Healthy eating isn't about strict nutrition philosophies, staying unrealistically lean, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it is about knowing the tips to develop a healthy diet to feel good, have more energy, stabilize the mood, and stay as healthy as possible, all of which can be achieved by learning some basic concepts of nutrition and use them in a way that works for each of us.
You can expand your range of healthy food options and learn to plan ahead to create and maintain a tasty and healthy diet.
9 Tips to develop a healthy diet
Tip 1 Install yourself in success
Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories or measuring portions, think about your diet in terms of color, variety, and freshness. This way it will be easier to make healthy decisions. Focus on finding foods you like and easy recipes that incorporate some fresh ingredients. Little by little, your diet will be healthier and more delicious.
Start slow and make changes to your eating habits as time goes on
Trying to eat a healthy diet at night is not realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Take small steps, like adding a salad (with lots of different colored vegetables) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking. As small changes become a habit, you can continue to add healthier options to your diet.
Every change you make to improve your diet matters
You don't have to be perfect, and to have a healthy diet you don't have to completely cut out the foods you like. The long-term goal is to feel good, have more energy, and reduce your risk of cancer and disease. Don't let your mistakes derail you, every healthy food choice you make counts.
Think of water and exercise as food groups in your diet.
Water helps cleanse our systems of waste products and toxins, yet many people go through life dehydrated, causing fatigue, lack of energy, and headaches. It's common to mistake hunger for thirst, so staying well hydrated will also help you choose healthier foods.
Exercise. Find an activity that you like to do and add it to your day, just like adding healthy vegetables, blueberries, or salmon. The benefits of exercise are abundant throughout life, and regular exercise can even motivate you to make healthy food choices out of habit.
Tip 2 Moderation is the key
Try not to think of certain foods as "off limits"
When you forbid certain foods or food groups, it is natural to want those foods more, and then you feel like a failure if you give in to temptation. If you find yourself attracted to sweet, salty, or unhealthy foods, start by reducing your portion sizes and not eating them as often. Later, you may find yourself wanting them less or thinking of them as just occasional indulgences.
Think in smaller portions
Portion sizes have grown recently, especially in restaurants. When eating out, choose a starter instead of a main dish, split a plate with a friend, and don't order anything that is extra-large. At home, use smaller plates, think about portion sizes realistically, and start small. If you don't feel satisfied at the end of a meal, try adding more leafy greens. Visual cues can help with portion sizes, your serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be the size of a deck of cards, a slice of bread should be the size of a CD case, and half a cup of Mashed potato, rice, or pasta is about the size of a traditional lightbulb.
Tip 3 It is not just what you eat, but how you eat.
Eat with other people whenever possible
Eating with other people has numerous social and emotional benefits, particularly for children - and it allows you to model healthy eating habits. Eating in front of the television or computer often leads to mindless overeating.
Take the time to chew your food and enjoy your meals
Chew your food slowly, savoring each bite. We tend to rush through our meals, forgetting to feel the real taste of food flavors and textures. Reconnect with the joy of eating.
Listen to your body
Ask yourself if you are really hungry, or have a glass of water to see if you are thirsty instead of hungry. During a meal, stop eating before you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that you've had enough to eat, so eat slowly.
Eat breakfast and smaller meals throughout the day
A healthy breakfast can jump-start your metabolism, and eating small, healthy meals throughout the day (more than the standard of three large meals) keeps your energy level and metabolism going.
Avoid eating at night
Try to eat dinner earlier in the day, and then wait 14-16 hours until breakfast the next morning. Preliminary studies indicate that this simple dietary adjustment - of only eating when you are most active and giving your digestive system a long rest each day - can help regulate weight. After dinner snacks tend to be high in fat and calories, so they are best avoided.
Tip 4 Cover your diet more with fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet. They are low in calories and rich in nutrients, which means they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
Some good options are:
Green. Expand your options beyond bright and dark green lettuce. Kale, mustard greens, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage are just a few of the options that are high in calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, and vitamins A, C, E, and K.
Sweet vegetables. Naturally sweet vegetables like corn, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, squash add sweetness to your healthy meals and reduce cravings for other sweets.
Fruits. The fruit is a tasty and satisfying way to eat fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Berries help fight cancer, apples provide fiber, oranges and mangoes offer vitamin C, and so on.
The importance of getting vitamins from food without supplements.
The antioxidants and other nutrients in fruits and vegetables help protect against certain types of cancer and other diseases. And while advertisements for supplements that promise to offer the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables in pill or powder form abound, research suggests they are not.
A daily regimen of nutritional supplements is not going to have the same impact as eating right. This is because the benefits of fruits and vegetables do not come from a single vitamin or an isolated antioxidant.
The health benefits of fruits and vegetables come from numerous vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that work together synergistically. It cannot be broken down to the sum of its parts or replicated in pill form.