The main thing is to start. So, in fact, we can say about any business, and the transition to a healthy diet is no exception. It will not be possible to make this transition in one day: today, you are an adorer of everything fatty and fried, and tomorrow you are an adherent of healthy eating. We need gradualism. Nutritionist Josh Bow tells about the first steps of how to start eating healthy.
How to Start Eating Healthy
Let me quote the updated 2020-2025 Nutritional Guidelines for Americans: “It’s never too late to start and maintain a healthy eating pattern that delivers health benefits both in the short term and cumulatively for years to come.“
So, where, in my opinion, you can start – smoothly, without turning life upside down “from the new year” or “on Monday.” Emphasis on health benefits, but also ricocheted towards lowering calories.
Tip 1. Moderation is the head of everything
This applies to absolutely everything, even the most healthy, nutrient-rich foods—control serving sizes.
Separately about sweets, fast food, and alcohol. If you eat any of this regularly and a lot, do not give up abruptly and forever (it will not work)! Learn to reduce the frequency and amount of use. If earlier you drank 0.5 liters of beer every day, then 0.33 liters every other day is movement in the right direction.
An example of reducing added sugars. Replace the blueberry-flavored yogurt with plain yogurt, but add 1/3 cup of blueberries to it. By doing this simple change, you get sweetness and carbohydrates that don’t count towards the added sugars, and the bonus is some fiber, more vitamins, and minerals.
Do you drink lattes/cappuccinos and other high-calorie drinks every day? Leave 1 serving and replace the second with sugar-free coffee. Sugary sodas can be cut in half and replaced with zero-calorie drinks like Zero (no added sugar).
Tip 2. Focus on vegetables
Set a rule for yourself – at each main meal, eat a portion of vegetables 100-120 g. Gradually reach 3-4 servings a day. Vegetables can replace part of the side dish in meals, as well as eat vegetables for a snack.
If you are currently eating 1 serving a day, do not add 2-3 servings right away. Otherwise, the intestines will rebel. Add 1 serving every 1-2 weeks until you reach 4 servings per day. Along with this, it is recommended to drink more water (but without fanaticism).
Tip 3. Variety
When choosing fruits and vegetables, remember the principle of the rainbow in nutrition – buy yellow, red, orange, green, purple … and all the shades of these colors. Don’t eat just bananas or only apples every day.
Tip on how to start eating healthy #4. Attention to snacks
For a snack, try to have a few “quick” options: a handful of nuts/plain yogurt/a small fruit + a serving of fresh vegetables. This will help you cope with hunger, get nutrients (+ “close” a serving of vegetables and get fiber) while not eating a lot of calories and reducing the amount of added sugars.
If you have a must-have candy ritual in your snack, limit yourself to one. It’s better than two or three.
Tip 5. Replace peeled with whole grains
Peeled are primarily white rice, soft wheat pasta, and all kinds of sweet instant cereals. Whole grains:
- wild/brown rice,
- pearl barley,
- durum pasta.
Whole grains are more vitamins, minerals, fiber, and more satiety compared to refined grains.
The easiest way to use it in practice is that half of the cereals consumed per day MUST be obtained from whole grains, for example, for breakfast – pita bread, for lunch cereals.
Tip 6. Less red meat – more fish and legumes
Pork, beef, veal … if there is a lot of it (eat every day or most of the week), and fish and legumes are scarce. I recommend replacing some of the red meat with fish and legumes. This will reduce your intake of saturated fat, increase your fiber intake (thanks to the legumes), and provide an alternative source of protein from both animal and plant sources. And if instead of a portion of red meat, you eat a portion of fatty fish, you get a significant bonus in the form of omega-3.
This way. The less processed red meat (sausages, etc.) in your grocery basket, the better. If you buy these products every time now, then buying them every second grocery purchase is a good start.
Don’t eat processed meat? Great, better not to start. Just like alcohol.
Tip on how to start eating healthy #7. Fry less
Do you fry every day or most of the days of the week? Try to fry three days a week for a start, and on other days, at least bake with a minimum of oil. Aim to reduce the amount of fried food to a minimum GRADUALLY.
Tip 8. Minimize industrial trans fats
If you ask me what needs to be kept to the absolute minimum in nutrition, I will not hesitate to answer: alcohol and industrial trans fats. Artificial trans fats “beat” the lipid profile (affect the amount of cholesterol), increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. They have also been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
In foods, trans fats are listed as “partially hydrogenated fat.” This is exactly what needs to be reduced to a minimum. Fast food, frozen pizza, donuts, cookies, crackers, tarts, and other baked goods are top sources. Read labels. If the composition contains “partially hydrogenated fat,” then it is better not to buy.
Keep in mind that margarine is also a source of trans fat. Therefore, if you are fond of homemade baking on margarine and every time you mentally say: “Why shop, I’d better bake homemade, “… you know what I mean. Alternative – recipes without margarine.
I hope that soon we will also have a ban on the use of industrial trans fats just like how the Canadian government did it, for example.
Tip 9. Plan purchases
Planning helps to “shock” the inner Dunno and buy something that will really benefit and bring saturation. For example, my shopping set of products for a few days in advance includes:
- fresh vegetables (necessarily green leafy), frozen vegetables, fruits;
- chicken eggs;
- chicken/turkey fillet or lean fish, rarely veal/beef/pork without visible fat;
- 1 pack per week (250g) – lightly salted trout/salmon;
- hard cheese, cottage cheese, high-protein yogurt without additives;
- whole-grain cereals and bread;
- olives in glass, canned corn, beans, nuts.
Key Takeaway on How to Start Eating Healthy
Got the main message? The key is to reduce portion sizes, choose healthier options from the same food group, make smarter snack choices, and minimize what has a strong negative health effect. The goal is to find a balance, a compromise. This is the essence of SMOOTH changes in eating habits.
Don’t try to start “perfect.” As soon as you are about to start “perfectly,” you have already lost. Our body is like a casino, and the casino always wins. The harder you tightened the nuts at the very beginning, the harder you will be hit by the boomerang of “ideality” that you yourself launched. Remember that a “perfect” start can be an early finish. Smooth and phased changes – that’s it!
We got 9 recommendations, but it is not necessary to apply them all at once! Choose the easiest ones for yourself and start putting them into practice. Then gradually add 1-2 recommendations.
More about this topic:
- 10 Simple Ways To Start Eating Healthier This Year – Forbes
- Healthy Sugar Alternatives: Top 8 Products
- Is Saturated Fat Bad? + Saturated Fat Foods List
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