Generally speaking, most people are fairly uneducated about what it means to eat healthy. We are constantly bombarded by images of unrealistic body standards, fad diets & fast food commercials that it has become almost impossible to do so.
Because of this, many people believe that eating healthy consists of eating skimpy salads or never touching a cookie ever again. In short, many people believe that eating healthy sucks.
I’m here to tell you that this is far from the truth! I used to believe the same thing, but I knew something had to change after looking & feeling like crap all the time. I decided to take the time to really understand what my body needs & make changes to achieve those needs.
After several months, I’m doing great. Although I was never really “fat”, I lost close to 15 pounds of extra weight. I’m now in a healthier weight range & fit into my clothes better – but more importantly I look & feel better than ever before! I’m far healthier & more confident than I was.
Stop getting caught up in the wrong messages about eating so that you can actually make it work for you! Here is my best advice for eating healthier & actually enjoying it.
Be aware of your calories
We lose, gain or maintain our weight based on how many calories we consume. Nothing else matters at the end of the day, despite everyone’s obsession with other things like carbs, fat or sugar. However, many people are not aware of how many calories they really consume on a given day.
Here’s an easy challenge – don’t change anything about your diet for a week. Eat the same food & drink the same drinks you usually do. The only thing different that you need to do is count how many calories you consume each day for that week. Don’t cheat yourself when doing this. Make sure to get accurate serving sizes, as well as calories for things like drinks or condiments. Be as accurate as possible.
After a week, find a calorie calculator online that tells you how many calories you should be consuming based on your height, weight, age & level of daily activity. Here is an example, but use a few just to see how they compare.
If you’ve never done this before, the results will surprise you. I know they surprised me the first time I did it. I completely underestimated how much I was consuming because I never added it up. Doing this, even if just for a few weeks, will give you an accurate perspective on your caloric intake & motivate you to make some changes.
Eat satisfying & nutritional meals
Once you’ve found out how many calories you should be consuming per day, it’s time to build meals that will hit that daily target. The goal should be to eat at least three meals per day that will leave you satisfied until your next meal.
Something that works really well is making protein a staple of every meal. Compared to carbs or fats, protein is very dense & will leave you fuller for longer. You may have experienced this if you’ve ever had a high in protein breakfast (i.e. eggs, meat) versus a high carb breakfast (i.e. cereal, pancakes). The first will leave you satisfied until lunch while the second will make you full at first, but hungry within an hour or so.
Aside from protein, your meal should be nutritional & well balanced. Try to add fruits or vegetables to every meal, as well as a healthy mix of carbs & fats. Remember that calories are what matters at the end of the day, so play around with your meals to find out what keeps you fuller for longer, hits your caloric goals & is still enjoyable to eat.
Make water your best friend
If you’ve done the calorie counting exercise, than you will see how many calories you consume from liquids alone. Everything from coffee to juice to alcohol is dumping extra calories on your plate. In fact, some drinks could count as a small meal.
Don’t let these empty calories get to you. Water should be your go-to drink throughout the day. When I was younger, I absolutely hated drinking water. I thought it had no taste & no real benefit to me. This, of course, is an absurd line of thinking considering that our bodies are made of 70% water. Our muscles & organs desperately need water to survive.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t drink anything else, but if your body is 70% water, you should be consuming water as 70% of your daily liquids. The other 30% should be other drinks that you enjoy, but won’t kill you in calories.
Cut out bad habits that make you eat more
Whether you stress eat every time you get anxiety or can’t put down the munchies after some late night fun, everyone has habits that make them eat more than they should. However, these habits can wreck havoc on your body & your ability to eat healthy.
The easiest answer is to cut out these bad habits. Although this sounds simple, doing it will be much harder. Start small & work your way up. For example, if you notice that you eat half a pack of Oreo’s before a big test, you may want to find other coping mechanisms like listening to music or taking a quick walk outside to clear your mind. Not only will you eat healthier, but you’ll develop better self care habits along the way.
Similarly, you need to make other lifestyle changes if you catch yourself snacking too often after a night of heavy drinking or other recreational activities that give you the munchies (you know what I mean). Although it may sound like a good idea at the time, that whole Domino’s pie was not made to be eaten by one person & your body let you know the next day. An otherwise healthy diet is useless if you consume hundreds of extra calories in snacks, if not more. Count those calories & see if it’s actually worth it.
Remember to enjoy yourself!
Eating healthy doesn’t mean that you can only eat certain foods. It means that you have a balanced diet where you get your daily nutritional needs, maintain a healthy weight & get enjoyment from the food you consume.
Live a little! There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a slice of pizza or burger & fries every once in a while, or enjoying some drinks with a few friends on a Friday night. This is only a problem when you do that all the time with zero moderation.
Perhaps the most important advice you’ll see in the post is this – you need to enjoy your diet so that you’ll stick with it. Unless you’re trying to become a body builder with next to no body fat, the odds of you sticking to an extreme diet for long is slim to none.
Be aware of your calories, eat meals that leave you satisfied , drink lots of water, cut out those bad habits & enjoy yourself in the process. Keep it simple & change your life!
How are you eating healthy? What advice would you give to others who are looking to do so? Was this article helpful? Comment below & let me know what you think!