If you’re thinking about losing weight or just starting a healthy diet for other reasons, it may seem like a daunting task at first.
There’s the expert advice that encourages you to incorporate a healthy diet and an exercise regimen to make this dream come true.
But that is easier said, than done. For one, finding time to exercise is a task in itself. People are so busy these days, they barely have time to eat, let alone work out.
Eating healthy presents its own challenges separate from exercising. There’s not only the question of what to eat, but when to eat it, and how much.
In a world with ever-changing “fad foods,” it can be tricky to navigate healthy eating. Which makes it tougher to stick to a healthy regiment.
Distasteful “health” food and complicated, exhausting exercises can all be deterrents to leading a healthy lifestyle.
Fun fact, nearly 50 percent of Americans believe doing their taxes is easier than eating healthy. That says a lot about the task of consciously leading a healthy lifestyle.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. With fortitude, planning, and dedication, you can begin leading a healthier lifestyle.
Here a few tips for beginning a healthy diet and sticking with that plan.
Change Your Mindset
Many people have misconceptions about leading a healthy lifestyle. People think healthy eating includes bland and uninspiring foods or taking part in fad diets that don’t do much for them in the long-term.
Healthy eating, not an all or nothing game. Just because you may have spoiled your diet by eating a few unhealthy snacks, don’t think the day is ruined and proceed to gorge on anything and everything.
Instead, chose healthy foods, or add a few extra minutes to your workout routine. Having a black and white mindset when it comes to a healthy diet will only discourage you more than help you.
Even more unsettlingly, people believe that exercise means having unrealistic fitness goals, like 6-pack abs, or unnatural thigh gaps.
This is not the case at all. In fact, experts suggest just the opposite. Eating healthy should be a varied and rewarding exercise. Food doesn’t have to be boring or unimaginative.
Further, if you exercise, keep your routines varied and fun. When you become bored with exercise is when it starts to feel like a chore.
This leads to people not feeling very inspired about being active and staying healthy.
The best way to combat any of this fatigue is to make both your eating choices and exercises a fun activity that is a natural part of your life.
It’s incredibly important to establish this routine if you’re going to be successful in your health conscious goals.
Create a Healthy Eating Plan
Creating a healthy eating plan isn’t difficult. It’s sticking to it that might be, but if you learn about the right foods to eat, this shouldn’t be such a daunting task. It’s getting started that’s the problem.
Many people make the mistake of diving right into a “diet,” cutting out their favorite foods drastically, and stocking their pantries with “healthy” choices, that they start to resent quickly.
Transitioning to a healthy diet is just like any other transition and should be done gradually. Slowly begin by weaning yourself off some of your most favorite “bad” foods. Begin by replacing these foods one-by-one with healthier alternatives.
When crafting your healthy eating plan, set realistic goals that you can stick to. This way you don’t feel discouraged or disappointed if you should happen to fall short of your goals.
Studies have shown even losing small amounts of weight can help you feel better, and improve your health, so don’t try to do too much at one time, or else you might be setting yourself up for failure.
The best way to keep track of your accomplishments is by tracking your meal. When you track your meals, it’s a great way to keep you motivated, and even change your eating plan for the future.
Experts suggest that changing one thing each week will help you stick with your healthy eating plans. This gives you time to adjust to the new eating habits and new behaviors that will last you for a lifetime.
Choose the Right Foods
The first step to leading a healthier lifestyle is choosing the right diet. The right diet doesn’t mean the newest Atkins or Weight Watcher’s regimen but choosing foods that are healthy, filling and tastes delicious.
First, experts suggest choosing whole foods instead of processed food. Take a look at your pantry and think about all the processed packages inside.
Are they truly healthy for you? Or just the means to a disappointing meal in the end? Instead of stocking your freezer with frozen pizzas, burritos, and Stouffer’s classics, try stocking your fridge with fresh produce.
Pack your fridge full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. All of these foods are loaded with fiber, protein, vitamins and essential nutrients that your body craves.
Processed food, by contrast, are packed with empty calories, which is probably why you feel hungry even after consuming one of these “meals.”
You should commit to having veggies and fruit every day. Add these items to your lunch bag or find a way to incorporate them into tonight’s dinner.
Second, lay off all the sugary drinks. With the advent of high-fructose corn syrup, sugar is practically everywhere.
For those with a sweet tooth, that may seem like heaven on Earth, but it’s not. Sugary drinks increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, obesity, liver damage, anxiety, and cavities.
On average, Americans drink nearly 45 gallons of soda each year, that’s a lot of cavities. Most studies show that fruit juice concentrates don’t fare much better than soda.
Instead of loading up on all the sugary beverages opt for unsweetened drinks such as ice tea, or try infusing your water with fruit.
Shop for Healthy Food, Not the Other Food
Choosing the right food doesn’t just occur outside of the home. In fact, it starts within the home. While you may consciously try to eat healthy when you’re at work, or about town, choosing to bring the right food home with you is another thing.
For one, there aren’t the public pressures that may come when you order unhealthy food around health nuts, therefore you might find it easy to slip into old habits and “treat” yourself while in the grocery store.
To avoid sliding back into old habits, start creating new ones when you go shopping. Experts suggest using the “outer ring” technique.
The outer ring technique is a strategy when grocery shopping that encourages you to buy healthy foods.
Grocery food stores are designed with all the healthy fresh foods located on the outer ring of the store.
By shopping on the outer perimeter of the store you avoid all those processed food packages and frozen meal options that are buried in the center. Shopping on the outer rings ensure that you’re more likely to buy healthy foods.
Additionally, opt out of a bag of potato chips and instead go for a bag of nuts or seeds. Nuts and seeds are packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins, and healthy fats.
These are amazing snacks to keep handy. When you’re hungry you’re more than likely to grab whatever food is handily available to you.
Purchasing a bag of nuts or seeds as a handy desk snack (or at home), will keep you away from making terrible food decisions.
Smaller Portions Go The Extra Mile
Unfortunately, our society has trained us to eat more than our stomachs can handle. Food portions have gotten out of control.
In the wake of the obesity epidemic, the bigger the better simply isn’t true. Yet still, restaurants go out of their way to pile your plate up with everything in the kitchen, including the sink.
Don’t fall for this.
Eating until you feel satiated is perfectly fine, in fact, it’s the healthy thing to do. One way to do this is with plate ware.
Studies have suggested that eating on larger plates tricks the brain into thinking you haven’t eaten food.
However, the opposite effect takes place when you have a smaller plate. In fact, eating on a smaller plate can make you feel fuller quicker and ensures that you don’t overeat.
Additionally, eating smaller portions allows you to focus on what’s really important, nutrients not calories.
When attempting to lose weight, the first thing that many people tend to focus on is calories. Everyone is aiming to create a calorie deficit in order to shed the pounds.
While that is useful in weight loss, it might not be useful for long-term healthy eating habits.
Instead of worrying about calories, experts suggest focusing on nutrient content. Improving the quality of your health includes improving the quality of your diet, obviously, so choosing foods packed with nutrients is the best way to go.
Scientifically speaking, our energy intake rests solely on our ability to extract vital nutrients from whatever fuel source we’re eating.
Protein, Protein, and More Protein
A large portion of our diet consists of protein. That’s great, but not all protein is created equal. While many people will think a huge portion of red meat on their plate is the best way to go, red meat isn’t exactly the best protein for a healthy diet. Instead, focus on other sources of lean protein such as chicken and fish.
The American Heart Association recommend eating fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel at least twice a week.
Fish like salmon and mackerel are full of omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re not familiar with omega-3 fatty acids, this is a superfood that studies have proven improves brain function and heart health.
Additionally, tentative studies show that omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Chicken is another great protein to ingest. Not only is chicken a great source of lean low-fat protein, but it also contributes greatly to muscle growth and development and weight loss.
Additionally, chicken is good for the heart. Chicken breast, in particular, can control the body’s production of homocysteine amino acid levels.
If these levels reach too high, there’s a greater risk of developing heart disease.
Not only is chicken healthy and tasty, but it is also versatile and can be paired with a variety of dishes, meaning your diet doesn’t have to be relegated to tasteless bland food.
Healthy eating is a great way to lose weight, stay in shape, or just maintain a healthy body. But, you can’t deny that staying active plays an important role in a healthy lifestyle.
Regular exercise is a powerful tool, not just physically, but mentally as well. Exercise not only burns calories, but it also increases your strength, coordination, and balance.
Not to mention that exercise is an amazing way to alleviate stress, prevent injuries, and is overall great for your health.
Experts suggest starting each day out with a fitness routine. Not only will this ensure you stick with your fitness plan, but it will make you more productive throughout your entire day.
Your mood will improve, brain functioning will be sharper and more focused, and you’ll find yourself getting along with your friends and colleagues better.
In order to start a healthy eating regiment and stick with it, think about what’s really motivating you to change your lifestyle.
Whether it’s for health reasons, family, or a special occasion, think about these things and how they can help you stay committed to your health journey.
Staying healthy isn’t easy, but its far from impossible. Most people quit before they even get started, and that’s a huge obstacle.
Healthy lifestyle habits aren’t something that comes naturally, it’s a learned trait and its imperative that people learn this trait to maintain optimal health.
Realizing that it takes time to reach your health goals is also a great way to start and stick with a healthy diet.
Setting unrealistic goals will only discourage you and keep you from striving to achieve the best possible results.
Weight loss and healthy eating habits take time to develop, much like everything else in life.
If you can be patient, dedicated, and optimistic about what a healthy lifestyle looks like, then you are more than prepared for success. Good luck!