Healthy eating is not just about maintaining an unrealistic weight, strict nutrition philosophies, or avoiding eating all the foods you enjoy. Healthy eating starts with learning how to “eat smart”. It’s more about how you eat, rather than what you eat. You can reduce the risk for illnesses like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and depression by making wise food choices.
In order to set yourself up for success, you should work toward a healthy diet by taking a series of small, manageable steps instead of making one massive, radical change. When you approach each of these changes with commitment, one by one, you will be enjoying a healthy diet much sooner than you had imagined.
Keep things simple. Rather than obsessing about measuring portions and counting calories, look at your diet in terms of variety, freshness, and color. This should make it much easier to make healthy food choices. Look for foods that you like and use easy recipes that call for several fresh ingredients. Over time your diet will become both healthy and delicious.
Start out slowly and change your eating habits gradually, over time. It’s neither smart nor realistic to try to change to a healthy diet overnight. When you try to change everything at once it often leads to cheating or giving up entirely on adopting a healthier diet. For example, add a salad to your eating plan just once a day or try using olive oil instead of butter when cooking. When these small changes start to become habit you can keep adding healthier choices to your diet.
Any change that you make that improves your diet makes a difference. You don’t have to worry about being perfect or entirely eliminating foods you like in order to eat a healthy diet. The long term goal to eating healthy foods is to feel good. Wise food choices will give you more energy and reduce the risk of certain diseases. Don’t allow any slip-ups to derail your plan. Every time you make a healthy food choice makes a difference to your health.
Remember that moderation is key. Many people think that healthy eating has to be an all or nothing proposition, but the real foundation for a healthy diet is moderation. Regardless of what some fad diets lead you to believe, humans require a balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in order to sustain a healthy body.
You should never think of specific foods as “off limits”. Anytime you ban food groups or specific foods, you will naturally want these foods. When you eventually give in to temptation and eat one of the banned foods, you might feel like a failure. If you enjoy salty, sugary, or unhealthy foods, try eating them less often and reduce the portion size when you do eat them. You will eventually start craving them less often and start thinking of them as an occasional treat.
Think about portion sizes. Over the years, serving sizes seem to have increased, especially in restaurants. When you dine in restaurants opt for an appetizer rather than an entrée or share a meal with a friend. When ordering, never supersize anything. When you eat at home use smaller plates and always consider serving sizes realistically.
When trying to control portion sizes, visual cues often help. Any serving of chicken, fish, or meat should be approximately the size of a deck of playing cards. A slice of bread should be about the size of a CD case and one teaspoon of salad dressing or oil is about the size of a matchbook.