When you’re just getting started making healthier food choices, it can be hard to know what to believe and what you should do. That’s why today I’m dishing out the healthy eating secrets every beginner really needs to know. I remember how confusing it felt was first starting out. I wanted to make better choices, but didn’t know what those should be. It felt like everyone was telling me something different…
Carbs are bad…no actually you need carbs…meat is super healthy…no actually eating meat is terrible for you…sugar is the devil…actaully a little sugar is no big deal…and on and on it went.
If this is where you’re at, its time to tune out all the noise and focus on creating a strong foundation for your new lifestyle that will be sustainable long term. If you want to figure out all the nuances of nutrition science and go down that rabbit hole, you can. I just recommend putting it off until you’ve mastered the basics and created a healthy lifestyle that you enjoy.
To make that happen, there are a few “secrets” that you must first learn and adopt into your routine. Once you do, you’ll have a baseline of healthy habits that you can build on as you see fit.
6 Healthy Eating Secrets Every Beginner Needs to Know
Ready to learn 6 healthy eating secrets every beginner needs to know?
Perfect! Let’s dive in…
Secret #1 – Just because it seems healthy doesn’t mean that it is
Things are not always how they appear in the food industry. That especially applies to health claims on food labels. Buzz words like all natural, organic, low-fat, sugar-free, probiotic, gluten-free, non-GMO, and superfood are often used to catch the health-conscious consumer’s eye. But unless you’ve assessed the nutrition facts for yourself, you can’t really trust the labeling on food products.
That’s why it’s crucial to learn the skill of reading food labels so you know what you’re actually looking at. A few easy rules of thumb I like to go buy when making purchasing decisions in the grocery store are:
- stick to foods with less than 7-ish grams of sugar per serving
- avoid buying things made with refined vegetable oils
- avoid buying things with artificial ingredients or additives
You don’t have to follow my shopping rules, but I do think it’s important to set some standards. Even if it’s as simple as making the decision not to buy thing at the grocery store that you don’t recognize the ingredients on. That one rule helped me start waking up to all the crazy, unnatural ingredients that were in my food…which resulted in me changing the way I ate and shopped forever!
If you care about avoiding the potentially harmful effects of artificial ingredients/additives, start learning how to read food labels. Don’t trust that food companies that seem to be health conscious are always what they appear.
Secret #2 – You don’t have to eat it just because it’s “healthy”
I used to think eating healthy was basically just eating salads, smoothies, and roasted veggies and maybe some fruit for dessert. Thankfully, I started to branch out and found a new love for creating delicious, healthy recipes.
It started when I realized that I can ALWAYS make a healthier version of any meal for myself at home. Usually it tastes just as good, if not better. Even if you don’t enjoy cooking, you can find brands making healthier versions of your favorite foods too.
Pro Tip – My favorite place to shop for healthier products is ThriveMarket.com. With their online membership you can save up to 30% on organic, healthy food products. If you want to shop their website, use this link for an extra 40% off your first order…you can thank me later!
The bottom line is that you can only force feed yourself dry salads and green smoothies for so long…if you don’t like salads and smoothies, your will power will eventually ware off. You’ll start wishing you could eat food you actually like. Forcing yourself into a lifestyle change this way will never work long-term. It has to be something you enjoy OR something you can learn to enjoy for the benefits it brings you.
For example, when I first started working in a corporate office environment I didn’t love eating salads. However, I wanted to pack my lunches and salads were the quickest thing to prepare, so that’s what I ate every day. Overtime I started noticing how great I felt after lunch each day. I was clear and energized in the afternoons instead of sluggish and foggy. I stayed full all afternoon and felt great knowing I was getting my greens in and making a healthy choice. Eventually, I started loving my daily salads and actually craving them on days when I didn’t have one!
So, my advice is to start experimenting in the kitchen and finding healthy meals and snacks you actually like. But don’t be afraid to try new healthy options even if you don’t think you’ll love them…you might surprise yourself!
Secret #3 – Every meal should include some protein, fat, and fiber
You can spend a lot of time researching how to eat healthy, what to eat for weight loss, what’s the best diet plan, etc. Allow me to save you the time and just summarize everything that you will find into one simple rule: Each of your meals should include some form of protein, healthy fat and fiber.
These are the 3 major nutrients that are essential for the body to maintain good function. Under eating any of these three things can create health problems including fatigue, skin problems, hormone imbalance, poor-gut health, and a lack of satiety or increase in cravings.
So you might be wondering what actually counts as a protein, a healthy fat and a fiber? Like, what does that really mean? While I could try to give you a list foods for each category, the best thing for you to do is learn how to figure it out for yourself. Do your own research and start reading the nutrition labels on your food.
More than likely, you already know a few of your favorite foods that fall into each category. If so, you can start creating meals by making different combinations of your favorite foods. This combination of nutrients will keep you satisfied and your blood-sugar stable for long periods of time.
Secret #4 – Your water bottle should be your sidekick
I feel like this tips is rather obvious, but it’s so crucial that is MUST be said. Healthy people drink water, plain and simple. They don’t drink their calories. Drinking your calories puts you on the straight train to overconsumption town. Why? Because high-calorie drinks trick you into thinking you’re consuming less calories than you actually are.
If water isn’t your drink of choice right now, start increasing your water intake. Find a big water bottle and bring it with you everywhere – don’t leave the house without it. When water is the most convenient beverage, you’ll naturally start upping your intake without really having to try.
Another tip that has worked wonders for myself and my clients is to set water goals for each part of your day. Start off with just one goal of drinking 32oz of water every morning before having any coffee or food. You’ll be surprised how much more alert and awake you feel in the mornings after fully hydrating your cells.
Once you’ve mastered that habit, then create another water goal to hit each day before lunch. Then you can add another water goal to reach every afternoon before dinner. By attaching your goals to parts of your day that always happen, you create a habit trigger that you won’t forget.
Secret #5 – Everybody has certain foods that need rules
We all have those certain foods that, once we start eating them, we never want to stop. For some people it’s salty, crunchy things like potato chips or pretzels. For others (me!) it’s sweets like ice cream, cookies, or chocolate. Whatever those foods are for you, it’s really important to identify them and know your own patterns.
Acknowledging that you have trouble controlling yourself around certain foods doesn’t mean you need to swear them off forever. The best course of action is to create some parameters for how and when you’ll eat that food.
For example, I used to be in the habit of reaching for something sweet after dinner each night. I’d eat some ice cream, chocolate or even a big bowl of fruit just to satisfy my cravings, regardless of whether I was still hungry or not. To keep from sliding back into old ways, I made a rule that (aside from special occasions) I don’t go back for food after dinner. Instead, if I want something, I plan to have it during another part of my day. That plan may not work for everyone, but for me and my history of nighttime eating, this rule keeps my cravings and habits in check.
The secret is self-awareness and being honest with yourself without judging. A lot of girls won’t face their own habits because they fear the shame and guilt they will feel. They think they’ll have to go cold-turkey to stop feeling bad about their choices. But, if you know that all foods can be allowed as long as you eat them intentionally, you can look at your own tendencies without self-judgement. That allows you to find ways to enjoy foods you love in a way that doesn’t increase cravings to overeat.
Secret #6 – The cooking method really matters
This is one healthy eating secret that isn’t discussed enough. If you’re trying to switch to a helathier whole foods diet, but you don’t know how to cook those foods well, it might be a struggle. The way you cook this kind of food makes a HUGE difference in taste. Steamed broccoli is a lot less appetizing than broccoli that’s been seasoned, tossed with some olive oil, and slow roasted in the oven. The difference is like night and day! Same goes for almost all vegetables…the cooking method really matters.
If you haven’t mastered the basics like roasting veggies, grilling meat, cooking eggs, and using seasoning you might want to seek out some guidance. One book I often recommend to my clients is the original Whole30 book. The first half of the book is mostly an explanation of their 30-day protocol. However, the second half of the book is an excellent resource for beginner-level healthy cooking. It contains charts explaining how long and what temperature to cook all kinds of different vegetables on the grill, in the oven, and using the stovetop. While I don’t necessarily recommend their dietary protocol for everyone, this book has tons of easy healthy cooking tips to get you started.
If you’re not interested in buying cookbooks, you can use Google to learn ho to cook anything. A few of my favorite resources for healthy cooking and recipes are ElizabethRider.com, PaleoRunningMomma.com, and EatingBirdFood.com.
Essentially, if you think you don’t like healthy food, it’s because you aren’t very good at cooking them yet. Remember that the cooking method really matters. Once you master healthy cooking basics, you’ll love the way it tastes AND the way it makes you feel.
One final note!
The biggest healthy eating secret every beginner needs to know is that there is no ONE secret. Creating a healthy lifestyle is a slow process of learning, creating habit change, and mindset shifts.
The quickest way to get there is to learn from someone who’s already done it. That’s exactly what I provide for my clients in my Health Coaching program. They’re able to ramp up the speed at which they make long-term change because they aren’t doing it through their own trial and error. I’m there to make sure they avoid the common pitfalls and take the fastest route to their goal.
If you’re interested in getting this kind of help on your own health journey, I encourage you to schedule your free consultation call with me here.
I would love to get to know your story, your personal obstacles, and help you create a plan to bust through them and create the life and health of your dreams.
December 15, 2021