11 Secrets To Making Healthy Eating Easier
Trust me when I say that I know making the shift to healthy eating isn’t always easy. I have most certainly been there. No matter what your motivation is for making a shift to your diet, consider these tips on how to start eating healthier!
1. Prepare meals in bulk - This is my number one tip when it comes to healthy eating. If you have good, nutritious food on hand when you’re staring into the fridge, hungry and tired, then you will eat good food. Not only does preparing meals ahead of time encourage you to eat better during the week, it will save you hours of prep and cook time. Simply taking an hour on the weekend, or a night during the week when you have time to chop veggies, cook up some meat, roast some sweet potatoes or put together an Almost 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie (a personal favorite!) will be the difference between a healthy or a not-so healthy week of eating.
2. Get the people around you on board - Tacking a major change in your eating habits can be hard, especially if everyone around you is still eating what may have once been typical fare for you. It’s very helpful to have friends, family, roommates or co-workers help you achieve these goals for not only the external accountability, but to reduce temptation for yourself. Whether we recognize it or not, support from these people is priceless and is a big factor when it comes to eating healthier. Who knows, maybe your new found energy and vitality will inspire them to change their own eating habits!
3. Listen to your body - So you read in a magazine that you shouldn’t eat too many carbohydrates because it can spike blood sugar and cause weight gain…well, did that magazine take into account your personal strength goals, weight loss goals or general health? Nope! Your neighbor started taking green coffee bean extract and lost ten pounds, so doesn’t that mean you will too? Nope! Individuality is so, so important when it comes to food and nutrition. I cannot stress this enough; what works for someone else, may not work for you. If you learn to listen to your body and what it is telling you, this will become your most powerful tool in your quest for better health. If you don’t feel good (whether it be mentally or physically) eating or doing something you heard about, don’t feel guilty because your body responds differently to it. Biochemical individuality is a beautiful thing that I wish more people in the health and wellness industry recognized. Everyone is different and you must figure out what works for you and what doesn’t!
4. Educate yourself - Seek out information that will reinforce your motivation and decision to eat healthier in the first place! If you know how your body works and why it’s best to feed it nutrient dense, real food, then it becomes a lot easier to choose the healthier option. The resources are innumerable, and often times free! Read books, listen to podcasts, take a free online course… these are great ways to learn more about how food affects us and get answers to questions you probably didn’t even know you had. Learning about how other people have had success (and failures, see tip number six!) with this way of eating and life approach is reassuring and motivating!
5. But don’t educate yourself too much - Information overload can lead to paralysis. There’s so much information, so we do nothing at all. And there is A LOT of information regarding nutrition and wellness out there. Learning how to filter the good from the bad can be confusing and complicated. As you learn more and more about nutrition, the information can become frustrating because there are still many unknowns and controversial topics in this field. Seeking out a healthy dose of educational information from resources that you trust and feel are helpful along your journey is the best bet.
6. Learn to cook - Not knowing how to cook is a huge inhibiting factor for many people who wish they could change their diet. I hear all the time from people that they just don’t know how or don’t have time to learn. While “learning to cook” in itself sounds like a huge task to undertake, learning how to roast vegetables, or hard-boil eggs doesn’t sound so intimidating. Learning smaller, more manageable cooking techniques over time is usually a better way to accomplish the big goal eventually. Once you learn the basics of cooking, many of the methods will translate to a variety of dishes and foods. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different things out! Cooking is an art instead of a science in my opinion; there’s more than one way to do things and if you find something that works for you and gives you the results you want, then who cares if that’s not the way a professional chef may have done it? Cooking can be intimidating, but getting into the kitchen and trying some new things out for yourself is the best way to quickly overcome that fear. And be sure to have sharp knives, which will totally enhance your cooking experience, trust me!
7. Don’t be afraid to fail - Whether it’s a recipe you totally screwed up, a healthy eating challenge you didn’t finish (guilty!), a workout goal you didn’t achieve…we all experience failures at some point on our journey. It’s taking what you learned from those failures and setting out to achieve the goal again. I continuously hear people saying things like, “well, I ate a cookie when I wasn’t supposed to, so I might as well eat the whole bag!” Then they go on to eat more cookies, a pizza and some ice cream later in the day because they ate that one cookie that derailed them from their overall goal. This is dangerous thinking. You wouldn’t slash all four of your tires just because one went flat, would you? No, that’s just crazy! So is thinking you should give up just because of a failure along the way. Pick yourself up and move forward.
8. Keep it simple - It can be overwhelming when first trying to improve your health; all the information, books, recipes, guides, plans, pills and general misinformation out there make it seem way harder than it is. Focusing on simple, real, nutrient dense foods is always the best option. If making an involved recipe from a cookbook doesn’t sound like something you’d enjoy doing, then don’t. Make a few eggs and some sautéed greens and call it a meal. Open a can of salmon and toss it with some raw veggies. Not every meal has to be something fancy or complex.
9. Don't worry about falling off the wagon - Noelle Tarr from Coconuts and Kettlebells put it simply, “There is no wagon.The secret to not falling off the wagon is to never get in it. It's just called life.” Whether you eat healthy or not, you’re always on the wagon. Everything counts. Having the mentality of being “on or off the wagon” is setting yourself up for overall failure in the long run. Implementing manageable and sustainable habits that bring you towards overall greater health add up over time, and do not ride along with you in an imaginary wagon. Allowing your success to be measured as either “good” or “bad” without any middle ground is the wrong way to achieve anything, in my experience.
10. Use sauce - While I just told you to keep it simple, sometimes simple is just too…boring. That’s where sauce becomes essential to keeping things interesting! If you’re eating many of the same foods over and over, (namely meat and vegetables!), then using different sauces can be a great way to add new and different flavors. This can be anything from a store-bought hot sauce like Cholula or Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (do check the ingredients, make sure there’s no added sugars or weird chemicals), or a chimichurri you decided to whip up yourself. Bottom line is use sauce. You won’t regret it.
11. Be prepared - Bring a snack with you from home if you’re going out and not sure when you’ll be able to eat a healthy meal again. Having a stash of healthy food items with you on the go is just as important as having healthy meals at home. Jerky, fruit, nuts, veggies, hardboiled eggs, sweet potato or plantain chips, dried coconut and dried fruit slices are all great ideas when it comes to snacks. Thinking ahead usually pays off when you’re tempted to indulge in a slice of pizza on a whim just because you’re hungry and don’t have anything more nutritious available.
I hope you find these tips helpful and let me know if you have any other pointers to add when it comes to healthy eating!