8 simple tips on healthy eating to make your life easier (+2 printable resources)
Have you heard the saying “You are what you eat”?
The food you eat has a great impact on your overall health and wellbeing.
However, healthy eating may look different for everyone. Before we get into what healthy eating is, let’s first bust some myths about what healthy eating is not.
Healthy eating is not about chasing the latest diet fads, counting every calorie, eating boring food, and stopping eating foods you enjoy. It is not supposed to add stress to your life.
Instead, healthy eating is about eating balanced meals that nourish your body and please your tastebuds.
And it doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. Rather see it as an invitation to pay attention to your body, mood, and energy levels. Eating healthy will help you build a better relationship with food and your health.
In this article, I’ll walk you through 8 simple tips to build the foundations of your healthy eating habit. As you incorporate these tips one by one into your diet, you will start noticing how they impact your overall wellbeing.
Ready to dive in?
Let’s get started!
8 simple tips for healthy eating
1. Eat more whole foods and less processed foods
This is the cornerstone of a healthy diet.
The best thing you can do for your health is to reduce the amount of processed foods you eat and include more whole foods into your diet.
Processed food is food that has undergone a process that changes the original character of the ingredients used to make it. In this category belong sugary drinks, breakfast cereal, and frozen meals – to name a few.
Whereas whole food is defined as raw, minimally processed, and non-GMO.
You shouldn’t aim for eliminating all processed foods from your diet at once. This can be challenging and stressful, which is bad for your health. Instead, start by evaluating what you eat and gradually introduce new whole food alternatives.
- Check out my guide on whole vs. processed foods for examples of how you can swap processed foods with delicious whole food alternatives.
- Not all whole foods are made the same way. Whenever possible, it’s best to buy organic. Organic food is grown without the use of synthetic chemicals. I know that buying organic can turn out to be quite expensive, but the good news is you don’t have to buy everything organic. As a general rule, if you’re eating the skin or closer to the skin of your produce, it is better to choose organic. Refer to the Dirty Dozen list for the best foods to buy organic.
- If your food labels are full of ingredients you can’t read or understand, it’s better to avoid them.
- If you are not sure about what food to stock in your pantry and fridge, download my free healthy pantry guide to find out!
2. Find a balanced diet that suits you
There are so many diets out there and it can be confusing. Every day, you hear news about “Eat this, not that!” While following a specific diet might seem easier, the fact is, another person’s antidote may be your poison.
It’s important you find a healthy and balanced diet that works for you.
- Keep a food diary to find your ideal diet. A food diary will help you keep track of what you are eating and how certain foods make you feel. For instance, if you get bloated after eating a certain food then consider eating it less frequently. Here’s my weekly food diary template to help you get started.
- Evaluate your diet from time to time because what worked for you a half year ago may not suit you anymore. A food diary is great for this too!
3. Meal plan once a week
Are you the type of person who runs to the supermarket after work every day and thinks about what to eat for dinner while there? Then you must know how exhausting that can get.
If you don’t have a set meal plan you might also choose to get something that’s quicker to make, alas not as healthy. We’ve all been there.
To avoid such a situation, try planning your meals for the week ahead. What I do is spend around 30 minutes on Saturday to come up with meal ideas for the following week.
Here’s how you can start meal planning for the week.
- Print my weekly meal plan template and start planning!
- To ignite your planning efforts, this is the principle I use to effortlessly plan my meals. I usually plan to eat seafood 1-2 days a week, meat 2-3 days a week, vegan meals for 1-2 day a week, and have take out for dinner once a week. So, if you have an ideal frequency for each food group, it will get easier for you to make a meal plan!
4. Stock healthy snacks at home
When you’re hungry, you’re more likely to reach for high-calorie food.
For instance, when I was struggling with binge eating disorder, I had a convenience store on the first floor of my building (Japanese convenience stores are open 24/7 and they have everything) and I used to always run down and get whatever I was craving at the moment.
So ultimately, it comes down to convenience.
Keep your pantry stocked with healthy snacks and you’ll be more likely to stay away from unhealthy ones.
- Here are some examples of healthy (and delicious) snacks I recommend
- Homemade hummus with carrots
- Organic peanut butter with apples or brown rice cakes
- Tofu with soy sauce
- Fresh or frozen fruits with greek yogurt
5. Take your nutrients from food over supplements
Do you take 10 different supplements thinking you’re helping your health? Or do you feel an urge to take supplements every time you are concerned about nutrition?
There are better ways to get your daily dose of nutrients – directly from the source.
As Dr. JoAnn Manson, professor of medicine and epidemiology says “supplements are never a substitute for a balanced, healthful diet”. In fact, they may even distract you from other healthy practices that yield greater benefits.
While supplements may be helpful when you have a nutrient deficiency, a 2019 study found that excess intake of supplements may be linked with an increased risk of all-cause mortality.
- Unless you have a nutrient deficiency, rely on foods as your primary source of nutrients.
- If you want some guidelines to help you plan nutritious, balanced meals, check out the Healthy Eating Plate guide created by the Harvard School of Public Health.
Copyright © 2011, Harvard University. For more information about The Healthy Eating Plate, please see The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, www.thenutritionsource.org, and Harvard Health Publications, www.health.harvard.edu.)
6. Enjoy more home-made meals
Do you like cooking? I wasn’t a big fan of cooking when I was living alone but I got into cooking after I started living with my partner because I found joy in sharing the meals I cooked!
The thing is, you don’t know exactly what’s inside your food in restaurants or takeaways. And you don’t have much control over the ingredients and the quality of ingredients that go into your meal.
That’s why the best way to eat healthily is to cook at home most of the time!
- Not sure where to start? Turn to YouTube channels such as Green Healthy Cooking to learn how you can cook healthy meals with just a few simple steps.
- Consider joining a cooking Masterclass. My cooking drastically changed after I took The Art of Home Cooking Masterclass with Alice Waters. In this Masterclass, I learned how to pick fresh ingredients and cook minimally processed meals that are also easy to make. I also loved learning how to cook delicious food using spices – totally a game-changer.
7. Pay attention to hidden sugar
Are you a Starbucks fan? I am too!
But you’ll be shocked to learn how much sugar is in your daily Starbucks drink.
On average, one drink sold by cafes like Starbucks has more than double the daily sugar intake recommended by the American Heart Association – 45 grams a day for men and 30 grams for women.
And in most cases, it’s not always easy to spot the sugar in your food or beverages. That’s why many people consume more sugar than they think, which can lead to an increased risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular and cognitive diseases, obesity, diabetes, and even cancer.
- Learn to spot hidden sugar. Sugar may be hidden under many names, including dextrose, fructose, maltose, and glucose.
- Limit your intake of added sugars, which are typically hidden. There is a difference between naturally occurring and added sugars. Naturally occurring sugars are found in whole foods such as fruits, while added sugars are put in processed foods during preparation. Foods such as granola bars, salad dressings, breakfast cereals, and sugary fizzy drinks are full of added sugars and it is best to stay away from. Eating more whole foods and less processed foods will help lower your intake of the dangerous added sugars (see tip #1).
8. Focus on the bigger picture
So far, we’ve covered how you can eat more healthy and nutritious food, which is only one part of living a healthy life.
Ultimately, eating healthy does not equal being healthy. If you are in an unhappy relationship, in a job that makes you miserable, or in a bad financial situation, the stress will most likely prevent you from living a healthy lifestyle.
As Joshua Rosenthal says:
“You can eat all the broccoli and brown rice in the world, but if you feel isolated and lonely, you are not going to be living life at full capacity.”
That’s why it’s important to focus on the bigger picture.
- Take a moment to evaluate which areas of your life you are feeling happy with and which areas may need your attention more. The Circle of Life is a free interactive tool to help you put things into perspective.
- If you feel caught up in every little detail of what you eat, look at your health from a holistic perspective. More than anything this is a mindset shift. Check out my guide on holistic lifestyle for beginners to get started.