Eating healthy is the first and arguably most important step towards a commitment to healthier lifestyle. However, it’s arguably the most difficult part of being healthy for someone who is making this change to stick to. In fact, even generally healthy people who work out regularly and are in shape have a difficult time eating healthy all the time.
Why? Because there are so many things out there that are so good to eat, which are not healthy for your body. We are surrounded by advertisements and displays of unhealthy food throughout every day of our lives, which makes the task of eating healthy as psychological as it is physical. With this in mind, check out the following beginner’s guide to eating healthy, served up below.
Make a Commitment
First, you have to commit to the idea of eating healthy. It doesn’t mean to eat a few healthy meals every week, or to replace a couple fast food lunches with vegetable-based smoothies — you need to make this a constant part of your new outlook on life and eating.
This is where the psychology comes into play that derails so many attempts at having a healthy diet. Eating healthy must be a important to you as being at work on time and taking care of your kids or pets.
So get a journal and write down exactly what you eat throughout the day keeping track of exactly what you are consuming so you know what you should be eating and shouldn’t be eating. Also in this journal, you might want to sign a contract with yourself that you will eat healthy from this point forward.
Go to the Grocery Store (and Buy Healthy Foods)
The next step of eating healthy is simply going to the grocery store and buying most of your food. Eating out at restaurants, while slightly more expensive, is convenient and delicious — but it’s also quite unhealthy in most cases. Restaurants add salt and ingredients that are fattier to make their customers’ food taste better so they keep coming back.
By going to the grocery store and shopping only for healthy foods, you will know exactly what you are putting in your body with every meal you make yourself. In addition, the process of actually preparing your own food makes you slow down and not just sit and eat. This also touches upon the psychology of healthy eating.
The Healthy Foods to Buy
While you can go to the grocery store for all of your food, this doesn’t mean you are necessarily buying healthy food. There are plenty of processed, fatty foods at grocery stores — much of what is on the shelves, in fact — which can hinder your attempt at eating healthy in your new life.
Foods you should purchase and consume at home should be primarily things that are fresh, not processed or hardly processed and items that do not contain large amounts of saturated fat. Fresh lettuce, spinach and other bases for salads should be a major part of your new shopping list.
If you are going to continue eating meat and cheese on a regular basis, go to the deli to have it cut fresh—don’t get the prepackaged versions of meat and cheese, as they are loaded with preservatives.
Make sure the breads were baked recently and stay away from chips, sodas, candies and cereals—anything with a large amount of sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
Your New Eating Strategy
We were always told, at least in previous generations, that three square meals per day was the best diet. And while this may be true for some people, different people have different lifestyles and metabolisms, making this way of eating somewhat unhealthy over a lifetime. It also encourages people to eat full meals on a regular basis, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. So with your new healthy eating lifestyle, you may have to rejigger your whole eating strategy.
For one, cut out eating fast food. You will never have a healthy diet if you eat fast food even on a semi-regular basis. Next, ensure you have at least one salad per day, at least as a compliment to a meal. This means a real salad with fresh vegetables and a light dressing. Not only are vegetables filled with necessary vitamins and minerals that your body desperately needs, but it replaces heavier, starchy and fatty foods you would be eating for that meal.
Also, consider eating a number of small meals per day, rather than two to three big meals. Eating until you are full is not healthy, as many people can put down a lot of food that is turned into energy they don’t use and that becomes fat. Instead, try just eating until you are no longer hungry.
Try Water for a While
The most important thing your body can have on a regular basis is water. No drink out there on the market is better for you than water at the end of the day, as there is always some ingredient in a drink that is bad for your body in too high of a quantity.
This especially applies to energy drinks and thirst quenching drinks, which are loaded with salt and soda. Cut these out of your diet as soon as possible and replace them with water. Not only will you be cutting a ton of calories from your diet, but you will also be flushing your system of sugars and other things contained in these drinks, which will allow your metabolism to level out.