Eating healthy for some means having chicken, rice, and veg out of a tupperware container… every day. For other people, it’ll be a vegan version with quinoa, beans, and maybe some weird looking seeds. There’s a common misconception that healthy eating means eating food with no taste or flavor. It’s boring. A diet that’s hard to stick to. It’s not worth the effort, right?
Wrong. Healthy food is good for your body and your mind. And here’s a secret: it doesn’t need to be boring because when it is, it’s likely you’ll give up. Fad diets don’t help either, as a lot of these will demand you cut out certain food groups (typically carbs, sugar, or alcohol). But giving up these things isn’t realistic, so it’s useless if you want to make long term changes.
Fortunately, there is another way. Check out our 6 tips to eating healthy whilst still enjoying your food:
1. Experiment in the kitchen
When you’re starting on a healthy eating journey, it’s the perfect time to brush up on your cooking skills. Pick up some recipe books or research online for your favorite meals and learn how to make them yourself.
Experiment with different cuisines, recipes, spices, and sauces. You could even try recreating your go-to meals from restaurants and making your version which you may even like better! By preparing food yourself, you’ll know exactly what’s going into your food and avoid the nasties. And cooking doesn’t have to be a chore – why not try buddying up with a friend or partner, or cooking for each other once or twice a week?
2. Buy healthy food
Eating healthy starts with the food you have in the house. Embrace the joy of meal planning every week and buy your ingredients ahead of time. This makes you less likely to pick up unhealthy food ‘just in case’. Stock up on fresh fruit and veg and healthy snacks to avoid reaching for convenience food.
The less unhealthy food you have at home and the more you plan your meals, the less likely you’ll be to get a midweek takeaway or go out to eat on the spur of the moment. Easy on the bank balance too.
3. Use the 80/20 rule
No food should be off-limits. Diets that tell you to cut out certain food groups don’t work long term. Be sensible by starting with the 80/20 rule. 80% of your weekly food should come from real, unprocessed foods. This gives you 20% worth of freedom – so if you want to save a treat for Saturday night, or have a couple of beers, then go for it. Finding balance is the key to success.
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4. Focus on how you feel after eating
Food should nourish your body and give it what it needs. Ask yourself this: how do you feel after you’ve eaten something healthy compared to when you’ve eaten something unhealthy? How do you feel at the time, and how do you feel afterward? Do you have more energy, are you in a better mood? Eating healthy helps us more than we realize.
5. Don’t stress about being perfect
When it comes to eating healthy, you don’t need to be perfect all the time. There will be days when you slip up, and eat a whole pizza to yourself. That’s okay. Let it go, and get back on track the next day. We’re humans, and we make mistakes. The last thing we can do here is to beat ourselves up and let this one day of eating unhealthily turn into 3, 5, or 7.
6. Find healthier substitutes for your favorite foods, instead of giving them up completely
There’s almost always a healthier alternative available for your favorite foods. If you’re a fan of potato fries, try baking your potato wedges with olive oil instead of getting takeaway. If you have a craving for something sweet after a meal, try having your favorite fruit or a piece of dark chocolate. This way you can still enjoy your favorite foods without the guilt. Once you’ve uncovered the strategies that work for you, stick to them.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring. By using these 6 tips on how to eat healthily and enjoy food, you’re well on your way. Experimenting with different food and recipes is the key to making the journey fun for you. Think of your healthy eating journey as a challenge.
Focus on how you feel at the time of eating healthy, and if things don’t go well one day, remember, there’s always the next. Beating yourself up doesn’t help anyone. Keep an open mind as you try different foods and eating healthy will be a breeze. Bon appetit.