To adopt healthy eating habits is essential to feel good physically and mentally, but the amount of information available nowadays can be confusing. Learn 5 tips to adopt healthy eating habits without having to diet ever again!
My experience with diets
If you saw my article about the impacts social media had in my mental health, you would know that the internet and some of the platforms out there have had a pretty big influence on my way of eating during the past few years.
My interest in fitness made me want to know more about health and nutrition and my researches taught me a lot. However, it took me some time to realize that all diets do not have the same impact on everyone.
And only to clarify: I use the term “diet” in the sense of “A particular way of eating that is repeated during a period of time”.
Counting macros? Intermittent fasting? Six meals a day?
At this point, I wouldn’t be able to tell you how many diets and eating patterns I have experienced and dropped after a few days/weeks. It is mostly through social media and influencers that I learned about counting calories, intermittent fasting, low-carb and high-protein diets or the six meals a day pattern.
And after trying all of these… meh. Not only none of these diets helped me reach my personal goals, but they also made me hungrier or messed up my relationship with food.
So yes, I fell into the trap of dieting and believed everything I saw on the internet such as “You need at least 150g of protein to build muscle” or “Eating meat is the only way to get stronger” or “Bread and pasta will make you fat”.
Well… all of this is untrue, and brands take advantage of these trends to adapt their marketing strategy. Products labeled as “low-calorie”, “low-fat” or “high-protein” in your grocery store are the result of the eating movements that constantly change throughout the years.
What diets taught me
One of the most important things I learned is that there is no one-size-fits-all diet. One person can feel fine while doing intermittent fasting when another person not at all, and that is completely fine.
In the same way, you don’t have to eat broccoli just because JLo does and looks amazing. Nutrition doesn’t limit itself to one diet or one eating pattern.
On the contrary, I am convinced that nothing can replace a healthy, diversified and balanced diet, mostly based on whole foods.
Nutritious calories vs Empty calories
No matter your meals’ pattern, time or frequency is, what really needs all of your attention is the quality. By quality, I mean the nutrient density of your food; the number of vitamins, fiber and minerals it contains.
Why? Because those are the essential elements your body needs to function properly. We can then refer to nutritious calories, which can be found in fruits, vegetables or whole grains.
On the contrary, we refer to empty calories when talking about foods or beverages that don’t provide any nutrients to our body. Therefore, they don’t satisfy our hunger levels. Those empty calories can be found in refined sugar, alcohol or saturated fats and are better when consumed in a limited amount.
Learning about this made me change the way I see nutrition and eat. Since then, I make sure to read the labels of every single food I take when grocery shopping. And let me tell you that a lot of these foods go back to their displays.
HOWEVER, donuts, Nutella and alcohol are still part of my life, but I make sure to only have them on special occasions ;-))
So, with all this information, how to start eating healthy and most importantly enjoy it?
5 Tips to adopt healthy eating habits
1. Learn to know yourself
The only way to know what works for you is just to try things for yourself in terms of nutrition and to listen to your body.
You are not hungry in the morning? Don’t force yourself to eat breakfast, even when people say you shouldn’t be skipping it. Do you feel hungry between meals? Get you a healthy snack! Feeling bloated after a meal? You might have a food intolerance.
Take action based on your body’s signs and not based on what it is said on the internet or in magazines. Everyone is different.
2. Check food labels
When choosing processed foods (that don’t come from the earth or trees), make sure you check the ingredients first, even if it might look like a healthy option.
Avoid foods that have a never-ending list of ingredients and that contain added sugars or additives. Choose products made of natural ingredients that you don’t have to re-read 5 times to pronounce properly.
3. Don’t restrict yourself
The goal isn’t to radically change your habits. Start by adding more fruits/vegetables into your meals and finding healthy alternatives to your favorite dishes.
Plus, don’t remove every single not-so-healthy food if it makes your soul happy; a restrictive diet is not sustainable.
4. Find what you enjoy
I’ll say it again: if you don’t like broccoli, don’t eat those d*mn broccolis only because it is considered as healthy.
Try foods you don’t know, find new ways to cook, different seasonings or get inspiration from blogs (I make really easy recipes right here).
5. Make it a lifestyle
Do yourself a favor: promise yourself to never go back to dieting again. I’m probably not the first one you hear saying diets aren’t effective in the long run.
Investing in your health requires time and consistency. It might not look easy at the beginning, but I promise that your body and taste buds will adapt, and you’ll get to the point of craving healthy foods.
What are your tips on how to adopt healthy eating habits? What are your struggles? Leave them in the comments below or come chat with me about the topic on Instagram @vlourish!