Back to the Basics
How to eat healthy is easily one of the most overwhelming questions you can ask Google. There are so many different theories and trains of thought on this topic. Everyone thinks they are right because they know what worked for them.
But you are not everyone. You are YOU. You are unique. What worked for your friend might not work for you.
Let’s talk about how you can eat healthy. What does it look like for you?
“You can change your life if you just double your daily intake of plants,” states nutritional biochemist Dr. Libby Weaver.
That’s pretty powerful!
How many plants do you eat each day? Let’s start with vegetables. As a general rule, they are people’s least favorite type of food. Think back through your day today and/or yesterday. How many types of veggies did you eat?
I’ll admit that I struggle with this. (See my post I am a Holistic Health Coach and I Hate Veggies.) I have my good days and I have my bad days. But every day, I try to increase my vegetable intake. Today was a bad day. Tomorrow will be better.
A simple goal when you are trying to eat healthier is to increase your veggies. Try to add them to every meal.
Breakfast veggies can be blended into a smoothie. They can be chopped and prepared with eggs.
Lunch is a great time for a big salad or some vegetable sticks for dipping.
Supper is traditionally the time when we eat the most vegetables. Can you start with the veggies? And then add a “side” of meat/carbs? So often we start with those two and add vegetables as almost an afterthought.
Processed food is almost always worse for you than its non-processed relative. Take peanuts for an example. The other day I wanted a crunchy snack. I had a packet of “honey roasted peanuts” laying around. Instead of grabbing my jar of “dry roasted peanuts,” I grabbed the packet.
The peanuts in the jar have one ingredient: peanuts. They are minimally processed. They are healthy.
The packet of peanuts have nine ingredients! Nine! Four of them are sugar! (Sugar, honey, corn syrup, and fructose.) While they provided the crunch I was looking for, they also provided a bunch of stuff my body did not need—things I didn’t even care about.
If you want to eat healthy, eat real food and cut out as much processed stuff as you can.
Look for real food or “clean” food.
Real food might not even have an ingredient label. (This would include most fruits and veggies in the produce section of your grocery store for example.)
Real food or clean food is rich in nutrients and is not processed or is minimally processed. It is usually low in sugar and high in fiber.
Trying to figure out if what you’re looking at in the grocery store is “real” or a deceiving “food like substance?”
- Ask yourself if it will go bad. If it can sit in your pantry for months without molding, it probably isn’t real. (Canned food has been preserved. It might be real, it might not be. See the next test.)
- Count the ingredients. If you cannot pronounce some of them or if there are more than 5, chances are, you are holding something that your great-great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
Evaluate What Will Work for You
You are you. The tastes and textures and flavors you prefer are unique to you. When, where and how you like to eat are unique to you. While the above healthy eating tips will work for virtually everyone, this area cannot be generalized.
You need to figure out what will work for you.
Hearty Breakfast or Fast?
I am not a breakfast eater. Not anymore. I used to love anything in a bowl for breakfast: cereal, granola, oatmeal, etc. Then I experienced “morning” sickness with all four of my boys. Now, I don’t want to chew anything or think about my breakfast. But if I skip it, I gain weight.
For me, smoothies and shakes are the solution. I can mix those up without much thought at all. I can drink them. And best of all, they start my day on a low-glycemic note which stops sugar cravings and helps my body process the next two meals well. (For real, a healthy breakfast can do that! See this post.)
How does your unique life impact healthy eating? How can you fit real food and more veggies into your everyday life?
Create Healthy (Fast) Snacks
Perhaps you would eat more veggies if you chop some carrots, celery, peppers, and broccoli/cauliflower into dipping-sized sticks when you get home from the grocery store. Then it would be easy to grab some of those from the fridge along with a container of guacamole or hummus for a snack instead of something salty that has a shelf life of forever.
For an added bonus, try some fermented snacks. Click here for a simple fermented carrots recipe. (It is really simple. No previous fermentation experience needed.)
Skip the Store
Maybe you are very busy and never make it to the grocery store despite your Pinterest boards of good ideas. Perhaps a meal delivery subscription would be ideal for you. Can you imagine all the prep of grocery shopping and recipe testing done for you? HelloFresh and SunBasket are two services I have heard are good.
Only you know how healthy eating will best fit into your unique life. But I promise, there is a way to do it. If you need some help figuring out how, schedule a free 20-minute strategy session with me.
Labels and Names
You are not a label. You are you. The food industry is full of labels: paleo, vegan, keto, raw, etc. Again, what works for your friend might not work for you.
Every single diet has come about because it does work . . . for some people.
But that doesn’t mean it will work for you.
Don’t start with a label. Don’t start with the name of a diet.
Start with you. To eat healthy, start by increasing your veggies. Figure out what healthy changes will work with your personality, tastes, preferences, and lifestyle.
Fill the Gaps
Despite our best efforts to eat healthy, everyone has gaps in their micronutrition. Our soil conditions aren’t what they used to be for growing crops. Our stressors and lifestyles have increased our body’s need for certain micronutrients. Everyone can benefit from a daily multivitamin.
As Dr. Mark Hyman says, “Even with a perfect diet, the combination of many things –including our depleted soils, the storage and transportation of our food, genetic alterations of traditional heirloom species, and the increased stress and nutritional demands resulting from a toxic environment – make it impossible for us to get the vitamins and minerals we need solely from the foods we eat.”
You can read this post I wrote identifying the 4 critical questions to ask before buying another vitamin, or you can just click here to skip the research (that I’ve already done for you) and buy the best.
How Can I Eat Healthy?
- Focus on your veggies first.
- Eat colorful food.
- Select real food when possible. (Food with no ingredient list (fruit/veggies) or with an ingredient list made up of things you recognize.
- Avoid added sugar and sweeteners.
- Work within your current lifestyle.
- Ignore labels. Eat real food. Eat because it nourishes you.
- Fill the gaps in your diet with a daily multivitamin.
Share this post on Facebook or pin it to Pinterest so you friends can find clear and simple answers to the question “How can I eat healthy?”