How do I start eating healthy? Focus on small and consistent changes.

Eating healthy isn’t a complicated science. You can begin to make small changes in your daily diet and move confidently toward new and healthier eating habits.

Start Small, Be Consistent

Humans are terrible multitaskers. You’re more likely to succeed if you make small and consistent changes rather than completely overhauling your diet and lifestyle. Repeating one healthy habit each day provides a sense of accomplishment, helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed, and significantly increases your chances of sticking to the new change.

I recommend that you select only one of the suggested changes below and remain committed until it becomes a habit. Then revisit this list to select another thing to change.

Take Less, Drink More

Most of us don’t realize that we take more food than we need. Studies show that portion control is one of the most effective ways to reduce caloric intake and support fat loss. When selecting food, you can use the eyeball method of portion control based on this checklist:

General Measurements:

  • 1 cup = baseball
  • ½ cup = lightbulb
  • 1 oz. or 2 tbsp. = golf ball
  • 1 tbsp. = poker chip

Common Food Measurements:

  • 1 slice of bread = index card
  • 3 oz. chicken or meat = deck of cards
  • 3 oz. fish = checkbook
  • 1 oz. lunch meat = DVD or CD
  • 3 oz. muffin or biscuit = hockey puck
  • 1½ oz. cheese = 3 dice
  • 1 teaspoon of a condiment = 1 die

Feelings of hunger take around twenty minutes to fully subside from when you start eating. I recommend eating slower by putting your fork down between each bite. Also, drink water throughout the meal. This will allow your body to recognize enough calories have been consumed without taking in more than you need.

Shop on the Outside

Commercial grocery stores place all of the processed, boxed, and junk foods inside of the aisles while the natural and whole-food items are found in the outer ring of the store.

When food shopping, I recommend beginning with the end in mind. Start your shopping journey with a list detailing exactly what you need. If you must enter the aisles (e.g., to get spices), leave your cart at the far end, walk in, grab it and get out. This will help you avoid the temptation to buy unnecessary and unhealthy items.

Eliminate (Or Reduce) Processed Sugar

Natural sugars found in fruits and other whole foods pose no threat to your health when consumed responsibly. White table sugar and processed brown sugar, on the other hand, are major contributors to weight gain and preventable diseases.

Avoid high-sugar options when dining out and shopping. Cut out processed sugar when you can. If you need to use it, try whole-leaf stevia. There’s also panela, an Amazonian raw cane sugar that contains trace minerals and doesn’t spike your blood sugar like the processed stuff.

Save Time and Money with Meal Prep

Preparing your meals in advance is associated with a reduced risk of obesity and a greater dietary satisfaction thanks to meal variety. It also saves you time and money while helping you avoid temptation. You’re less likely to get fast food if you have a healthy lunch on the passenger seat.

Pick a day and dedicate one or two hours to cooking a recipe in bulk, then dividing it equally in plastic containers. I cook twice a week: once on Sunday, and again on Thursday. I use two different recipes and make enough food to provide me with lunch and dinner for several days. I only have to make breakfast and healthy snacks such as oatmeal with maca and blueberries, or a whey protein shake with raw cacao powder.

Eat Complex Carbs, Limit Simple Carbs

Complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes or wild rice, take longer to digest and release glucose into the bloodstream. Simple carbohydrates, such as russet (white) potatoes and processed (white) rice, digest quickly and release an overabundance of glucose, spiking blood sugar, promoting fat storage, and possibly triggering fatigue.

You don’t have to throw simple carbs out of your diet; instead, restrict your intake of simple carbohydrates to post-workout when your muscles need an immediate supply of glucose. For the rest of the day, focus on eating natural forms of complex carbs.

Increase the Protein in Your Diet

Protein keeps you satiated, provides muscle-building amino acids, and has been shown to support overall health. The best sources of protein that are bioavailable, or easy to digest and assimilate, include whey isolate, whole eggs, plant extract protein, chicken breast, turkey breast, and wild fish.

Depending on your dietary needs, I would recommend trying to eat one portion of protein (using the portion control checklist above) with every meal. This will help you feel fuller longer while supporting fitness goals.

Switch Up Your Salt

Table salt, or sodium chloride, is the result of taking sea salt, putting it through rigorous processing, and adding anti-clumping compounds. Studies suggest that frequent intake of table salt might promote mineral depletion, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis.

Himalayan pink salt contains trace minerals, and it’s been suggested to benefit cardiovascular health when consumed in moderation. Your salt, or overall sodium intake, should be based on your physical activity level, because sodium is lost through sweat. Check with your doctor on an appropriate daily range, stop using white, processed table salt, and buy pink Himalayan salt instead.

Never Leave Home Without a Healthy Snack

If you leave home empty-handed, you’re susceptible to fast-food temptation when you get hungry because you’re in no mood to think or cook. Since fast-food options take all of the guesswork out of the equation, you’re naturally drawn to it, regardless of the high calories and lack of real nutrients.

Before you run errands or go to work, grab a healthy, protein-rich snack. A protein bar or a protein shake is great. Almonds and pumpkin seeds mixed with sugar-free dry fruit are better.

Drink an Afternoon Tea or Coffee (No Sugar)

Feel sluggish around midday? Take a quick, ten-minute nap. If you don’t have the luxury of naptime at home or the office, consider coffee or tea without sugar. The caffeine found in coffee and tea is a thermogenic, or fat burning compound. It has also been shown to provide a much-needed mental boost in the sleep deprived.

Drink a cup of tea or coffee in the early afternoon when you notice a dip in energy levels. Avoid putting sugar in your coffee or tea. A small amount of raw honey is okay. If sweetness is a necessity, try whole-leaf stevia. Skip the dairy-based creamer and opt for a sugar-free almond milk instead.

Still Asking Yourself, “How Do I Start Eating Healthy?”

Have any questions about the tips and tricks above? Do you have your own methods for eating healthy that aren’t mentioned? Let me know in the comments below!

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