Eating healthy is one of those things that you know you should do, but that can also seem so overwhelming if you don’t know where to start or what to do. Understanding not only how but why you should eat better may help to motivate you.
Diet and Exercise
Of course, diet and exercise go hand in hand. If you eat better, when you participate in physical activity, such as cardio kickboxing, your body will perform better. It may help you to think of your body as a machine. Like any machine, in order to perform its best, you have to maintain it. You change the oil in your car when the manufacturer deems it necessary for optimal performance; you should consider maintaining your body in the same manner. Unlike a car, your body will still perform even if you don’t feed or fuel it properly. Granted, it will not be at peak performance, but it will still run.
Whole Foods vs Processed
A good place to start on your quest to eat healthier is by paying attention to what types of foods you’re eating. A “whole food” is something you eat that is made up of only a single ingredient. They are natural foods and have not been processed. Ideally, these are the types of food that should make up 80-90% of your diet. Whole foods are naturally full of essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, proteins and fiber.
On the other hand, processed foods are those which are manufactured. They often have additives and low nutritional value. Processed foods are largely responsible for weight gain and obesity and are typically referred to as eating empty calories.
In short, trade your regular go-to from the ready meal you pull out of the freezer to fresh fruits and vegetables and supplement with whole grains.
A great approach to improving your eating habits is to make sure you have healthy foods on hand. If you keep healthy foods in your home and visible, you are more likely to eat them. Typically, people tend to eat what they have readily available and what catches their eye. The key to your success is to be prepared. For food prep: fill your refrigerator with cooked meats and vegetables. Prepare fruits and healthy carbs such as quinoa or whole grains and portion them so all you have to do is reach in the fridge when you’re hungry.
Keep a stocked fruit bowl on your counter; you are more likely to eat healthier if you see healthy options available to you. Have a jar with dried fruit or nuts such as pistachios or almonds. When stocking your pantry, keep healthy options at eye level. As a whole, you tend to eat what is in your immediate sight, so set yourself up for success.
Outer Ring Shopping
While you are learning which foods you should be trying to eat and those you should be trying to avoid, outer ring shopping is a good place to start. The basic premise of such shopping is pretty straightforward; typically, grocery stores are laid out so fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat are placed on the perimeter of the store. These are the whole foods that you want to be the majority of the food you consume. The aisles, in contrast to the perimeter, are where you will typically find processed foods that you should try to avoid as much as possible.
Eating better doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Be prepared. Eat whole foods.
Drink more water and less sugary drinks. Changing your diet is a huge accomplishment; by taking small steps in the right direction you’ll get there!