For some, healthy eating can seem unattainable. Fast food and processed foods tap into the idea of convenience, and because the pace of our society seems to move so quickly, we definitely understand how it may have a hold over you. But what if we told you that healthy eating doesn’t have to take up all of your time, or burn a hole into your wallet?
Healthy eating is more than a diet; it’s a lifestyle, and we’re huge proponents of it. If you’re feeling stuck and don’t know where to start but want to start eating healthy, read on and start making changes.
What is “healthy eating” exactly?
Believe it or not, healthy eating can be hard to define. In fact, the BC Health Ministry even struggled with coming with an apt and succinct definition. It’s easy to fall into the trap of only considering calories. But this is just one aspect of healthy eating. Sure, it contributes to healthy eating, but healthy eating is so much more than that.
Healthy eating can be defined as a pattern of eating that supports your best possible health—physical, mental, and emotional. This includes making smart food choices that help your body function optimally.
Of course, this isn’t to say that you can’t enjoy sometimes-foods, like dessert. The key here, with healthy eating, is balance.
Why don't we eat a healthy diet?
The reason as to why we don’t eat a healthy diet is different for everyone. For some, it’s for the sake of convenience; processed food is often quick to prepare, and in many cases, already prepared for you. When these things are so readily available, it’s easy to fall into the trap of eating an unhealthy diet. But as it turns out, it goes a bit deeper than just convenience.
Processed and fast foods are made to be addicting. Our taste buds naturally crave foods that are high in calories and high in fat; they evolved to do so because our predecessors needed such foods for energy so they could hunt and gather. Of course, food is much more easy to acquire these days, and we’ve also created food that tastes even better than what nature has to offer.
Companies have taken advantage of this. In fact, a 2010 study shows that our brain chemistry can actually change when fast food is regularly consumed. Other studies show that food—especially fast food—can be as addictive as drugs.
The good thing is, the reverse can be true, too.
How do we start eating healthier?
Junk food may be addicting, but if we eat enough healthy foods, we can also access our taste and change it. Habits are all formed in the same way, whether they’re good or bad. So, when you’re trying to eat healthier, remember that it will take some time to form that habit. Going cold turkey may not necessarily be the best method for some; the all-or-nothing approach can be too extreme and may make it harder to stick to your diet.
So, what are the tangible steps you can take so you can start eating healthier?
For one, try to follow some sort of plan. When you have all your meals planned out, you make it easier for yourself to not stray from your healthy eating goals. Creating a thorough grocery list that ensures you have fresh, non-processed foods and meal-planning will definitely help you form those healthy habits.
One terrific option that will help you stay on course is by taking advantage of meal prep delivery services, like Planted Meals. With all your meals planned ahead for you, and all the healthy ingredients acquired, it’s much easier to stick with a healthy diet when all the thinking is already done for you.
Like suggested above, changing small things here and there will increase your chances of success. Swapping out less healthy things with options that are better for your body over time will keep you on track as you slowly introduce nutritious foods into your diet.
One of the most important things to remember is that you need to be realistic with your goals, and to take it easy on yourself. What’s realistic is that you will indulge, but it’s important to be balanced and not beat yourself up when you eat something less nutritious. Sure, you enjoyed that chocolate chip cookie, but is that really the worst thing in the world? If you enjoyed it and you’re still eating mostly healthy, nutritious foods, then you’re still ahead.
With that said, make sure you’re incorporating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and drink lots and lots of water. These foods will help you build a strong foundation for healthy eating.
What’s the right diet for me?
You’ve likely heard about all the different diets before. Pescatarian, vegetarian, keto, paleo… how does one figure out what works best for them?
One important factor that will help you decide which diet to select is by figuring out what your goal is. Is your goal to lose weight? Maybe your goal is just to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Perhaps you’re hoping to reduce your carbon footprint. Whatever your reason may be, your goal will guide you towards the diet that works best for you.
Especially if you’ve never tried out this new diet, ensure that it provides lots of flexibility, or at least to a point with which you’re comfortable. A number of diets require the elimination of certain foods or even entire food groups. Because healthy eating is all about balance, try to find a flexible diet or food plan that allows for the occasional treat. This will help you stay realistic when it comes to your goals.
Balance is the name of the game when it comes to healthy eating, which means that whatever diet you choose to follow should provide enough nutrients and calories to keep you satiated and energized. Before committing to a diet that eliminates entire food groups, be sure to check in with your doctor to see if this is a healthy and viable option.
Part of being realistic is making sure that you will actually enjoy your new diet. If your diet includes a bunch of foods that you don’t enjoy, or completely eliminates foods that you love, that can make it harder for you to stick to your plan. Find one that allows you to enjoy not only food, but life. If you’re hoping to stick with healthy eating long-term, it’s likely that you won’t stick to it, making your goals harder to achieve.
How can I simplify nutrition?
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated. Now that you have a stronger grasp on what healthy eating entails and how we can form healthier habits, there are a few more things to consider that will help you simplify healthy eating. These things are known as nutritional laws.
One of those rules is the 80/20 rule. Simply put, it’s just ensuring that you’re eating healthy eighty percent of the time, and the remaining twenty percent is for when you want to treat yourself.
Goals that are temporary or short-term can make healthy eating hard in the long-term. Looking good for the beach season, for example, may lead to crash diets or diets that are too low-calorie. When it comes to formulating goals pertaining to your diet, plan for longevity. The goal is to be healthy in the long-run, not only for beach season.
Practicing mindfulness is also a huge part of healthy eating. The opposite of mindful eating is mindless eating, and we’ve all done it. It’s when you’re sitting in front of the couch, ready to catch another episode of your favourite show, and you tear open a bag of chips. Before you know it, the entire bag of chips is gone. When you eat with intention, you will be more in control of what you put into your body.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be intimidating. With the right knowledge and support—whether it’s from your family and friends, or with the help of a meal prep delivery company like Planted Meals—eating healthy is an attainable goal.
What’s your secret to eating healthy? If you’ve struggled with healthy eating in the past, what was your biggest struggle? Let us know in the comments below!