Eating healthy starts with making small choices.
For a long time, eating healthy on a regular basis seemed like an impossible task. I would do okay for a few days, meal prepping my way to success and making great choices for lunch and dinner. But then, I would start making all kinds of excuses for not sticking to my meal plan. I was too busy to prepare that planned dinner (even though I already had all the ingredients). Or, I had to grab something on-the-go instead of going back to the office for the lunch that was ready in my mini-fridge. Instead of cooking dinner, I would meet a friend for drinks and conveniently stay out too long (oops, no time to cook dinner anymore!). Burgers, fries, pizza, nachos, burritos, and fried rice: they all called my name. I had learned how to start eating healthy today…but I could never make today last longer than a few days.
Now that I’ve been eating healthy for a few years, I find myself craving vegetables and lean meats. When I eat unhealthy food, it just makes me guilty and bloated. But, back then, it was almost like I was addicted to junk food. It turns out that’s not too far from the truth! Studies have shown that high-fat and sugary foods affect our brains in a similar way to cocaine. These kinds of foods hijack our brain and make us crave certain kinds of food. In my case, it was cheesy, fatty, carbohydrate-rich foods.
The best way change? Start by recognizing your food cravings and replacing them with healthy choices. These 7 healthy eating tips for how to start eating healthy today really changed my life and helped me find a better, healthier lifestyle. I hope they can help you, too!
1. Start by Making Small Choices
Learning how to start eating healthy today is really all about making the small choices. If you go out to eat seven days a week, it’s unrealistic to think you can change your life overnight. Don’t plan to cook from-scratch meals every day – just start with cooking three to five days a week, or maybe just try to bring your lunch every day for one week.
When you make small goals, it’s easier to stick to them. You’ll feel great with every accomplishment, which will motivate you to keep going! It doesn’t have to be all about food choices, either. Learn how to take the first steps to crushing your weight loss goals with some fitness and cardio advice.
2. Make a Plan and Stick to It
Once you’ve decided how to start your healthy lifestyle change, make a plan and stick to it. Don’t buy a weeks worth of food and let it go bad in the fridge! If you brought your lunch but your friends want to go out to eat, consider eating before you go and just going along for the company. When you’re meeting coworkers for happy hour after work, choose an easy dinner (like a healthy frozen meal or one of these zero-prep slow cooker meals) instead of attempting to make a complicated dinner when you get home.
You’ll be proud of yourself for following through, which will positively reinforce your lifestyle choices. Your brain will learn that you can feel rewards from making good, healthy choices and you’ll be less likely to crave the short-term relief of junk food.
3. Stop Eating When You’re Full
It’s one thing to eat too much on Thanksgiving – we all do that! But, if you find yourself eating to extreme fullness on a regular basis, you may have a food addiction. It’s important to remember that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, so put down the fork when you’re full. Experts suggest that you drink a glass of water 30 minutes before a meal to help you feel fuller. As a bonus, the water will also aid in digestion and help keep you from getting dehydrated.
4. Recognize if You’re Emotional Eating
I don’t know many people who reach for a carrot stick when they’re bored or feeling low! On the other hand, I have personally eaten an entire pint of ice cream or bag of chips in the same scenario. Emotional eating is an indicator that you’re following unhealthy eating patterns. If you want to know how to start eating healthy today, I can tell you that it doesn’t involve emotional eating!
Instead of reaching for the junk food, retrain your brain with healthy habits instead. The chemicals in sugary or junk food will boost your energy levels for a short period of time, but then you’ll experience a “crash” which can further worsen your mood. Instead, give it a try and crunch on that carrot stick instead! Or go to the gym and get in a quick workout. The less often you lean on junk food as a crutch, the less often you’ll need it.
5. Make Healthy Snack Choices
If that carrot stick really isn’t cutting it as a potato chip replacement, never fear. We have hundreds of healthy snack recipes on our site! These low-calorie, low-carb, and low-sugar snacks are a great way to get you through to the next healthy meal. If you deprive yourself of energy when you need it, you might find yourself binging later in the day (or, skipping that planned meal for a junk-filled one). Prevent that from happening by making smart snack choices.
6. Choose Whole Foods
In addition to making good snack choices, make great meal choices, too! Avoiding most things that come in a box or a bag is a great way to cut out processed ingredients. While we’d love for you to only eat whole foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and unrefined grains), we completely understand that not everyone has time to make all their food from scratch. There are plenty of healthful packaged choices and these time-saving products might be the difference between eating healthy or not. Just be sure you’re reading the ingredients label to be sure they contain clean ingredients, and no added sugars or artificial ingredients.
7. Seek Help If You Need it
For most of us, learning how to start eating healthy today is all about making good choices. But, for some of us, those choices may be out of our hands. If you think your food addiction goes beyond cravings, you may have an eating disorder. Talk through your situation with your doctor or find a Registered Dietitian that specializes in eating disorders. Or, call the free National Eating Disorders Association hotline.
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