by Janel Funk, RD
What Does Healthy Eating Look Like?
What Does Healthy Eating Look Like?
Healthy eating isn’t as complicated as it seems, once you get the hang of some basic guidelines. Then, you can customize your healthy eating to meet your needs, likes, and dislikes. Many people aren’t sure how to go about healthy eating, and it’s no surprise given how much conflicting information we hear about health, diets, and food. Fortunately there is no right or wrong way to eat healthfully! Just because you don’t like leafy greens doesn’t mean you have to hit the salad bar daily for lunch. And if you don’t prefer the taste of whole wheat pasta, that’s ok! It won’t derail your healthy eating habits to choose another kind. It’s important to come up with a personalized healthy eating plan that follows some general tips. Use these top tips to find your own style and start seeing the benefits of eating healthy in no time!
Choose whole foods. It’s hard to eat healthfully when your foods have long ingredient lists with tongue-twisting ingredients. By choosing whole foods, ones that are minimally processed without added ingredients, like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, grains, lean meats and dairy, you’re eliminating some excess added salt, sugar, fat, and preservatives from your diet.
Fill up on fiber. Fiber has numerous health benefits, from improving heart health, aiding in digestion, and keeping blood sugar stable. One of the essential benefits of eating healthy fiber is that it fills you up without filling you out. Fiber is found in plant-based foods, so you’ll find it in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans along with their health-boosting nutrients and antioxidants.
Stay hydrated with water.The bottled beverage industry is booming, but your best bet when it comes to hydration is to quench your thirst with water. There is no need for enhanced waters or super juices when you can get the best health benefits from eating food, not drinking it! By hydrating with water, you’ll avoid the added sugar and calories found in most bottled beverages.
Avoid excess sugar and sodium. Sugar and sodium are found naturally in some foods like fruit and dairy, but it’s the added sugar and salt we should be cautious of. Many processed products are filled with sugar and salt, which not only flavor our foods, but act as preservatives. If you stick with the “choose whole foods” tip from above, you’ll avoid a lot of the unnecessary calories and sodium that sugar and salt provide.
Portion control. Healthy eating isn’t just about what we eat, it’s about how much, too. Practice portion control on higher calorie foods, such as meat, dairy, starchy foods, and dried fruit, and eat larger quantities of low-calorie fresh fruits and vegetables. These naturally help you with portion control by displacing some higher calorie options on your plate.
Eat regularly. Some people can eat three square meals a day while others are more satisfied enjoying mini-meals and snacks every few hours. Whatever works best for you is the healthiest option. Do you become ravenous long before mealtime? Planning mid-meal snacks may help tame your hunger and help you realize the benefits of eating healthy on your own eating schedule.
Strike a balance. Make sure you have a healthy combination of fiber and protein filled foods in your meal and snacks. The fiber will fill you up while the protein satisfies you and tides you over to the next meal or snack. An apple is an even better snack when it’s dipped in peanut butter, and a veggie-based salad gets a protein boost from some added beans.
Fight off the food police. There really is no such thing as a good or bad food. Love chocolate? Enjoy a small square each day with lunch. Have a hankering for fries? Order a small size and share them with a friend on a special occasion. By allowing yourself to truly enjoy your food, you’re not only eating happy, but you’re eating healthy as well.
*Please keep in mind that the information on this site does not constitute medical advice. Before embarking on any weight loss plan or making dietary changes, you should consult your doctor.