Eating healthy can be hard. When I first moved away for college, I was that girl that went out to dinner with friends every night, and bought food from restaurants ever chance I got. I hated the cafeteria food and ate out for every meal that I could. I also started to eat a lot more unhealthy foods, like chips, ice cream, cookies and cake. I started to realize how much unhealthy foods I was eating and how unhappy that I was.
I noticed that I did not have as much energy as I used to and that I stopped working out and taking care of myself. It got to the point where I decided that I needed to make changes so that I would be happy with myself and my body. So, one day, I went through my pantry and threw out all of the unhealthy foods, and embarked on my healthy lifestyle journey. If you are struggling to put down the potato chips in exchange for a salad, here is my guide on how to start eating healthy and living a healthier lifestyle!
Disclaimer: I still go eat out at restaurants all the time. I love to treat myself with my favorite desserts, drinks and smoothies. I always eat chips and salsa with my Mexican food and love a good home cooked biscuit with dinner. I learned that all of these foods are good in moderation, as long as I mix in some healthy foods and workout, to balance it all out.
1. Take the time to read the food labels
I took a nutrition class last semester and learned the importance of reading food labels. At first I thought it was such a hassle to read the food labels and granted, I didn’t want to face how bad the foods I ate were for me. Once I started taking the time to read food labels, I learned to compare similar food products to figure out which brand is the healthiest for me to eat. It is also important to read the food labels if you have any allergies or dietary issues to avoid buying certain food products.
2. Try new healthy foods to figure out what you like/don’t like
We all have different taste buds so it’s important that you try out different foods and figure out what you like and don’t like. Go to your local farmer’s market and ask for a few samples of some fruits and veggies that you have never tried before and see what you think. You can also go on Pinterest and look up different types of healthy food suggestions and recipes to try. Don’t waste your money on foods you know you won’t like because it won’t be worth it!
3. Eat protein with every meal
It’s really important that we give our bodies the protein that it needs in order to function properly. It’s always a good idea to switch up the type of proteins you eat so that you don’t get tired of eating the same foods everyday. Some common proteins include: chicken, beef, eggs, fish, dairy products, and beans. My favorite proteins are chicken, eggs and beans. I usually eat eggs for breakfast with a piece of whole grain toast and some fruit, while for lunch I’ll have a nice green salad with some grilled chicken and veggies. Dinner usually varies with me, but I always have a nice piece of protein with my meal.
4. Find the ‘good’ carbs
We all love carbs and can’t go a day without eating them (unless we have to!). There is a distinct difference between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ carbs, and for many of us, we only eat the ‘bad’ carbs. Some suggestions of ‘good’ carbs include: fresh fruits and veggies, brown rice, quinoa, whole grains, beans, sweet potatoes, nuts, almonds, and potatoes. It’s important that we eat ‘good’ carbs because they are high in fiber, contain natural sugars, and help give our bodies more energy. For me, I usually get my carb intake from the fruits, veggies and whole grains that I eat. I love to have whole grain toast, Cheerios, and whole grain pasta, along with my favorite fruits and veggies each day.
5. Limit how many grams of fat you eat per day
Besides carbs, we all love to eat all those fatty foods! From cakes, to cupcakes, ice cream, cookies and more, we love to fill out bodies with these sugary treats. I always struggled with limiting the amount of fats I eat each day, but I slowly started to take away the ‘bad’ fats and replace them with ‘good’ fats. Dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese, along with nuts and beans are all examples of ‘good’ fats, and are probably foods that you eat much more than you think. Instead of eating 2 cookies a day, eat 1 cookie and a handful of nuts or some yogurt to balance it out!
6. Eat your vitamins
It’s important to eat your daily vitamins because they help your body with chemical reactions. The vitamins that your body needs come from the foods you eat, so make sure you are eating enough foods that will provide vitamins to your body. You can get vitamins from eating fruits and veggies, fish, and other proteins products.
7. Realize the importance of drinking water all day, everyday!
Our bodies are made up of 55-65% water and needs water in order to stay hydrated. Along with drinking plenty of water each day, you can also eat fruits and veggies. I suggest you buy a Hydroflask or Yeti and carry it with you everywhere you go. You can easily refill your bottle with water and keep track of how much water you are drinking each day.
8. Replace sweet potatoes for regular potatoes
I get it, we all love our french fries, hash browns and tater tots, but sometimes these potato products are too much. Instead of always eating potatoes, switch it out for a sweet potato. I know it will take awhile to get used to, but just dip it in some ketchup and you’ll barely be able to tell the difference. My favorite is to grill some sweet potatoes and mix it with asparagus, and a chicken breast on the side. It makes for a delicious dinner and has you eating healthy!
9. Eat fruits and veggies everyday to keep the doctor away!
My rule of thumb is to eat a fruit and veggie with breakfast, lunch and dinner. I like to make salads for lunch and dinner and fruit salads for my desserts after each meal. You can get super creative with the salads by using different types of lettuce, spinach, veggies and toppings. My go-to salads are: spinach with walnuts and strawberries, or arugula with carrots, bell peppers and sliced almonds. I also love to make fruit salads with blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and bananas, with some granola on top. This will definitely help you with eating healthy!
10. Don’t stress yourself out about eating healthy 24/7
There are going to be days when you eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or times when you eat 3 different desserts in one day. But hey, that is okay! We are not perfect and we will never have a perfect, healthy diet. I used to stress myself out about how much sugar I was eating or how many carbs I would eat a day, but I learned that as long as I am working out, taking care of my body, and not eating too many unhealthy foods, then it really doesn’t matter. I told myself that I would rather be happy and treat myself with my favorite foods then always stress about what I’m eating, and I hope you do the same, too! 🙂 This is one of the most important eating healthy tips!