June 28, 2021 (Updated: November 10, 2021)
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard. Nutrition is complex, and you could read about it endlessly, but you don’t have to. Eating a healthy diet is actually rather simple, and boils down to making good choices as often as possible. We are going to show you some easy tips that you can rely on to improve your diet and feel great.
Fruits and vegetables are the largest sources of micronutrients in our diet! They are full of good stuff, packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Vegetables contain phytochemicals that are responsible for their taste, smell, and color. These nutrients can help us lead a healthy life, and protect us from disease. Diets high in fruits and veggies have been shown to provide a wide range of benefits, from reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, regulating appetite, and even reducing the risk of certain types of cancer! A great tip is to fill your plate with all the different colors of the rainbow to be sure you are getting a large quantity and a wide variety of phytochemicals! Fresh produce can be expensive, but canned and frozen vegetables are healthy options that can be just as nutritious.
A whole food is simply a food that is processed as little as possible and contains no additives or artificial substances. It is fairly simple to tell when a food would be considered whole, does it exist in nature? For example, a chicken breast is a whole food, but a chicken nugget is not! A whole food can be many things including vegetables, dairy, meat, eggs, and more! Highly processed foods lose a lot of their nutritional value, so including more whole foods will increase the amount of vitamins and minerals in your diet!
To expand on eating whole foods, aim to eat mostly complex carbohydrates that have been less processed. For example, whole wheat bread and brown rice are better choices than non-whole wheat bread and white rice. Whole grains are higher in fiber and can help you feel more satisfied, especially when eaten in place of a food high in added sugars. More complex carbs are digested more slowly and provide a longer-lasting source of energy. However, don’t be afraid of naturally occurring sugars like fructose in fruits and lactose in milk (unless you are lactose intolerant).
Protein is very satiating, meaning that calories from protein make you feel more full than calories from other macronutrients. If you are eating a diet that is very low in protein, try increasing your protein intake a little to reduce your calorie intake without being any hungrier! Protein can also help you recover from workouts and build muscle. So, if you are looking to put on muscle you may have more reason to include more protein in your diet. Many protein sources also come with a large dose of fat, so try to choose leaner protein sources like low-fat dairy, seafood, chicken breast, and leaner cuts of red meat.
Fat is not always the enemy. Yes, fat is the macronutrient with the highest energy density with 9 calories per gram. This means that a portion of fat will have more than twice the calories of a portion of fat with the same weight and this is why it is sometimes treated as the villain. It is easy to eat too much! However, fat is absolutely necessary to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). Additionally, healthy fats are fantastic for your health, choosing monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats instead of trans fats and saturated fats can significantly reduce your chances of heart disease. Avocados and fatty fish are some examples of sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats respectively.
An important part of eating a healthy diet is to not overeat. One of the best ways to stop this is to try to listen closely to your hunger signals, and don’t eat beyond the point of fullness! This can be difficult sometimes, but there are some easy ways to get it done! The first is to eat more slowly. Eating slowly has been shown to make meals feel more satisfying, and make you feel fuller longer! The second is to chew your food more, some research has connected chewing with a greater feeling of fullness! You can also have a tall glass of water with your meals, eat with fewer distractions, and use smaller dishes to ensure you are controlling your portions (you can always go back for more if you aren’t satisfied).
This is fairly self-explanatory. However, some people don’t realize they are thirsty until they are already dehydrated! Dehydration can cause you to feel all sorts of awful symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, and feeling confused, and it can even damage your organs. Get yourself a reusable water bottle and bring it with you for when the feeling strikes. What an easy, no-calorie way to improve your energy and mood!
Keep some healthy staples around the house for when you are feeling snackish. Keep your fridge stocked with vegetables and fruit that you like to snack on, as well as any other healthy choices that don’t require any preparation such as yogurt. Leave large boxes of processed snacks in the grocery store, and pick up a small box. You can and should eat snacks you like! But, it is good to avoid eating them if you are doing it simply because they are lying around the house.
It can be difficult to make a healthy choice when you find yourself incredibly hungry. When you get very hungry, and there are no healthy options prepared, it's easy to pick up the most convenient food instead. Planning your meals ahead of time, and having healthy snacks and meals ready is key to avoiding a jam like this. A good trick is to have some snack and meal recipes handy that don’t require cooking and are quick to prepare. An example of a snack like this might be yogurt, berries, and granola, and a meal might be a sandwich recipe you like. If you can have a homemade meal ready in the same amount of time that it takes to cook a microwave meal, it's easier to make a healthy decision! Another trick is to cook for leftovers. Prepare your meals in batches, and utilize the freezer! Be mindful of food safety guidelines for storage, and use the defrost modes on your microwave for a more pleasant experience when cooking frozen leftovers. If you need help planning your meals in advance, try out the Prospre app. We can help you make a custom meal plan using the foods you enjoy, and give you a grocery list to make things easy.