In my opinion, eating healthy should never be a chore. It should be a lifestyle choice that is catered specifically to your own likes and needs. You should be able to eat what you love and love what you eat! That said, I realize not everyone gets as excited as I do when it comes to healthy foods 🙂 In fact, my sister (Hi Ris!), tends to get extremely stressed out when it comes to eating healthy. I once received a text from her that included a picture of yoga pants with the caption “what I wear when eating a particularly large burger.” LOL.
So… I decided to come up with a beginner’s guide to eating healthy that I’m going to dedicate to her. Just a disclaimer: these are ideas based solely on my opinions and things that worked for me. I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. Just a soon to be medical student who loves to eat 🙂 Anyway, here it goes.
Tip #1 Make a list of the healthy foods you like to eat.
Look through the following list and re-create your own list containing the foods you know you like and the foods that you would like to try. Make sure your list includes the same five categories as the list below: fruits, veggies, grains, proteins, and fat. This list will come in handy when you go grocery shopping and will also help you develop versatile, balanced meals/snacks that are both healthy and satisfying. In order to create these balanced meals/snacks, try to include at least one protein and/or healthy fat with at least one veggie or fruit. Something that works for me is to include 1-2 grains per day (experiment and see what works for you and what leaves you feeling most satisfied and energized).
There might be a few things that I forgot, but this is a pretty solid list to start out with. And of course you can still include some of your favorite treats like pretzels or cookies. Just remember moderation is key!
An example of a balanced snack using this list would be hummus (from the protein section) with carrots and peppers (from the veggie section). OR you could try avocado (from the healthy fat section) with tomatoes (from the veggie section) and eggs (from the protein section) on a slice of whole grain toast (from the grains section). There are so many possibilities!!
Tip # 2 Start Small!
Don’t try to change your entire diet immediately. Drastic changes make it more difficult to convince yourself to start eating healthy. If you do too much too soon, you may find it difficult to stick with it. Start by making small adjustments. Include a fruit or vegetable in each meal/snack, pay attention when you’re body tells you that you are full, drink more water, start eating brown rice instead of white rice, replace bad processed fats with the wonderfully healthy ones from the list above. Remember, this is not a diet. It is a lifestyle 🙂
Tip # 3 Learn to Love Fruits and Veggies
If you don’t love fruits and vegetables try including them in smoothies! I like to add spinach and kale to fruit smoothies and I swear if you add a banana, other fruits, some yogurt, or vanilla almond milk you can’t even taste the greens 🙂 You can also try roasting vegetables! I like to roast sweet potatoes (healthy sweet potato fries), regular potatoes (healthy french fries), green beans (amazing), and broccoli (delicious). If those ideas don’t work, you can also try dipping your fruits and veggies in something delicious. You can dip fruit in peanut butter or yogurt and veggies in hummus or hot sauce!
Tip # 4 Get Creative
Look up healthy recipes on Pinterest or Google and try to find healthy versions of your favorite comfort foods. Search for things like healthy muffins, healthy grilled cheese, healthy mac and cheese, and healthy pizza! I’m not saying to eat only these things, but it’s good to have a go-to healthy comfort food to satisfy your cravings once in a while.
Tip #5 Phase Out and Minimize Processed Foods
Try to prepare more of your food at home. Most things are a lot healthier when they are homemade because you can control the ingredients and there are less preservatives and chemicals. Start buying less snacks at the grocery store. Pack your lunch. Pack Snacks. Always eat breakfast!
Tip #6 Make Healthy Snacks Accessible
Cut up fresh vegetables (bell peppers, carrots, celery, broccoli) and store them in mason jars in the fridge. Make a fruit bowl with apples, oranges, grapefruit, etc. Put some berries or grapes in mason jars to take to school or work 🙂 Make your own trail mix baggies for the week with some nuts, dried fruit, and dark chocolate!
So those are my tips! Don’t let yourself feel limited. Eat what you love, just in moderation. Think of it as a lifestyle change and not something you have to do in order to lose a quick 15 pounds. Eat healthy because you want to feel better, have more energy, and be healthier! I know you guys can do it! Hope this helped 🙂 Post a comment below if you have any other beginner tips for eating healthy!