Here are some simple and (somewhat) easy to follow healthy food tips. Finding healthy foods to eat takes more planning and commitment than eating whatever crap happens to be in front of you at the moment.
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But eating healthy will keep you healthier - within reason ;-)
Green, leafy vegetables are healthy no matter what your diet is. I've rarely seen a criticism of them, and I like including them in my diet as well.
If your goal is weight loss, veggies have pretty few calories. And they help bulk up your diet with fiber, making you feel a little more full.
If you just want to get "healthier," veggies have lots of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Mmmmm… tasty!
And just remember that vegetables don't have to be the limp broccoli and brussel sprout horrors you ate as a child. Asparagus brushed with olive oil, a big salad with meat or fruit toppings, and artichokes with sour cream are tasty ways to eat healthy veggies.
It's much easier to control what you eat if you cook your own meals. If you wait 'till you're hungry to see what's to eat, or what you can forage for while driving home… you won't eat healthy.
Cooking your own meals is one of the best healthy food tips because you become responsible for the amount of food and the type of food you eat. Eat out less, especially at fast 'food' joints.
It's easy to eat a lot of food if it's all ready to eat. But much harder if, at the end of your meal and are still feeling a little peckish, to rally the motivation to start cooking a whole new steak…
With the exception of fruits and vegetables, which are always ready to eat, do NOT buy stuff you can just put in the microwave. If you force yourself to spend time cooking you'll eat just what you cook - and no more.
Anything that once walked, swam, flew, or grew is considered natural. These foods are normally arranged around the outside of the grocery store, and have minimal packaging.
When you're asking, "What foods are healthy?", think colorful fruits, fluffy green vegetables, fresh fish, grass-fed meat, wild game, un-salted nuts, and tubers…
The more it doesn't look like it once grew, the worse it is. An apple grew, but apple pie didn't! Even bread is a step or two away from pure, fresh food. Though much better than an energy bar.
And the corollary to this is...
Do you really need me to tell you this?
If you know in your heart (or gut) that something you've chosen to eat is crap, don't eat it. This covers cakes, refined sugars, chicken McNuggets, diet drinks, and other food-like substances.
Of all the healthy food tips, this is one of the most important and easiest to follow.
Though, for your birthday or Christmas or another special time I say - indulge. If you eat healthy 90% of the time (and even dark chocolate has some health benefits), you'll be able to give in to your sweet tooth when it counts.
This is a surprisingly useful skill, and one that I neglected for a long time. It goes well with #7, counting your calories for a few weeks.
Reading food labels will give you a sense of how much you're eating, and what you're eating is made of. Expect to be surprised by how much high-fructose corn syrup and sugars are in basically anything packaged.
This increased awareness of how much fat, carbs, and protein are in your diet will tell you just what you're eating. And how much you're eating.
Count the calories of everything that you eat for 1 - 2 weeks. Even better than just learning how to read food labels, this will really show you how much you're eating and of what.
The first time I went on a diet I was horrendously surprised how well I could function on such little food. True, I was dieting, but even a normal level of food intake was much less that what I had been getting. And I didn't feel nearly as starved to be on the diet as I thought I would.
Trying this for even a short period of time is really eye opening. Try calculating your base metabolic rate and eat just within that for a few weeks - yes, try it!
Don't just eat because you're feeling a little hungry. Or because it's dinner time. Or because that mascarpone on the menu looks delicious.
If you workout and exercise a lot, eat to fuel your exercise. If you want to lose weight, eat (or not) to lost weight.
If you have an objective in mind when you're eating, it will guide how much you eat and what you eat better than any healthy food tips. And it will work much better than your taste buds and stomach.
People (especially me!) are notoriously good at eating more than they think they are eating, or need to.
Rather than changing slowly, make the decision to start following these healthy food tips NOW. Throw out your crap 'food' and buy healthy stuff tomorrow.
I think that people who try to change slowly, at least in diet, give themselves too much leeway. It's better to make a clean break with your resolve and enthusiasm strong, rather than wishy-washing around for day or weeks.
Anything you buy, you will eat. That is a golden rule.
So, don't buy what you know you shouldn't eat. This is one of those startlingly simple healthy food tips that has a lot of truth behind it.
Yes, try fasting once in a while. Give your digestive system a rest.
Many people talk about eating 6 small meals a day. Hell, I've even talked about that - and it's what I used to do.
But, I've been branching out. And really, there's a lot of fun new research about intermittent fasting these days - and about how you won't destroy your metabolism just by skipping a meal or two.
So, try fasting once in a while. It can be weird at first, but a fun healthy food thing to try.
Grab strange and colorful veggies and fruits at the grocery store. Starfruit and coconuts are great to start with, but really branch out.
And try new spices and herbs. American cooking is either salty or sweet - try other flavors like cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, cumin, and maybe some sage.
Health food doesn't have to be bland salads every day. You can really enjoy some new tastes while eating healthy - and make it fun so that you stick with it long term!
Sweet beverages are a great way to get extra calories into your system and get fat. Yes, really.
So avoid sweet teas, sodas, fruit juices, milk, and anything else that's mostly water and sugar. It won't make you feel any more full, and it'll just go into fat unless you're exercising regularly.
Eat less of everything. Even if you eat nothing but sustainable-organically-grown-free-range-hand-reared-and-loved fruits and animals and follow these healthy food tips, if you eat too much you will gain weight. Eating (less) healthy foods to lose weight still takes discipline.
Just follow these healthy food tips to start eating better. And your body will start feeling different (and better!) - this is why nutrition is important.
And make the change now: don't wait till a better time comes along to follow these healthy food tips - 'cause one won't!
Oh, and be sure to sign up for the e-zine Starting Strong to get monthly strength training, exercise, and diet tips e-mailed to you - and access to the free e-book Train Smart, Eat Smart: Exercise Nutrition Hacks!
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