A healthy and delicious breakfast

When it comes to healthy lifestyle habits, healthy food habits are your first line of defense. Choosing the wrong food meal after meal not only packs on the pounds, it also gets you addicted to eating junk.

Fortunately, these healthy eating habits are simple and effective for changing the way you approach food and life in general.

Ready for the countdown? Let’s go!

Contents

25. Keep a Food Diary      

If you don’t know what you’re eating, how will you know what needs to change? Starting a food diary will open your eyes to what you’re consuming. It may also inspire you to take more drastic measures, once you realize how many calories you’re putting away without thinking about it.

Going a step further, you can count calories, macronutrients (protein, fat, carbs) and micronutrients to see how your intake stacks up. Odds are, you’re not getting the right kind of nutrition to keep your body properly fueled.

24. Drink More Water      

You already know that your body is about 60 percent water. But what other reasons are there for consuming large amounts of the flavorless liquid? According to Greatist, the benefits of drinking more water go beyond fluid balance.

Other benefits of drinking more water:

  • You consume fewer calories if you fill up with water
  • Muscles use water during your workout, so more water reduces fatigue
  • Water washes out toxins and can reduce your chances of getting acne
  • H2O flushes the kidneys out, getting rid of what you don’t need
  • More water keeps your digestive system flowing

23. Always Eat Breakfast      

If you skip breakfast because you’re in a hurry or you just don’t feel hungry, you’re making a mistake. Eating breakfast jump starts your metabolism, letting your body know it will have enough fuel to last through the day, Rush explains.

Eating first thing in the morning also correlates with higher calcium and fiber intake and lower fat consumption. Kids in school show better academic performance on a full stomach, too. Stop and think about what that means for us adults trying to muddle through daily life on an empty stomach.

22. Focus on Lunch      

A modest breakfast will get you going, but it’s lunch that should catch your attention the most. Give yourself the freedom to fill up at lunchtime, then enjoy a light dinner later in the evening. One writer at Prevention ate a large lunch every day for a month, and her findings echoed what today’s research has highlighted.

As that writer found, eating a large lunch helps prevent midday fatigue, encourages a lighter dinner, and helps regulate blood sugar and hormones. She even slept better and felt more energetic, although weight loss didn’t come easily with this trick alone.

21. Start Reading Labels      

If you usually shop the grocery store shelves without reading the packages you’re grabbing, you’re in for a surprise. Many shelf products have added ingredients that are unhealthy and even off-putting once you understand the scientific jargon on the label.

Avoiding products with preservatives, artificial dyes, extra sodium, and added sugar keeps that toxic sludge out of your system. Passing on prepackaged food can also help slim down your waistline.

Pro Tip: “Low fat” often means “high sugar”. Pay extra attention to labels for low fat foods.

20. Eat Close to Nature      

It’s hard to go wrong when you stick with whole foods. Steak and eggs might be calorific, but they’re also ultra-filling and nutritionally dense.

Vegetables (especially green vegetables) are packed with nutrients, keep you fuller with fiber, and are low calorie to boot. And fruits are better than candy.

Above all, when you eat close to nature, it’s almost impossible to overindulge. Try this experiment and see for yourself: for one day, eat only chicken breast, steak, eggs and green vegetables. By the time you get to 2,000 calories, more food will be the last thing on your mind!

Strawberries...so many strawberries!

19. Taste a Rainbow of Food      

We always hear that eating all different colors of fruit and vegetables is a smart idea. But why? Each hue of fruit and veggie has a unique combination of nutrients. By sampling a little of each, we’re working toward a complete nutritional profile.

For example, leafy green vegetables like kale are rich in vitamins A, C, and K. They also contain iron and calcium. Red fruits and vegetables, however, provide not only vitamins A and C, but also manganese. Plus, if you’re filling up on veggies, you’re less likely to overeat in other food groups.

18. Set Aside Snacks      

How often do we walk into our kitchens and open the fridge, feeling peckish but not quite sure what we want to snack on? You can eliminate this typically high-calorie endeavor by preparing healthy snacks ahead of time.

Whether you slice vegetables or bag up a serving of pretzels, setting aside snacks keeps you from foraging between mealtimes. It also helps you focus on calorie and nutrient needs, rather than grabbing whatever is nearest.

17. Hone in on Habits      

Making healthy food habits stick requires a commitment to making small changes each day. The good news is, you can train yourself (and your brain) to follow new routines and adhere to healthier principles.

Whether you need to get more exercise, more sleep, or more calories, making that activity part of your daily routine means it’s a non-negotiable part of the calendar. Over time, routines become habits, and you’ll have healthier habits without effort.

16. Try New Things      

Life is too short to pass up a chance to try something new. That applies to both food and fitness, as there’s potential for you to stumble across something you truly enjoy that you would never have experienced before.

Take a small taste of that unidentifiable vegetable or venture into that new spinning class. The worst-case scenario is you don’t like it, and then you move on to the next exciting adventure.

15. Start with the Greens      

Eating your vegetables first helps fill you up so that you don’t go back for second helpings of fried food or calorie-dense snacks. While fruit should come after the vegetables, it’s still preferable to starting a meal off with savory or heavy food.

The fiber in vegetables (and fruit) is what will signal your brain that your stomach is getting full, and you’ll feel full longer if you opt for a plate of veg rather than less filling food.

14. Pay Attention to Your Plate       

When you’re out at a restaurant or sitting next to family at dinner, it’s often difficult to concentrate on your meal. However, mindfulness at the dinner (and breakfast, and lunch) table is one of the healthy lifestyle habits that researchers cite as the next big thing.

Being mindful includes being aware of the smell, taste, and texture of your food as you eat it. Try not to rush as you eat, and make sure to chew each bite thoroughly. It may feel silly at first but paying more attention to your plate makes you more aware of eating as a process.

13. Use Fewer Additives       

Adding extra sugar is a no-no when you’re trying to live healthier. But so is adding salt or cooking with too much oil.

The American Heart Association warns against consuming too much saturated fat, and lower levels correlate with better heart health. Using less oil, sugar, and salt are all important healthy food habits.

Learn to cook and soon you'll be this awesome with a frying pan!

12. Learn to Cook      

If you eat out often, there’s so much temptation to stray from your healthy eating plan. There’s also the fact that restaurants serve massive portion sizes. An article on WBUR explained that while the average meal should be 700 calories or less, restaurants are serving up an average of 134 extra calories per meal.

Cooking at home means you control your plate, and you’re less likely to pile on additional servings. You also decide what ratio of fruits and vegetables your plate has, which isn’t an option at most restaurants.

11. Make Healthy Treats      

Learn to make healthy treats for a super fun addition to your cooking repertoire. Although French fries and apple pies are off the menu, there’s no reason why you can’t start making healthier, equally tasty alternatives. So, get baking!

10. Indulge Occasionally      

While consuming less jook food is a very good thing, you don’t have to pass on it entirely. You don’t have to be a food puritan to be a healthy eater.

As long as you enjoy treats occasionally and within reasonable limits, it won’t affect your long-term health goals. On the contrary, if you have a scheduled cheat meal to look forward to, it can do wonders for keeping you on track the rest of the time.

9. Recognize Proper Portion Sizes      

It’s a lost cause when you’re at a restaurant unless you’re willing to take a doggy bag home. But when you prepare your meals, know your portion sizes. If you are baffled when it comes to how to measure a serving of any one food item, WebMD offers a printable guide to help you meet your goals.

For reference, your plate should contain half vegetables, one-fourth protein, and one-fourth starches like whole grains. Soon, you won’t need a guide, and picking appropriate portion sizes will become a habit.

8. Meal Prep at Home      

Your favorite fitness blogger probably posts delicious snapshots of their meal prep, but is it attainable for the rest of us? The truth is, meal prep can help you save time, money, and calories. Set aside the time to bulk prep meals, and enjoy healthy and nutritious servings all week long.

7. Eat Out with a Plan      

Know that on your journey toward healthy food habits, you’ll encounter plenty of resistance. Restaurants are a big challenge for many people. Look up menus ahead of time to scope out healthy options or consider eating beforehand if you’re meeting friends or family for drinks.

Alternatively, order from the kids’ menu or select from healthy appetizer or side options. Making your own dish from what’s on the menu gives you control over your portions and calories.

Knife and fork - use them mindfully

6. Banish Buffet Bloat      

You might think that a buffet is the worst place to flex your healthy eating power, but that doesn’t have to be true. Most buffets offer fresh salad options as the bare minimum, but you can also find lean meats, cooked vegetables, and often fresh fruit. Focus on these and pass on the bad stuff.

5. Get Organized      

Planning is crucial for establishing healthy lifestyle habits, but you don’t have to schedule every minute of your day. Make a plan for how you’ll go about your eating and exercise goals and keep it in a visible place or refer to it often.

This could include sketching out meal plans for the week, making up a schedule for gym time, or planning physical activity outings with friends. When you opt to “just wing it”, you’re more likely to let life’s roadblocks get in the way, so get organized and keep moving.

4. Scope Out Sizes      

While getting portion sizes right may come down to dividing up your plate, you might also want to invest in a handy set of measuring cups and spoons. While you’re at it, pick up a food scale too.

The idea is to teach yourself what a suitable serving size is, and what better way than to practice daily as you prepare meals? Keep an eye on sizing, and after a while, you’ll be able to eyeball measurements without that tablespoon.

3. Tell on Yourself      

No, you shouldn’t confess every time you sneak a piece of chocolate or skip leg day. But letting family and friends know that you’re embarking on a program of lifestyle changes helps boost the support you’ll receive.

Social support helps us feel better about ourselves and our goals, but it doesn’t have to stop with your close friends or your roommate. Online social support is just as useful in helping you reach your lifestyle goals and weight loss targets, the International Journal of Medical Informatics found.

Share with a friend and you can help lift each other up

2. Share with a Friend      

This concept works with both substantial restaurant-sized plates of food and fitness endeavors. Sharing with a friend gives you something to bond over, but it also increases the chances that you’ll both stick with your new healthier habits.

While studies have shown that having negative friends and family can hurt your healthy lifestyle habits, other studies highlight the potential for supportive friends to impact your goals positively. Research shows that having friends who participate, too, increases both of your chances at success, Lawrence Memorial Hospital explains.

1. Forgive Yourself      

No one is perfect and changing your lifestyle won’t happen overnight. Be prepared to show yourself tough love, of course, but keep in mind that you are your primary support system. That means you have to live with a little compassion.

It’s not fun to fail, but challenges only defeat us if we let them. Be your own advocate and keep moving forward, even with slip-ups along the way. It takes time to make healthy habits stick, so it’s okay if you don’t get it right the first time (or the second, or third). What matters is not giving up.

Conclusion

Overall, paying attention to what, how, and when you eat creates healthy eating habits that will serve you well for life. Integrating these changes into your daily routine will not only make healthy eating second nature, it’ll be fun too!