Changing the way you eat is the first step to better health. Eating well isn't just about eating fruits and vegetables. Knowing which foods to eat and which to avoid will help you create a nutritional plan that will strengthen your body and improve your overall health. Eating a good diet can give you more energy and many other benefits, such as lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and less stress.
Method 1 of 3: Create a balanced diet
Step 1. Eat 250-350g of complex carbohydrates every day
Complex carbohydrates are digested and absorbed slowly by the body. This means they provide more nutrients and keep you fuller for longer. It is recommended that you consume complex carbohydrates, including whole grain flour, sweet potatoes, oats, and brown rice. These healthy carbs are generally higher in vitamins and other nutrients than simple carbs, like white bread and white rice.
- Choose wheat, multigrain or rye bread as well as whole wheat pasta.
- If you like oatmeal for breakfast, choose whole oats.
- Depending on your individual needs, your doctor may recommend that you eat less carbohydrates.
Step 2. Fill at least half of your plate with vegetables
Vegetables are packed with nutrients and are surprisingly easy to incorporate into meals. Go for leafy green vegetables like kale, collard greens, mustard greens and swiss chard. Prepare a simple stir-fry with olive oil, garlic, and a little salt and pepper, which will be a tasty and nutritious meal.
- Add spinach to a shake in the morning to spice it up with a serving of leafy greens you won't even notice.
- The next time you're making tacos, try adding some peppers and onions.
- Pasta dishes are ideal for eating more vegetables. For example, you can add mushrooms to your spaghetti or lasagna.
- Don't be afraid to try new foods. If you think you don't like some veg, just try a different type.
Step 3. Eat 2 to 3 servings of fruit each day
Fruits are healthy and can be a delicious treat. You can have an apple or pear as a mid-morning snack, or look for ways to incorporate fruit into other preparations.
- Add berries or a banana to your morning cereal or oatmeal.
- Fresh fruit tastes great in salads. Try adding dried cranberries for extra flavor or mixing a pear with goat cheese with leafy greens.
Step 4. Eat healthy, lean protein for more energy
Protein helps you build muscle and provides you with a steady energy supply throughout the day. Choose lean protein so you don't add too much fat to your diet. There are some great choices that include protein from both meat and plants. Opinions differ as to how much protein you need each day, so consult your doctor or use an online calculator to find specific amounts. Examples of healthy proteins include:
- lean slices of chicken, pork and turkey;
- fish, such as salmon, cod and tuna;
- nuts such as cashews, almonds and pistachios;
- beans, such as white beans, pinto beans, and cannellini beans;
- lentils and chickpeas.
Step 5. Go for healthy fats
Healthy fats should make up 20-35% of your daily calories. You need to consume it for your body to function properly. However, it is important to choose the right types. Read food labels and choose those that are low in saturated fat. As a general rule, you should aim to consume less than 20 to 30 grams of saturated fat per day. Choose foods like avocados, salmon, tuna, and nut butter to get the healthy fats you need.
- Monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids are good fats that you should try to eat on a regular basis. They help reduce "bad cholesterol" in the body by increasing "good cholesterol".
- Foods rich in fatty acids are olive oil, nuts, fish oil, and various seed oils. Adding these “good” fats to your weekly diet can lower your cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease.
- Avoid trans fats and saturated fats. Trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated oils, are a form of unsaturated fat commonly found in processed foods. Their consumption increases the risk of heart disease.
Step 6. Limit your salt intake
A little sodium is good for the body; you will get enough of it by eating a healthy diet. However, avoid adding salt to your dishes and completely refrain from eating industrial foods that contain a lot of salt.
- Instead of seasoning your food with salt, try adding fresh herbs like cilantro, chives or dill to enhance the taste.
- Canned vegetables can be high in sodium, so eat them fresh or frozen whenever possible.
- Ask your doctor how much salt you can eat. If you have high blood pressure or heart problems, you may need to limit your intake even more.
Step 7. Drink at least 2.5 liters of water per day
Water is essential for health, so be sure to drink at least 2.5 liters per day if you are female and 3.5 liters if you are male. Write down how much water you drink to see if you are getting enough. Try to get a bottle with visible markings to make your measurements easier. Another tip is to drink before you even feel thirsty. This will help you prevent dehydration.
- Take water with you so that you can drink quickly if you are thirsty.
- If you participate in intense physical activity or spend time outdoors in hot weather, be sure to replenish your body by drinking extra water on this day.
Method 2 of 3: Consciously Eat
Step 1. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet
Your doctor will be of great help, so don't be afraid to consult him. Ask him what type of diet is best for you. Everyone's health and body are different, but they can recommend ideas that are right for you.
- Your doctor can also help you determine a healthy weight and suggest an exercise program if that interests you.
- Always seek her advice before taking any vitamins or supplements.
Step 2. Eat only when you are hungry
It is normal to turn to food when you feel certain emotions. The main thing is to pay attention to what prompts you to eat and only do so when you are really hungry. If you find that you are eating more than you want, start writing down your meal times and how you are feeling afterwards so you can spot patterns.
- For example, maybe you eat when you are stressed or sad. In this case, try to find a relaxing activity that will serve as an alternative. Go for a nice walk or listen to an interesting podcast rather than looking for a snack.
- If you are using food as a way to celebrate something, you can definitely do it in moderation. If you find that you overeat during happy times, try to party by giving yourself something other than food. For example, you can book a trip or buy yourself a new pair of shoes.
Step 3. Enjoy your food and eat slowly
It takes a while for your stomach to tell your brain it's full, which is why eating more slowly can help. So when you get the message and start feeling full, you won't have eaten too much food. Also, eating more slowly can help you savor and enjoy your meal.
- Chew each bite 20 to 40 times to fully release all of its flavors.
- Wait 5 or 10 minutes between each bite if you are eating a large meal.
- Drink a full glass of water throughout your meal. Stopping to drink will slow your pace and help you feel fuller.
- Put your fork down between each bite. This will remind you that you need to finish the food in your mouth before you take another bite.
Step 4. Focus on how the food feels
Pay attention to how you feel after each meal. You may start to notice that foods with a lot of fat, like cheeseburgers, make you feel overly full and dizzy. You may also find that eating a salad that is high in protein gives you energy. Try to write down how you feel after each meal so that you can remember these sensations.
If a food makes you feel unwell, look for a healthier alternative. For example, replace your sausage pizza with a vegetarian pizza on a thin whole wheat crust
Step 5. Pay attention to where your food is coming from
It will help you pay more attention, which can lead to a healthy relationship with food. The more attention you pay to how your food is prepared and where it comes from, the more likely you are to make healthy choices. Try to buy fresh, local foods if your location and budget allow.
- For example, if you have a choice between local tomatoes and tomatoes imported from afar, choose the local ones. You will be proud to support the local economy and your produce will inevitably be fresher.
- Read the labels. If you don't recognize most of the main ingredients, choose something else. The simplest food with the fewest preservatives is often the healthiest option.
Method 3 of 3: Plan your meals
Step 1. Eat breakfast even if you are not hungry
Breakfast stimulates the metabolism and keeps it active all morning. This will allow you to keep your energy during this period. If you skip breakfast, you may end up starving at lunch, which will cause you to overindulge to make up for it. Plan your breakfasts for the week so it's easy to have a simple, healthy meal to start your day.
- A light breakfast is better than no breakfast at all. If you don't fancy a full meal, drink at least some water and eat a piece of fruit, a protein bar, or a piece of wholemeal bread.
- Try a few ready-to-eat options, like a fruit and yogurt parfait, a frittata, or yesterday's leftover oatmeal.
- Don't skip breakfast on the day of an important exam, job interview, or other significant event. You may be distracted by your hunger or not have enough energy to allow your brain to function at its full potential.
Step 2. Eat several small meals and snacks throughout the day
Try to eat 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) with 2 snacks between 2 meals. This will allow you to eat a little less to give your body a more digestible amount and it will keep your blood sugar levels constant throughout the day. A good routine for the day might look like this:
- for breakfast, a fruit smoothie with proteins, fruits and vegetables;
- as a morning snack, an apple with nut butter or a small portion of cheese;
- for lunch, a salad with lots of vegetables, lean protein and a cereal like quinoa or farro;
- as an afternoon snack, hummus, peppers and whole wheat pita;
- for dinner, grilled or baked fish, a sweet potato and roasted broccoli.
Step 3. Eat less meat and more plants
A more vegetarian diet has many health benefits. Even if you don't want to cut back too much, you can try participating in the international “Meatless Monday” campaign, which encourages people to give up meat one day a week. Most people already have enough protein in their diet, however you can consult your doctor if in doubt.
- Use mushrooms instead of meat in pasta dishes to achieve a meaty texture with less fat.
- Try using black beans for tacos or burritos instead of meat for better flavor and more protein.
Step 4. Plan your meals
Write down the meals and snacks you want to eat during the week. Planning ahead can help you make healthy choices rather than impulsively looking for junk food when you're hungry. Try to choose meals that use the same ingredients (to make shopping easier), but are varied enough that you don't get disgusted. If you can, try to cook some meals ahead of time so you always have a healthy option on hand.
- For example, you can make vegetarian fajitas one evening, then use the leftover vegetables in a Mexican salad the next.
- Wash and cut all of your weekly ingredients as soon as you get back from the supermarket so you always have a healthy snack on hand.
- Try making several hard-boiled eggs at the start of the week so you can have one for breakfast or have a source of protein to add to your salads.
Step 5. Carefully follow your shopping list
Write down everything you need for your mealtime routine so that you can purchase all of the essential ingredients. When you go to the supermarket, buy only what is on your list. This will help you cut down on impulse purchases, like snacks or sweets.
- Do not shop when you are hungry, as you risk buying unnecessary products.
- Use an app on your phone to make your shopping list, so you're less likely to forget it at home or in the car.
- Eat before you go shopping so you can focus on your purchases without having unnecessary cravings.
- Junk food cravings usually stop after about two weeks of eating a healthy diet.
- Try to reduce your intake of processed junk food (chips, cookies, breads, crackers).
- Make sure there aren't too many bad foods in your house that might tempt you. Give or throw away anything you shouldn't eat.
- Try to prepare your own seasonings rather than buying unhealthy sauces to season your dishes.
- Eat smaller portions using a smaller plate for your convenience.
- Rather than limiting foods, try to substitute them. If you like sweet cookies, eat sweet strawberries or blueberries instead. If you like crisps, try the unsalted popcorn. Think about all the foods you can eat, rather than focusing on the ones you should avoid.
- If you drink, limit your alcohol intake to 1 or 2 drinks per day.
- Stay away from junk food. It often contains high levels of sodium and saturated fat.