13 easy steps of how to start healthy eating for beginners
13 easy steps of how to start healthy eating for beginners. Being healthy has so many advantages. Healthy eating isn’t a diet nor depriving yourself of things you love. You’ll learn how to start healthy eating for beginners.
Table of Contents
13 easy steps of how to start healthy eating for beginners
How can you start healthy eating? Let’s make it clear for beginners.
What’s healthy eating? Healthy eating isn’t a temporary diet. It’s more about finding healthy ways to enjoy food with nutrition. Healthy eating involves choosing whole foods, avoiding processed foods, and creating a healthy approach to your intake.
Clean eating is a lifetime commitment to optimal health. Staying healthy is not just about food intake. You must have ALL the following:
- Healthy diet with balance and moderation
- Enough sleep
- Reducing stress
Check For Food Sensitivities
Before you start clean eating habits, it’s good to check food sensitivities. Many of us have undiagnosed food sensitivities that are negatively affecting our well-being. You can take an at-home test to see what yours are and set up your meal plans.
Benefits of healthy eating
- Drastically reducing potentials of health issues like heart disease and cancer
- Improving all aspects of life, both mentally and physically
- Healthy eating is easy to start unlike specific diets – even for beginners. The basic principals of healthy eating apply to a lot of diet methods like Keto diet and low protein diet.
Important keys for healthy eating
Portion control (controlling calorie intake) is the key to your weight management and health. It’s very simple – even for beginners.
The basic rules of calorie intake:
- If you put in more calories than you burn, you will store them as new muscle or body fat.
- If you consume fewer calories than you burn every day, you will lose weight.
But remember, not all the calories are equal. Eating 400 calories of chicken and 400 calories of a donut is not the same.
How much of each micronutrient (important vitamins and minerals) you should consume? It depends on the person – how you eat and your lifestyle. However, everybody needs micronutrients for the body to function.
Focus on 3 important macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fats, and vegetables (in the right amount).
Measure the portion size with your hand:
Men eat a bit more than women. For example, Men should eat 1-2 servings of protein while women take 1 serving.
Protein: 1 serving = Your palm. 4 oz (uncooked meat), 3 oz (cooked)
You can target anywhere from 80% to 100% of your body weight in pounds per gram of protein, with an upper limit of 250g.
- Men: 1-2 servings (6-8 oz or about 170-228 g): 2 palms
- Women: 1 serving (3-4 oz or about 85-114 g): 1 palm
Carbs: 1 serving = 1 cupped hand (uncooked) or 2 hands forming a cup (cooked). Target 1 serving.
Healthy Fats: 1 serving = 1 thumb, 1 oz or tablespoon. Target 1 serving.
Vegetables: 1 serving = Your fist, 1 cup (raw). Target 2 servings – it should take up 1/2 of the plate.
Balance diet: Micronutrients
For the body to function well, a balanced diet is extremely important for your success.
45 essential nutrients that your body needs but cannot produce itself
- 9 essential amino acids (proteins)
- 2 essential fatty acids (fats)
- 13 essential vitamins
- 20 essential minerals
- 1 essential carbohydrate (glucose)
Focus on 3 major micro-nutrients and add the rest:
- Carbohydrates: 4 calories per gram. Our body will burn as fuel. All starchy foods like bread, pasta rice, and potatoes, fruit, legumes, sugar and some dairy products.
- Protein: 4 calories per gram. Building blocks for our muscles. Meats, fish, dairy, eggs, legumes and vegetarian alternatives like tofu.
- Fats: 9 calories per gram. Fat can be burned as fuel, and also helps with nutrition absorption. Nuts, seeds, oils, avocado, butter, cheese, oily fish and fatty meat.
- Magnesium: for energy production, nervous system function and muscle contraction
- Potassium: for blood pressure control, fluid balance and the function of your muscles and nerves
- Iron: for carrying oxygen in the blood, improved immune and brain function
- Calcium: for bones, teeth, heart, muscles and nervous system
- All vitamins: from vitamin A to K, play important roles in your body.
Foods to Eat
Try to base your diet around these healthy food groups:
- Vegetables: These should play a fundamental role in most meals. They are low in calories yet full of important micronutrients and fiber.
- Fruits: provides micronutrients and antioxidants that can help improve health
- Meat and fish: protein sources.
- Nuts and seeds: fat and protein sources.
- Eggs: protein, beneficial fats, and micronutrients
- Dairy: yogurt and milk are convenient, low-cost sources of protein and calcium
- Healthy starches: For those who aren’t on a low-carb diet, whole food starchy foods like potatoes, quinoa, and Ezekiel bread are healthy and nutritious
- Beans and legumes: fiber, protein, and micronutrients
- Beverages: Water should be the majority of your fluid intake
- Herbs and spices: high in nutrients and beneficial plant compounds
Foods to Avoid
No food needs to be eliminated forever, but some foods should be limited or saved for special occasions.
- Sugar-based products: Foods high in sugar, especially sugary drinks, are linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes
- Trans fats (partially hydrogenated fats): trans fats have been linked to serious diseases like heart disease.
- Refined carbs: Foods that are high in refined carbs like white bread are linked to obesity and metabolic disease.
- Vegetable oils: While many people believe these are healthy, vegetable oils can disrupt your body’s omega 6-to-3 balance, which may cause problems.
- Processed low-fat products: Often disguised as healthy alternatives, low-fat products usually contain a lot of sugar to make them taste better.
13 easy steps: how to start healthy eating
Healthy eating isn’t as hard as you think and a lot cheaper than being a carnivore. I’ll show you how to start clean eating:
Drink a lot of water
Drinking water will not only keep you hydrated and allow your body to function well, it suppresses appetite. Drink water all day, every day. Water has zero calories!
If you’re bored with the tasteless water, add some sliced fruits like lemon. Adding lemon to water enhances the health benefits of drinking water.
But remember, eating too many fruits could add up its sugar intake. Smoothies and fruit juices (even if you did “juicing” from fresh fruits) could be high calories. So be cautious all the time.
Drinks to avoid: drinks contain full of sugars – soda, sports drinks, fruit juice, coffee drinks like the ones from Starbucks. Those contain way too much sugars.
Wake up earlier
Waking up earlier, have some cup of water, and eat breakfast. You need energy for the day.
Eat throughout the day
If you want to lose weight or to stay healthy, you should eat something small every few hours. Ideally, drink 2 glasses of water first thing in the morning. It makes you full and hydrates your body.
Eat breakfast, have some small snacks in a few hours, eat lunch, have some small snacks, then have dinner. Stop eating at 8 pm completely. I highly suggest that breakfast should be the biggest meal with high protein and cut the portions to dinner since you don’t need too many calories for sleep.
If you teach your body that you can get nutrition constantly throughout the day, the body starts taking fewer calories into the body. When you eat only once or twice, the body becomes “survival” mode and tries to store unnecessary calories in the body. That’s the reason why Sumo wrestlers eat only twice a day in order to gain weights on purpose. Eating once is a lot worse than eating 5-6 times a day.
You can drink water all day long – especially when you’re hungry. Make wise decisions for everything you eat: lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables in the right amounts.
Have always healthy snacks on hand
If you feel hungry, you should listen to your body and eat. But pick something healthier with whole foods.
Pantry: If you have too many foods in your house, you tend to eat more. So plan your meals for the week and don’t overstock them.
Chewing food more is beneficial. It makes your eating slower and feels fuller faster than gulping the food all quickly. Simple yet effective.
Stop eating when you’re 80% full
There’s the Japanese word “hara Hachi Bu” – “hara” means stomach/belly, “hachi” is eight and “bu” here is a portion in Japanese. It literally means “80% of the stomach”. It’s used to express – eat only 80% in full. It takes more time for the brain to understand the fullness of your stomach. If you continued to eat, you might overeat.
Cook your own food
The easiest way to control your intake is to cook your own food. You can control the amount and quality of ingredients, salt, sugar, flavors, and fats.
Cook with spices. Certain herbs and spices can add anti-inflammatory properties to any meal: turmeric, garlic, oregano, and ginger.
Make a meal plan every week – meal plans are essential for eating healthy. Start with dinners, and fill the rest – breakfast, lunch, and snacks.
Eat more whole foods
Whole foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, unsalted nuts/seeds, whole grains, full-fat dairy products, and dried beans/legumes.
Whole foods tend to have fewer calories and more nutrients and fibers per serving than processed foods. Processed foods have little nutritional value (“empty” calories). Eating them in large amounts leads to obesity and other diseases.
While whole foods are a lot harder to overeat than processed foods, you could eat them in excess. Calorie-dense foods such as cheese, nuts, and fatty meats are healthy but have higher calories. “Portion control” is the key to manage calorie intake!
Make a habit of eating whole foods, natural, unprocessed foods (containing only one ingredient) at least 80-90% of the time. Half of the plate you eat should be vegetables.
KNOW THE SEASON
It’s good to know the seasonal produce because its nutrients are at the peak and its price is the cheapest.
Spring: asparagus, avocados, baby spinach, beets, bok choy, broccoli, carrots, celery, grapefruit, lettuce, onions, oranges, peas, radishes, rhubarb, and strawberries.
Summer: blueberries, cherries, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, mustard greens, peaches, peppers, snap peas, swiss chard, tomatoes, watermelon, and zucchini.
Fall: Apples, cabbage, cauliflower, grapes, pears, and squash.
Winter: Brussels sprouts, leeks, sweet potatoes, and turnips. Get frozen fruit and vegetables for the rest.
Read the nutrition labels
For healthy eating, you must get familiar with nutrition labels (No worries, I’ll cover those a lot in my blog) and macronutrients (I mentioned above). The labels will tell you everything you need to know about the foods you’re considering eating.
If you are beginners at healthy eating, follow these:
- Look for labels with relatively few ingredients.
- Look for labels with “whole grains” and “whole wheat” in the ingredients.
- Keep sodium levels as low as possible – your body only needs 250 mg each day to function.
- Avoid foods with labels that include terms like “hydrolyzed,” or “modified,” (means “processed”)
- Avoid food with terms ending in “-ose” (means “added sugars”).
- If the food is high in calories, make sure the saturated fat and sugar levels are low. Additionally, the calories should come from fiber and lean proteins.
Limit sugars, salt, and added fat
Eating junk food and processed foods with too much sugar, salt, additives, and fats lead to the epic of obesity and other health issues in the US. You need to avoid those from your intake if you want to be healthy.
Eat fruits, if you want something sweet. If you’re thirsty, drink water with fruits like lemon and strawberry. Cutting those foods is one of the quickest way to lose weight dramatically.
Avoid processed foods
Processed foods are high in added sugars and salt, low in fiber and whole grains, and high in fat (trans fats and saturated fats).
Processed foods include frozen dinners, snacks (fruit snacks, chips), candy, cookies, cereal, canned soups, bacon, and flavored nut. So, start making your own items using whole foods instead. It’ll be tastier, healthier, and cheaper.
Eliminate distractions while eating
You must focus on eating without your phone, TV, or computer. Otherwise, you can’t feel the fullness and you might overeat.
Take care of your gut flora
Avoid antibiotics and eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, or kefir.
On top of healthy eating
Now you know how to eat healthily with a balanced diet. To stay healthy, not only you eat healthily, but also do things more to promotes the benefits of your healthy eating:
Exercise benefits both physically and mentally. Burning more calories on top of healthy eating would help you to lose weight and stay healthy.
- Enough sleep
Sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions. Getting enough sleep is extremely important for your health.
- Go outside
Get some sunlight to get natural Vitamin D in your body.
- Heal your gut
Your gut is also called your second brain because your gut health is very closely related to your mental health. Eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, or kefir or take probiotic supplements help to heal your gut and introduce more healthy bacteria to your microbiome. Also, be careful with antibiotic use.
- Reducing stress
Eliminate the causes of stress and breathe deeply. Get a massage. Meditate to reduce anxiety and calm your nervous system.
Conclusion: Healthy eating should be fun and rewarding. More nutrition, energy, eco-friendly, less calories - healthier life style. Healthy eating shouldn't be difficult both for beginners and healthy eaters. Also it's important to add exercise so that you can burn calories and eat well. Eat well and stay healthy!
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