healthy eating tips

12 Healthy Eating Habits You Can Use For Life

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The foods that you eat have a huge impact on your overall health and well being [1]. It’s important to choose foods that will nourish your body and provide it with the fuel that it needs.

Of course, eating a healthy diet is easier said than done.

If you’ve struggled with nutrition in the past, you’ll want to work to develop healthier habits. These simple tips should get you off to a great start.

1. Fill Your Plates With Fruits And Vegetables

a table full of fruits and vegetables

Both fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients [2], but they’re also low in calories. This means that a large portion of the food on your plate should be either a fruit or a vegetable. Try to avoid eating starchy vegetables, like potatoes, too frequently.

Dark leafy greens or antioxidant-rich berries will provide you with more nutrition.

If you frequently feel hungry after eating a meal, filling up on fruits and vegetables is a smart option. If you pair these foods with a protein, you’ll be able to fill yourself up without overeating.

2. Not All Fats Are Bad

a woman holds an avocado sliced in half

A few decades ago, low-fat diets were all the rage.

However, healthy fats should be an important part of your diet [3]. If your body isn’t getting the fats that it needs from your diet, it will store fat, which will make it harder for you to lose weight.

Of course, it’s important to eat the right kinds of fats. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly healthy; they can actually reduce the risk of heart disease.

Oily fish, like salmon, and avocado are both excellent sources of these fats.

3. Reduce Your Sugar Intake

a pile of sugar

Sugar might taste great, but it isn’t good for your health [4]. Eating sugar can actually increase the food cravings that you experience. If you’re able to cut sugar from your diet, you’ll find that it’s much easier for you to eat reasonable portions.

Of course, cutting back on your sugar intake will require you to do more than simply reducing the number of sweets that you eat. You’ll also want to take a look at the labels of a lot of the processed foods that you eat.

Because sugar is a natural preservative, you’ll find it in many foods, even ones that aren’t sweet.

4. Find Ways To Cook At Home

a woman cooks a meal at home

Cooking your own meals certainly isn’t easy.

If you work long hours, it’s likely that the last thing you’ll want to do when you get home is spend time in the kitchen.

With that said, cooking your own meals is one of the easiest and most effective ways for you to change your diet for the better [5].

When you cook your own meals, you’ll have a lot more control over what you eat. You won’t be surprised by foods that are loaded with unhealthy ingredients. You’ll know what is in the meals that you’re making.

When you cook yourself, you may also find that it’s easier for you to control portion sizes.

Slow cookers and devices like the instant pot are a terrific way to cook great-tasting food when you don’t have a lot of extra time. Meal prepping is also a popular option.

You can prepare all of your meals for the week on your day off and have that food ready to eat later on.

5. Watch Your Sodium Intake

a bowl of salt

Salt is an excellent way to flavor your food, but it’s easy to have too much of a good thing. High quantities of salt can raise your blood pressure and cause other health problems as well [6].

According to the American Heart Association, it’s best to keep your sodium intake under 2,300 milligrams per day.

If you’re not sure how much salt you’re eating, you may want to use a nutrition tracking tool. That way, you can see if you need to cut the salt from your diet.

6. Stay Hydrated

a glass of water

Staying properly hydrated is absolutely essential to your health [7]. Adults should be drinking between six and eight glasses of water each day.

While you may be tempted to reach for other drinks, such as juice or soda, you’ll want to cut back on them if you can.

Both juice and soda are loaded with sugar and calories. They’re not a great source of nutrients, which means they’ll essentially be “empty” calories. You’ll be much better off if you get the calories you need from food.

While diet soda is an option, studies have shown that it can increase your cravings for carbs and sugar. You don’t have to drop your soda habit completely, but it is something that you should try to enjoy in moderation.

7. Smart Snacking

a woman holds an apple

Do you frequently find that you overeat when you sit down for a meal? It’s easy to eat too much when you have food in front of you, especially when you’re hungry. It can take your brain a while to realize that your body is full.

You may be able to fix this problem if you keep yourself from getting too hungry in the first place.

If you start snacking on healthy, high-nutrient foods, like nuts, you’ll be able to nourish your body and eat smaller portions when you sit down for meals [8].

Nuts are a terrific source of healthy fat, and they’re also high in magnesium and fiber.

8. Don’t Feel Obligated to Kick Your Coffee Habit

a cup of coffee

If you drink a cup of coffee when you wake up in the morning, you shouldn’t necessarily feel like you have to give it up.

A lot of studies have actually shown that coffee can be very healthy for you [9]. This is especially true if you drink your coffee black; it’s calorie-free and doesn’t contain harmful ingredients.

Coffee is actually high in antioxidants and other nutrients. In addition, there are studies that have shown that coffee can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Coffee is also much healthier than energy drinks and caffeinated soda. You shouldn’t chug coffee all day long, but there’s nothing wrong with having a mug of coffee in the morning.

9. Gut Health Matters

yogurt has been reported to help with gut health

If you want a healthy digestive system, you need to make sure that you’re keeping the bacteria in your gut balanced [10]. You won’t want to get rid of these bacteria; bacteria play an important role in your digestive health.

It’s a wise idea to add probiotics to your diet. These live bacteria can do a lot to settle your stomach. Yogurt is typically packed with probiotics, and you’ll find them in foods like sauerkraut as well.

Adding more fiber to your diet can also do a lot to improve your digestive health. Fiber is essentially fuel for the bacteria in your gut, and you can find it in foods like lentils, artichokes, and apples.

10. Consider Adding Supplements to Your Diet

a jar of vitamins

You should try to get most of your nutrition from the foods that you eat. However, it can be difficult to get enough of certain nutrients from food alone. For example, most people that live in colder climates have a vitamin D deficiency.

If you start taking supplements, you may be able to correct some of these deficiencies and ensure that your body has more of what it needs [11].

If you are going to be taking vitamins, you should make sure that you take them along with your meals. Doing this will make it easier for your body to digest the supplements that you’re using.

11. Get the Right Amount of Protein

an english breakfast

If you don’t have enough protein in your diet, you may find yourself feeling tired and sluggish throughout the day. A lack of protein may also leave you feeling hungry between meals, which can lead to overeating. That’s why you’ll want to make sure you eat a diet that is high in protein.

While meat and seafood obviously contains plenty of protein, there are lots of other options you can explore as well. Beans and lentils are packed with protein, and you can also get protein from foods like quinoa and eggs.

Make sure you’re getting the right amount of protein from every meal that you eat [12].

12. Find Healthy Substitutions

A lot of people feel like they have to give up their favorite foods in order to eat a healthy diet. However, this doesn’t have to be the case [13].

If you’re able to substitute unhealthy ingredients for healthy ones, you’ll be able to transform certain meals into healthy dishes.

For example, instead of using butter when you cook, why not try using extra virgin olive oil? Instead of sweetening something with sugar, you could try using agave.

There are plenty of healthy substitutions out there, especially if you’re willing to get creative when you cook.

In Conclusion

Stay away from fads and crash diets. Instead, focus on developing healthy habits that will have a positive impact on your daily life. At first, these suggestions might seem like a big adjustment.

However, you’ll eventually get used to eating a healthier diet.

Soon, you’ll find yourself filling your plate with healthy foods every time you sit down to eat.

Citations

  1. Importance of Good Nutrition, U.S Department of Health & Human Services. Found at https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/eat-healthy/importance-of-good-nutrition/index.html
  2. Vegetables and Fruits, The Nutrition Source, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Found at https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/eat-healthy/importance-of-good-nutrition/index.html
  3. Kris Gunnars, BSc, 10 High-Fat Foods That Are Actually Super Healthy, HealthLine. Found at https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-super-healthy-high-fat-foods
  4. Aaron Kandola, 5 reasons why sugar is bad for you, MedicalNewsToday. Found at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324854.php
  5. Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Rani Polak, MD, Chef, MBA, Home cooking: Good for your health, Harvard Medical School. Found at https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/home-cooking-good-for-your-health-2018081514449
  6. Matt McMillen, Excess Salt May Hurt Your Brain Too, WebMD. Found at https://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20180129/excess-salt-may-hurt-your-brain-too
  7. Hydration: Why It’s So Important, Family Doctor. Found at https://familydoctor.org/hydration-why-its-so-important/
  8. Monica Reinagel, Can You Lose Weight by Eating More Often? Scientific American. Found at https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-you-lose-weight-by-eating-more-often/
  9. Donald Hensrud, M.D., Does coffee offer health benefits? Mayo Clinic. Found at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/coffee-and-health/faq-20058339
  10. Leigh Matthews, Balancing Both Good & Bad Bacteria for Gut Health, Natural Factors USA. Found at https://naturalfactors.com/en-us/articles/balancing-both-good-bad-bacteria-for-gut-health/
  11. Vitamin Supplements: Hype or Help for Healthy Eating, American Heart Association. Found at https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/vitamin-supplements-hype-or-help-for-healthy-eating
  12. Aviva Patz, This Is How Much Protein You Really Need to Eat in a Day, Health. Found at https://www.health.com/nutrition/how-much-protein-per-day
  13. 67 Healthy Recipe Substitutions, Greatist. Found at https://greatist.com/health/83-healthy-recipe-substitutions