Welcome again to this healthy eating for beginners series. Today we’re going to cover my favourite tips to make your healthy eating journey easier and way more enjoyable. This is the second part of the “beginners’ guide to healthy eating” and you can find the other posts/videos right here:
Part 1: Nutrition 101 ~ beginners’ guide to healthy eating
Part 3: Healthy Mindset for Healthy Eating (coming up in April)
Part 4: What I Have In My Plant-based Kitchen (coming up in April)
If you’re more of a visual learner, here’s the video for this post!
Create bridges to success
Now that you already know which foods are healthful and which foods you should eat less often, we have to find ways to eat more of what’s really good and less of what’s not so good. So we want to create bridges to success — and with this I mean: make your good choices easier, way easier.
For example – having your lunch prepped in advance ensures that you eat a balanced and healthy meal instead of… something quick and maybe not so nourishing. Yet another tip is to display healthy foods in a visible place, like your countertop, so you’re more prone to eat them.
And if you feel that it’s harder for you to make good choices when you’re hungry, try to eat a little bit sooner (so you don’t feel as hungry) or eat a little bit more in your previous meal. I have another post where I dive deep into the hunger topic if you’d like to check it!
Start by adding
No one wants to restrict, and just the idea of restricting makes your body crave “the things you want to avoid”. And this is one of the reasons why so many diets fail… Instead of focusing on restricting the foods you want to avoid, turn things the other way around and focus on adding the things that do and make you feel good…
The more nourishing foods you eat, the better you’ll feel, the more satiated you’ll be and the fewer cravings you’ll probably have. Nourish yourself with so many good foods that you don’t even think about the foods you can’t eat.
So if you find yourself craving something, think about what other food could you be eating that would give you de same sensations, like crunch, salty flavour, or sweet flavour, and nourish you more. For example, if you’re craving chips, you probably crave the crunch and saltiness. Maybe you could pop some popcorns and add lots of herbs and spices and a little bit of salt. Would it be enough to satisfy your craving? If yes, great, if not, maybe go ahead and have the chips, but really enjoy the portion you’re going to have mindfully, without mindlessly overeating.
A big part of the success of your healthy journey is the way you snack. Eating healthy during the main meals isn’t that difficult (or at least, overall, my clients don’t think so), but when choosing what to snack it’s so easy to go for the chips and cookies and popcorns… So the best thing to do is to have your snacks ready to go and always with you. It’s a no-brainer, you’ll eat what’s on hand, and if those are nourishing foods, great!
So leave healthy snacks like fruits, nuts, yoghurt, hummus with veggie sticks near you, or on a visible place and hide everything else. Once you see those healthy foods, it’s so easier to grab them without even having to make the choice.
Supplements? Organic? GMOs? Intermittent fasting? Carb cycling? Food combining? You really don’t need all of this. At least not in the beginning. Keep it simple, you’ll be amazed at how consistent basic habits work in the long run. Honestly and from my experience, I would say that doing the basic equals 95% of your results…
If you cannot follow this strategy or that diet in two or three years then it is most likely not for you. Let’s forget about crazy diets that we can’t (and shouldn’t) maintain in the long run and focus on creating healthy long-term habits. For example, eliminating some foods altogether may actually increase cravings for them! Or starting to eat certain foods, often very expensive, just because they are “super foods”, but which we don’t particularly like, does not guarantee long-term success.
Try new flavors
I know healthy eating may seem difficult at first, but with some creativity and preparation, it doesn’t have to be. Make a commitment to try one or two new nutritious foods a week. For example, when you go to a restaurant, take the opportunity to try a dish completely outside your comfort zone – and believe me, if it’s on the menu, it’s probably delicious.
Try to try a new dish every week and if you like it, perfect it and make it one of your recurrent “house dishes”. Let’s be honest, we don’t make completely different meals every day, so you just have to look long enough for a handful of nutritious recipes that you really enjoy that you can have on rotation every week, and over time add more and more options!
Swap it out
When you make your shopping list each week, select one or two items to realistically switch with healthier items. For example, if you need to buy cereals this week, try and substitute them with a healthier counterpart with less added sugars, a higher content in whole-grains, and less fat and salt. If you are out of white rice, choose a package of brown rice instead. Instead of buying a tube of ice cream try freezing some bananas and make a nice-cream, by blending frozen fruits. The transition to a healthier diet doesn’t have to be difficult or happen overnight. Or it could, if you know that works best for you! But I find that small steps really add up over time, and can make your transition to a healthier diet way more sustainable in the long run.
Balance it out
One of the suggestions I consider the most important is trying to balance your meals, combining two or more macronutrients in each meal, to give you a more sustained stream of energy until your next meal. Of course, you don’t have to do this one hundred per cent of the time, but if you can, try to combine two or more macronutrients in one meal so you kind of ensure that you ingest a nice balance of all the macronutrients throughout the day.
For example, you could combine fruit with nuts, which means you will be having carbs, with fat and a little bit of protein. Or you could have a latte with a toast with homemade hazelnut spread and in this case, you would have all of the nutrients combined – fat, carbs and protein. Or even, a protein powder smoothie, with an oatmeal muffin, so you have both protein and complex carbs.
And finally, you probably already know but it’s never too much to highlight that planning ahead is one of the best things you can do when trying to change habits, healthy habits or not. And you have many options, with more or less effort. Before going shopping you could pick up some new nourishing recipes you’d like to try and buy the fresh and whole ingredients featured in the recipes. You could make a shopping list full of veggies and fruits and whole grains, etc… and stick to the list, trying to avoid the tempting aisles of the foods you want to eat less often. You could do some meal prep. You don’t have to go all-in and prepare full meals right away, but you could prepare some elements in advance, like roasted veggies, roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes, cook some quinoa, and make a batch of hummus, for example, so you can have different elements to combine throughout the week. This way you can mix and match the ingredients without getting stuck to meals that then you might not feel like eating.
Hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and tricks and that they help you eat healthy in an easy, sustainable and enjoyable way! In the next post & video, we’ll talk everything about the healthy mindset to eat healthily, but meanwhile, you can dive deep into other articles I’ve shared on the blog:
- 20 Nutrition Hacks That Will Simplify Your Life
- Improve Your Relationship With Food ~ with a cheat sheet and video
- 10 Nutrition Myths Debunked
- 10 Ways to Improve Your Energy Without Coffee