Healthy eating is one of the most important things you can do for your health.
Nutrition plays a very important role in a person’s overall health and well-being. However, with today’s fast-paced lifestyle, eating healthy food can feel like a luxury. We get caught up in routines that don’t promote healthy eating, and it tends to be hard to break them, especially when we’re busy.
But I’m here to tell you that with small, consistent changes to your routine, healthy eating can easily turn into a lifestyle.
Healthy eating doesn’t always mean trying to lose weight (although it definitely helps achieve that goal) – it means you want to stick to a healthy diet and eat nutritious, healthy foods in order to be healthy, and you want to maintain a healthy weight.
That’s why in this post, I’m sharing practical and doable tips on how you can make healthy eating a way of life.
How To Make Healthy Eating A Lifestyle
Transforming your eating into healthy eating and turning it into a lifestyle that you can actually maintain long-term isn’t something that is done overnight. If you start making drastic changes, you are more likely to give up or binge-eat, because it will be a huge change for your body, and you won’t be able to deal with it easily.
So, the solution to this is to start slow. Don’t cut out all unhealthy foods at once and start eating everything super healthy – that won’t make it sustainable.
Instead, do it gradually. If all of your meals used to be unhealthy, start with just one meal in a day. That can be breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but the easiest one would probably be breakfast.
Then, once you get used to it, you can do it for lunch as well, and then eventually dinner.
Of course, you can introduce some small changes to all meals at the beginning if you realize you’ll be able to keep up, but don’t go overboard with changes in the very beginning, because we tend to get excited about something, drastically change our lifestyle, and then end up going back because that way is not sustainable.
Sure, it takes time, but if you really want to make healthy eating a lifestyle, it’s worth going slow, as it will pay off in the end.
Plus, even those small and slow changes will make a difference – if you used to have only pastries for breakfast, or something unhealthy, and then you start having a balanced, filling, and nutritious breakfast, you’ll be able to see changes pretty soon. Then when you start changing other meals as well, it will only get better.
Eat more fruit and vegetables
This one might seem pretty basic, but that’s because it’s truly a must for healthy eating. You need to eat more fruit and vegetables if you want a healthy lifestyle. No matter if your goal is weight loss, weight management, or just building healthy habits, you need this.
However, in the spirit of starting slow, I have tips on how to introduce more fruit and vegetables into your diet without making you hate all of your meals (if you’re not a fan of fruits and veggies).
An easy way to start slow and simple is to add a fruit or a vegetable to every meal you’re eating. This might not seem slow, but hear me out. Without changing your meals, first try adding an additional side of grilled veggies, or a side salad. Then, as you start getting used to it, start changing out your meals a bit to make vegetables the main parts of it, along with protein. That way, before you know it, you’ll have a habit of eating fruits and vegetables all the time!
That tip was for someone who barely eats it ever. If you do eat it, but you want to eat more of it, you can start swapping parts of meals for veggies for every meal right away.
Whatever your current way of eating is, see what’s the simplest way to introduce fruits and veggies, and start there. Then gradually, add more and more.
Cut down on saturated fat and added sugar
Another obvious tip is cutting down on saturated fat and saturated sugar. First of all, foods with those properties are linked to heart disease and many other diseases, so it’s most definitely in your best interest to get rid of them.
Secondly, they rarely have any nutrients, so you’re eating food that’s not doing anything good for you.
Just like with other tips, the key is to start simple. If you eat foods with saturated fat and added sugar often, you don’t want to cut it out all at once – it will lead to binge-eating them.
Instead, there are a few ways to do it slowly.
One way is to go meal by meal, just like with the first tip on this list. Remove them from breakfast first, then as you get used to it remove them from lunch, and eventually dinner.
Another way to do it is to start cutting them down from every meal, but not completely – instead, cut down the portion size of that specific meal and ingredient, and substitute a part of it with something healthy and nutritious. For example, if you’re eating a burger and french fries, you can try to eat half of a burger, french fries, and add a big salad on the side. Or, swap the fries for a salad. That way, you’re slowly switching out those unhealthy foods for healthy ones. Then as you get more used to it, you can start cutting them out completely.
Make every meal balanced
It’s important to eat all food groups, as a balanced diet is key to a healthy lifestyle. You want to eat high-protein foods (lean meat, eggs, beans, tofu, etc.), healthy carbs (quinoa, brown rice, potato, etc.), healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, etc.), and of course, fruits and vegetables for fiber.
All food groups have their own purpose in a diet – they all bring their own nutrients and improve your overall health.
So, an easy way to go toward healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle is to make sure every meal is balanced and has all of those food groups. At first, you don’t need to change much – just check what food groups are included in your meal, and if it’s not balanced, add certain elements to the dish to make it balanced.
Then when you pair it with the rest of the tips from the list eventually, it will lead to a healthy lifestyle you can do long-term.
Make easy swaps
Another easy tip for switching to a healthy lifestyle is making easy swaps. You can, again, start slow and then build up gradually.
Easy swaps basically mean you’re swapping an unhealthy ingredient or a dish, for a healthier version that has the similar taste or effect.
You can start out with swapping ingredients, and then eventually whole meals. This can mean changing out the way you prepare an ingredient (going from frying to baking), or changing out the ingredient altogether.
For example, swap regular pizza for a cauliflower-crust pizza. Swap out regular french fries for fries from the oven or an air fryer. Swap out fried chicken for grilled or baked chicken. Swap out ice cream for a thick smoothie bowl. Swap out heavy cream-based pasta sauce for a vegetable-based pasta sauce. Swap out white bread for whole-grain bread. Swap out regular high-fat milk for fat-free or low-fat milk.
There are so many swaps you can make that will help you introduce more healthy ingredients into your diet. As you do it more, it will become easier to eat healthy foods, and eventually, you’ll end up eating healthy all the time, without even realizing it. That’s the beauty of doing it gradually.