It’s easy to say you’re going to change your diet and start eating healthier. But where do you actually begin? What’s the basic foundation for healthy eating?
It’s actually pretty simple. Just follow a few basic principles and make a few changes to your daily eating habits. The benefits are endless.
5 Basic Tips for Healthy Eating
Ready, set, eat healthy.
1. Eat lots of vegetables and fruit
This is one of the most important diet habits.
Veggies and fruit are packed with vitamins and minerals. This includes essential things your body needs to function, including vitamins A, C and E, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous and folic acid. They’re also low in fat, salt and sugar and are a good source of dietary fibre.
Together, these nutrients deliver a ton of health benefits:
- Lower your cholesterol
- Lower your blood pressure
- Reduce your risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease
- Protect against free radicals (many have antioxidant properties)
They also help you maintain a healthy weight by keeping you full longer.
Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit at every meal and snack.
2. Choose whole grains
Whole grain foods include things like whole grain bread, brown rice, and quinoa. They’re called whole grains because they’re prepared using the entire grain.
Whole grain foods have fibre, protein and B vitamins to help you stay healthy and feel full longer. Adding them to your diet helps reduce the risk of digestive disorders, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers.
Go with whole grain options instead of processed or refined grains like white bread and pasta. Refined grains like these contain only part of the grain and lose up to 80% of their nutrients after the refining process.
When looking for whole grains, look for “100% whole grain” or “whole wheat.”
Avoid ones labeled:
- 100% wheat
- Cracked wheat
- Whole bran
- #-grain ie. 7-grain, 9-grain, 12-grain
These are often made mostly of refined grain.
3. Pack in the Protein
Protein is crucial to healthy eating. It’s an important component of every cell in the body.
Protein is an important building block of muscles, bones, cartilage, skin, and even blood. Eating protein helps you:
- Build and repair tissue
- Produce enzymes, hormones, and other essential body chemicals
- Increase muscle mass and strength
- Feel fuller, longer
- Lower blood pressure
To up your protein intake, incorporate more of these into your diet:
- Lean red meats and poultry
- Nuts and seeds
- Lower fat dairy (milk, yogurts, kefir, and cheese)
4. Skip the processed foods
A processed food is basically any food that’s been altered in some way during preparation. That includes everything from potato chips to canned soup to microwave dinners.
Why are processed foods a no-go (well, most of them at least)? It’s because of what manufacturers add during the process. Ingredients like salt, sugar, oil, and fat are sometimes put in to make them more flavorful. Preservatives are also added to increase shelf life.
Instead, try to go with fresh, whole foods whenever you can. Make your meals at home using fresh ingredients. This is also better for the environment (less packaging + less waste).
5. Watch when and how much you eat
This is key. It isn’t just what you eat that’s important. When you eat and how much you’re eating is important too.
If you wait too long between meals, you might be tempted to reach for something easy to snack on (ahem, those processed foods from #4). So, eat your regular meals, and keep healthy snacks (like a piece of fruit) on hand for when hunger strikes.
As for those regular meals, watch portion sizes. It takes your brain a little time to register when you’re full. By the time you fill your plate and eat it all, you probably ate way more than you needed to. Go for smaller servings. Use a smaller dinner plate. Take your time enjoying your food. When you start to feel full, stop eating!
Here’s to Healthy Eating
Healthy eating is so important for your overall health. Luckily, once you have a basic foundation, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Just follow this 5 tips and you’ll be well on your way to eating healthier every day.