease prevention.
You get excited, and then you focus on practicing its way of eating healthy for the next few days. But 2 days of eating well isn't going to impact your health and weight all that much.
And most importantly, a few days is all you need to realize you can't sacrifice your favorite meals for life, all for the name of health and ideal weight.
You think to yourself "It's not worth it.".
This is probably why most people shy away from adopting any habit known as healthy eating and foods labeled as healthy foods.
They feel the pain before they see the gain.
And overtime, they've become resistant.
But the truth is, there are million simple and not life distorting ways to eat healthy, and giving up everything you love isn't one of them. And most importantly, healthy eating isn't about changing your eating and lifestyle completely.
Eating healthy is many little habits that keep your plate clean, which most often leads to keeping your weight off and keeping disease away.
But remembering those many methods is not that easy, and applying something you don't remember is like wishing your luck upon the star. That is, unless, you have a way that forces you to remember them. A list of them.
Every time you cook and eat, you should make sure you apply as many of the methods on the list as possible.
To get you a solid start, I’ve put together a list of 7 healthy eating tips that make eating heathy easy, all while enjoying foods that taste great.
Finally, before we get started, I know that checklists aren’t really fun, but they’re effective and efficient.
Follow this list for 21 days or until they become your habit. It will improve your health and help you lose weight.
Since a heart healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke by 80% according to a study by HelpCuide.org, small, healthy changes you make based on this list can result in a big difference.
In addition to reducing your risk of diseases, there are numerous heath benefits you can immediately experience from eating healthy.
- Lose weight
- Slim your waistline
- Reduce BMI
- Decrease body fat
- Lose belly fat and dangerous visceral fat
- Have more energy
- Sleep better
- Improve your bone health and bone density.
- Improve your mental and brain sharpness
- Lower cholesterol
- Help manager blood sugar
... and much more.
Without further adieu, here are the 7 healthy eatings tips to help you develop "healthy eating habits".
1. A Healthy Grocery List: Plan Your Shopping Ahead of Time
Good intentions only get you so far when you’re in a grocery store.
But planing head will make it so much easier to shop healthy and eat healthy.
The trick is, know what foods to buy before even entering the store.
The Journal Nutrition Education and Behavior published a study that examined the effectiveness of a grocery shopping list and its relation to a healthier diet.
Researchers surveyed more 1,300 mostly overweight and obese people and found that shoppers who regularly plan ahead and create a grocery list made higher quality food choices and had lower body weight than those who didn’t.
Overall the researchers found dietary quality remained significantly higher among participants who always shopped with a list in hand.
No doubt, making a healthy grocery list is the first step to eating healthy foods.
It not only dictates what goes into your meals, but also limits bad, unhealthy foods from creeping into your fridge and pantry.
But don't go overboard on shopping for healthy foods.
Buying all things fresh and healthy is great, but make sure either you like the food itself or the meal you plan to make.
After all, good grocery shopping isn't effective unless you eat what you buy.
Don't have time to make your own list?
I thought you'd say that.
Here is a healthy grocery shopping list I put together to get you started. Mark the ones you plan to buy and go shopping!
The takeaway here: Planning ahead prevents impulse buying. It's the easiest way to curve temptations and make wise choices at the store.
2. Eat More Fruits and Veggies
You probably already know that veggies are super healthy for you, but somehow you just can't consume what's consider a recommended amount.
According to NBC News, 87% of Americans are failing to eat enough veggies.
At a glance, lack of veggies in your meals may look harmless, but Harvard research indicates otherwise.
According to Harvard School of Public Health, 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and mortality as much as 25%.
That's 5 times more than those who eat only 1 serving a day.
Another study from the University of College London, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health sees similar effects.
According to their study, eating plenty of fruits and veggies can save yourself from dying too early.
They state eating 7 servings a day results in lowering your risk of premature death by 42%.
Also its' worth noting that studies have found that compared to fruits, vegetables are a tad more beneficial as each serving of vegetable can reduce a person's death by 16 % while fruits only reduces it 4%.
And as you've guessed it, veggies are also great for weight loss.
They are not only packed with vitamins and nutrients that balance your hormones, but also low in calories, sugar and starch.
In other words, it's one group of foods you can eat a lot without worrying about weight gain.
But here is everyone's struggle with veggies.
Eating vegetables isn’t exactly the most exciting thing...
Most kids despise them, and many adults still dislike them.
With veggies, you've got to get creative.
Here are some ideas:
Stir fry: Stirring some broccoli, kale, collard greens, onions, and carrots with chicken, garlic, and rice. Viola! It's fried rice with chunks of veggies.
Healthy Sandwiches: Add more veggies to your sandwich! Add lettuce, spinach, watercress, cucumber slices, bell peppers and roasted tomatoes with olive oil, and onions, and stack them high over your favorite meat and cheese. You'll never feel like eating veggies, but you are.
Healthy Salad: “Salad” often has a reputation for being boring and tasteless— and doesn’t inspire a lot of excitement most of the time.
But when you make it at home, you have full control over how interesting and exciting they are.
This yummy looking salad from The Clever Carrot makes me want to eat salads everyday— and once you see it you will too.
You will no longer think of salads as boring or tasteless.
The salad include red leafy green spinach, oranges, lemon juice, honey, olive oil, avocado and sesame seeds— as you can this is not like boring and tasteless. You can get the full salad recipe here on her blog Red Heirloom Spinach With Soy-Ginger Vinaigrette
Blend it: Did you know you can sneak vegetables like roasted bell peppers into hummus? or make pesto sauce out of kale?
Yes, you can. You can mix in the world's most nutritional vegetables everyone loves to hate in the most unexpected places by blending it.
The best part? Your kids or spouse won't even know about it. And I bet they ever think to suspect. It's the most awesome way to eat vegetables without eating veggies.
Juice it: Yes. Just because you are consuming vegetables doesn't mean you have to eat it. You most certainly can juice it and drink it. or juice it, freeze it and make a popsicle out of it!
How about this combo: Coconut milk + kale + pineapple ? It's delicious, and yes, your kids will love it too.
With these creative ways to eat more veggies and fruits, there’s really no reason why you can’t get the recommended five servings a day of vegetables.
3. Cook Your Own Meals at home
Having all that great healthy foods in the house doesn’t do you much good if you don’t eat them.
According to a study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health—home cooking is one of the main ingredients in a healthier diet.
They wrote people who frequently cook meals at home eat healthier and consume fewer calories than those who cook less.
Cooking at home can and often is healthy because much of it is in your control.
You have control over...
- 1) quality and selections of ingredients
- 2) cooking methods
- 3) cooking oils
- 4) quantity
- 5) recipe selection
Everything that makes restaurant food unhealthy, you can change. That's the power of home cooking.
And since you are the boss in the kitchen, make sure you harness the power of saying "NO".
Say no to canola oil, lard, excessive sugar, white potatoes, soys and excessive salt.
According to Julia A Wolfson, MPP, a CLF-Lerner Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for Livable Future, when we frequently cook at home, we seem to become good at making dishes healthier.
She said "Regardless of you trying to lose weight or not, when people cook most of their own meals at home, they consume few carbohydrates, less sugar and less fat than those who cook less or not at all."
Take away: Eating at home is far more nutritious than eating outside, the foods contains less bad fat, salt and sugar. Overall you eat a healthier meal that's good for weight loss and overall health.
4. Choose Organic
If you’re going to make the effort to eat healthy, you want to buy the most nutrient dense foods— meaning foods that still contain a higher level of minerals and vitamins.
The maximum amount of nutrition occurs when the food remains as close to its natural and organic state as possible.
According to one study by Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, organic produce has 40 percent higher levels of some nutrients such as vitamin c, zing and iron.
Also another study presented in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that organically grown berries and corn have 58 percent more polyphenols— antioxidants that help prevent cardiovascular disease— and up to 52 percent higher levels of vitamin C than those conventional grown.
If you are wondering why organic foods are better than conventional foods.. this is why!
Organic foods are much healthier for you because they contain far less harmful chemical such as pesticide and antibiotics or grow hormones, which are dangerous to your health, and they tend to contain a higher level of nutrients.
When the labeled display a 100% organic, you know that the foods is at least 95 percent organic ingredients, or when made with organic ingredients that contain at least 70 percent organic.
I should also point out that the USDA organic seal does not guarantee that a product is free of non-genetically modified organisms— only products labeled 100% organic are guaranteed GMO-free.
5. Never Skip a Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day— When you eat a healthy breakfast in the morning, it sets the tone for your day.
If you fill your body with healthy nutrients to start the day, you’ll be rewarded with more energy and better mood throughout the day.
Yet, more than 31 million Americans, about 10% of the U.S.. population skip breakfast in the morning.
According to one study, skipping breakfast is a big red flag, especially for those trying to lose weight, avoid diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol.
Their study examined the effect of eating breakfast and found something very unexpected and profound.
They found, not only we should eat breakfast, but we should eat a big breakfast.
During the course of their research, the participants who ate a breakfast of 700 calories actually lost weight and reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol, than those who ate a smaller breakfast.
Here is their study.
They analyzed 93 obese women in two different groups:
- Group 1: big breakfast - consumed 700 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch and 200 at dinner
- Group 2: big dinner group - consumed 200 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch and 700 dinner.
Results saw that women from the big breakfast group had a larger decrease in insulin, glucose and triglyceride levels.
For the second group who ate a sensible breakfast (200 calories) to lose weight, researchers found that participants' triglycerides increased after meal and put them at a higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.
Another study done in 2012 shows that eating a high protein meals for breakfast may also help with satiety.
Protein is one food group that takes longer to process and keeps you full much longer than carb heavy breakfast items like waffle, pancakes and cereals.
Interested? Here is a simple example of a high protein breakfast you can start eating tomorrow.
- 2 to 3 white eggs
- turkey bacon or sausages
- one slice of whole grain toast
Take away: Make breakfast a priority for your morning regimen— Whether eggs or yogurt, don’t skip having a healthy breakfast.
6. Healthy Snacks
Have healthy snacks ready for busy time— Schedules can be unpredictable at time and last minute changes strike without warming.
This is why having healthy snacks in hand is important.
It doesn’t have to be anything special or big— it can be something you can bag like mixed nuts and jerky.
Nuts in particular are excellent as snacks, and if you look closely at many energy bars, nuts are main ingredients.
They are packed with good fats, nutrients, and minerals that promote weight loss and other health benefits.
Almonds particularly contain high levels of magnesium, which regulates blood sugar and reduces food cravings.
Other nuts such as walnuts, pistachios and peanuts are also great as snacks.
Beef, turkey, bison and salmon jerky are also great healthy snacks ideas.
They are high in protein (9 grams of protein in 1oz), portable and mess-free.
Depending on the brand, they may be high in sodium and sugar. Check the label before deciding on the brand.
"High protein snacks" are a perfect way to fill you up just enough between meals and give energy you need to sustain yourself throughout the day.
Take away: A quick, ready to-eat snacks like nuts and jerky help ensure you always have a healthy option to turn to, even when you’re hustling to make a deadline or constantly on the go. It's a great way to avoid fast-food traps!
7. Reducing Sugar From Your Diet
I know how sugar is delicious and tempting and even comforting— but sugar it’s also dangerous for your health and waistline.
In other words, there isn't anything sugar can't destroy.
Despite all of the effort to cut back and reduce sugar from the everyday diet— many Americans still over consume sugar by a big margin.
"Many Americans eat about five times the amount of sugar they should consume," says Natasa Janicic-Kahric, an associate professor of medicine at Georgetown University Hospital and contributor to The Seattle Times.
While the American Heart Association recommends six teaspoons of sugar a day, many women consume as much as 30 teaspoons of sugar; men take in 45 teaspoons of sugar instead of nine.
It's epic amount of sugar causes sudden spikes and drops in blood sugar levels, possibly leading to sugar crash and sudden headache, fatigue, irritability, increased heart rate and anxiety.
Consuming excess sugar in diet has also been to linked to type 2 diabetes.
How do Americans eat so much sugar despite their efforts to cut back?
It's the hidden sugar that's lurking everywhere, yet not accounted for.
It's easier to avoid obvious sugar-byproducts like candies, sodas and juices.
But when more than 70% of packaged foods purchased in the United States contain sugar, suddenly avoiding sugar becomes a mission impossible.
You see, when most people go on a low-fat diet, trying to cut back on saturated fat, they often mistakenly and unknowingly eat more sugar.
This may be because many of the low-fat foods have removed the saturated fat and replaced it with sugar to improve flavor and taste.
Reducing the amount of candy and deserts you eat is only a small part of the solution as sugar is also hidden in foods such as bread, cereals, canned soups and vegetables, pasta sausages, ketchup, margarine, instant mashed potatoes frozen dinners, and low-fat foods.
Just by consuming these packaged foods, you are taking in more sugar than your body needs for the day.
This is one of the reasons why it's important to cook at home and make meals from fresh ingredients as much as possible.
Tips for reducing sugar from your diet:
Avoid sugary drinks: This is probably one of the fastest way to cut back on sugar— by eliminating soft drinks and other juices, you can already cut over 40 grams of sugar (equivalent to 10 teaspoons).
Watch out with low fat foods: Many people make the mistake of replacing healthy sources of saturated fat, such as whole milk diary, with low-fat milk which are often higher in sugar, thinking they are making healthier choices.
Low-fat doesn’t necessarily mean it is healthy, just as organic foods don’t necessarily are healthy— it only means that it is lower in fat.
Especially when the fat has been replaced by added sugar to make up for loss taste, it's not always a healthy swap.
Avoid processed foods or packaged foods: As I mentioned earlier, more than 70% of packaged foods in the United States have added sugar in them. Pay extra attention to products like canned soups, frozen dinners, low-fat meals, and sweeter condiments, they often have hidden sugar that quickly surpasses the recommended limit.
For easy calculations, 5 teaspoons of sugar is equal to 20 grams of sugar. Aim that as your total daily sugar intake.
There you have it! Eating healthy is much simpler than most people think. Just making a few substitutions and swapping unhealthy foods for healthy ones is a good start.
What do you think? Do you have any healthy tips for us? Leave a us a comment below to let us know.