Do you want to start eating healthier but it all seems overwhelming? You’ve probably got a lot of questions running through your head – should you try a diet like keto, paleo, vegan? Should you do a cleanse? What foods will help you lose weight? What foods will give you the best health?
These questions are valid in an ever confusing world of health, but I often find that the best place to start is to keep things simple.
Inside this post, you’ll find an overview of healthy eating and some easy steps for you to get started with.
It doesn’t matter what age you are or what background you’re coming from – you can always make changes to your health.
For most of us, we see people doing something that we want to achieve – and we think to ourselves, “How will I ever get there? I’ve got so far to go!” This usually stops us in our tracks from going after our big goals.
I can relate to this, the big goals can be hard – they take time and they take work. And if you let yourself be overwhelmed by the big picture, it’s much easier to avoid doing it in the first place.
But here’s the big secret about these goals… divide your big goal into smaller tasks that are manageable and realistic to do daily. When you start doing them you’ll get closer to your bigger goals that seem more intimidating.
I’m a big believer in taking baby steps with goals. Start small – it’s much more realistic than giving yourself a humongous goal. This method has worked well in my own life and I hope it will for you too!
As soon as I figured this out, everything changed. I was able to lose the baby weight that I wanted to lose. And I even used this method to start my own business, and I never looked back. So I hope this tip will help you to start eating healthier as often it’s the overwhelm of getting started that holds us back in the first place.
THE BEGINNERS GUIDE TO EATING HEALTHY
01. START MAKING HOMEMADE MEALS
For many families in North America, fast food dinners have become routine due to lack of time and energy in the evening. But unfortunately, these types of foods are full of the wrong ingredients that you want to fuel your family with. Preservatives and chemicals and processed ingredients are all tied to a variety of symptoms including mood swings, weight gain, depression, lack of concentration, and can affect the sleep cycle (1).
Another side effect of eating fast food regularly is that it can create picky eaters. These kinds of fast foods are basically created in a lab to taste delicious. And for our brain, it’s hard to differentiate why we can’t eat french fries all day when they taste so good (if we’re used to it) and should eat broccoli instead.
Now before I go any further I should say this, I’m not against eating these foods from time to time. And I’m also not here to give you a guilt trip. You’re a good mom and you work hard!
And as a health coach, yes my family has pizza nights, and my daughter eats french fries and cookies. But she also eats kale and broccoli. I believe healthy eating is all about balance, not extremes.
What does it mean to eat healthy family meals? It is important to understand as we talk about healthy family meals that you have a realistic understanding of the word “healthy”.
Most of the wellness industry these days is all about extremes. When we think about healthy eating, it’s common to think that you need to completely avoid sugar, fats, and carbohydrates, and only eat steamed vegetables.
This type of “dieting” isn’t what we’re focusing on here.
Instead, I recommend to my clients that they focus on eating REAL food and introducing a variety of natural ingredients into their diet. This means, making home-cooked meals, and avoiding packaged or processed foods whenever possible.
RELATED POST: 6 Tricks For Healthier Family Meals
02. LEARN TO READ FOOD LABELS
To be able to tell what foods are healthier for you, you need to start reading the ingredients label on everything you buy.
The key here is that you want to be able to understand the words you’re reading. If they sound like real food ingredients and names you recognize, then that’s a good sign that you’ve found real food. BUT if there are more chemical names or sugar than anything else, then that’s processed food.
The second thing I want you to start looking at on an ingredients label is the grams of sugar. The World Health Organization recommends that you eat no more than 6 teaspoons a day of sugar, which equals about 24 grams. But the average North American is consuming 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, about 88 grams of sugar, which is a HUGE difference!
Once you start reading the food labels, you’ll quickly learn that almost everything has too much sugar! So, one of my biggest tips is to try to limit the number of processed foods your purchase at the grocery store. Instead, make more things at home from scratch!
03. EAT PROTEIN AND FATS AT EVERY MEAL
Eating a protein or healthy fat with each meal will help to control your blood sugar and keep it from rising or falling too quickly. They will also help you feel fuller longer.
*One great healthy fat to try and incorporate daily are avocados.
04. CUT BACK ON SUGARY DRINKS
Beverages like specialty coffee drinks or soda pop can make up a big amount of your daily sugar intake. Many people that consume sugary drinks daily aren’t drinking enough water. And too much sugar has been linked to weight gain and obesity.(1)
If you’re one of these people, try focusing more on sipping more glasses of water or tea throughout the day. Also, a great tip is to trade in your normal sodas for something carbonated without sugar like La Croix Sparkling Water.
05. COOK A LARGE POT OF GRAINS AND STORE IT IN THE FRIDGE
In my own house, our weekly dinners consist of a base of either grain or beans. Over time, I’ve found that cooking a big pot of grains saves time and can be used in a variety of meals throughout the day (we’ve even had quinoa porridge for breakfast and it’s delicious!) These foods are great because they’re easy to use and incorporate into a variety of dishes. Plus, they’re affordable!
Some of my favorite bases for easy dinner recipes include:
- BROWN RICE: Brown rice is a nutritious, whole-grain food that is low in calories and easy to add to many dishes. We love brown rice in our family and eat it once or twice a week, including stir-frys, casseroles, and salads.
- QUINOA: Quinoa is often referred to as a “superfood” and is a great ingredient to add to almost every meal! Use as a base to make a quick buddha bowl for lunch, a mac n cheese alternative, inside a wrap, sprinkle it in your salads or eat it for breakfast instead of oatmeal. Did you know that quinoa is a seed and not a grain? If you have any sensitivities to grains in your family, then quinoa might be a good alternative.
- BROWN RICE PASTA: Brown rice pasta is very affordable and works great in a variety of dishes. You can certainly use any type of pasta that you like, but we have a gluten allergy in our family and prefer this one for that reason.
- LENTILS: Lentils tend to be easier to digest than some of the larger beans. I love lentils because they’re an easy and healthy toddler food! If I put a bowl of lentils sprinkled with a bit of sea salt in from of my daughter, she’ll happily eat them. I tend to add a spoonful to my lunch bowls, salads, wraps. They also work great in slow cooker soups.