10 Healthy Eating Habits That Will Change Your Life. Change your eating, change your life. Nutrition experts dole out a ton of advice about how to eat well—and, most importantly, not lose your mind doing it.
But some tips stand the test of time, and that experts themselves follow. (Because yes, they are human, too.) Here are ten habits they live by—and that will change the way you eat.
Don’t give anything up
Eat all the foods you enjoy—but the key is to do it in smaller quantities. In fact, it’s the number one change I made that’s helped me maintain my weight loss. I didn’t want to feel deprived as I had in previous attempts to lose weight. The worst thing you can do is be too strict, then rebound by overeating because you’re not satisfied.
Always have a plan for Healthy Eating Habits
It’s easy to get sucked into the lure of the restaurant menu when you’re hungry, and everything looks good. You don’t have to order the plainly grilled chicken breast with steamed veggies—that would be boring. Order what you’d like, but balance the meal out with the rest of the day.
If you know you’re going out for a steak and potatoes dinner, go easy on the meat and starch at lunch. Make sure you also fit in good fares like whole grains, fruit, veggies, and nuts and seeds in the other meals and snacks that day. That way a hunk of steak won’t derail your diet, and you’ll leave happy.
Forget calorie counting
Ditching the habit and instead focus on good-for-you foods. Instead of how many calories, ask yourself where the food came from and if it’s nutritious. Healthy, nutrient-rich foods will keep hunger at bay, help maintain stable blood sugar levels, minimize cravings, and help your brain signal your belly when you’re full. In other words, you don’t have to go through all the trouble of counting.
Don’t eat boring food
Nutritionists are always saying to eat more vegetables, so cook them in a way that takes them from ho-hum to yum. I even think that steamed veggies can be very dull! Always incorporate high-flavor add-ons to jazz up veggies, like sautéing with olive oil and garlic, or spraying them with olive oil before throwing them in an oven with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
That way, you don’t equate “healthy” with “tasteless,” a mindset that will knock you off the veggie bandwagon fast. Another tip: buy a spiralizer and make zucchini noodles. Topped off with a creamy tomato sauce, you’ll feel like you’re eating pasta.
Prep and store for Healthy Eating Habits
Even more important than shopping for healthy foods: actually, eating them. When you get home from the store or farmer’s market, bounty of fruits and veggies in tow, wash and chop them right away and store in a pretty glass container in your fridge. Studies show that spending more time on food prep is linked to better eating habits.
It’s all about convenience—if they’re ready for you, you’ll grab them in a pinch. If not? It’s chips and dip time. You can also do this with other foods, like making a batch of quinoa for the week or roasting a bunch of veggies to throw together for quick lunches.
Eat lunch like a king
You’ve heard that breakfast should be the most significant meal of your day, but you may not be that hungry when you wake up. In fact, your biggest meal should be around noon when your digestion is at its peak, and you can feed your body when it needs fuel. That means you don’t need a huge meal for dinner only to sit and catch up on your favorite TV show and then go to bed.
But “big” doesn’t mean burger and fry big. At lunch, emphasize protein and greens, like a hearty bowl of lentil soup and kale salad. Another bonus: after dinner, you won’t have the feeling you need to unbutton your pants.
Drop the food guilt
It’s trendy to think “food should be fuel” or that food is something that helps you lose (or, ahem, gain) weight. But considering only regarding number on the scale takes away a considerable part of what eating is about: pleasure. It’s true: feeling guilty about your food choices can undermine weight loss—and even pack on the pounds—while a celebratory mindset gives you more control over your diet and can thwart weight gain, found a 2014 study in the journal Appetite.
Eat the rainbow for Healthy Eating Habits
Greens, oranges, reds, purples, yellows you get the picture. Eating the rainbow will supply your body with a range of disease-fighting phytonutrients, and will naturally fill you up to help you cut back on unhealthy foods. Plus, most adults struggle with getting the recommended five servings a day.
A worldwide study in 2014 found 58 to 88% of adults don’t hit that mark. Aiming for a different intake of produce from all colors of the rainbow will help you boost your intake. In another 2012 study, adults who were offered a variety of vegetables ate more of them without increasing the calories at the meal.
Know where your snacks are
Sure, you don’t know what you’ll be in the mood for later, and will you even be hungry? Yes, probably. After all, increased snacking is one reason behind the rise in calorie intake over the past few decades, according to a 2011 study in PLOS ONE.
When you leave your office to find something, that’s when you make bad choices. That’s when a hot pretzel, a bag of candy, or donut can look very appealing. Make sure you have an emergency stash of snacks, like Greek yogurt, individual packs of nuts, dried fruit, and nitrate-free jerky.
Follow the 80/20 rule…kind of
There are two ways you can think about 80/20 eating. One: eat healthy 80% of the time and save 20% for splurges. That’s great because it stresses how consumption is not about perfection, and as I mentioned earlier, how it could be pleasurable, too. However, what does that look like? That might mean having a 150-calorie treat daily or saving it all up for a big meal out on the weekend. Make it work for you rather than stressing out about percentages.
Another spin on the 80/20 rule: stopping eating when you’re 80% full. That means slowing down and checking in periodically throughout the meal about what your body is telling you. Does the food no longer taste great? Are you getting that “I don’t need any more feeling”? Thinking 80/20 will help slow you down and be more mindful. Being in tune with your body prevents overeating.
Final Thought about Healthy Eating Habits
If you think of eating as something enjoyable and something you do without guilt or without judging yourself, and you stay active, you’re less likely to overeat, have a better diet, and maintain any weight loss for the long haul.
I hope you found this article helpful. If you have anything that you’d like to share or any opinions on any of the content on my site, please do speak up. I look forward to your comments, questions and the sharing of ideas.