How To Eat Healthy For Fitness Beginners
As different styles of eating fall in and out of fashion, it can be confusing to try and understand how to eat the right food to be healthy and reach your fitness goals.
We’ve talked before about how creating healthy eating habits can help to give your body the nutrition it needs. To help you implement those habits, we’ve come up with some practical ways that you can adapt your kitchen to make healthy eating an easier choice.
How to eat healthy
When you understand where your processed food cravings come from, there are things you can do to make it much easier to choose healthier options. Here’s what you need to know to make sustainable and satisfying healthy food choices:
Understand the science behind why you crave junk food
Two things make eating pleasurable. The first is the sensation of eating — the smell, taste, texture, salivary response, and how it feels in your mouth. The second is the macronutrient makeup of the food — the protein, fats and carbohydrates.
Food scientists behind popular processed food companies spend a lot of time researching how to create food that you will find pleasurable to eat. Resisting a packet of potato crisps can be hard because the use of ingredients like salt triggers the release of dopamine in the brain. This is a pleasant experience that will keep you coming back for more.
Processed foods can bypass your body’s sense of fullness — your brain receives a signal that you aren’t full, even if you’ve eaten a lot of calories.
Foods that ‘melt in the mouth’ or dissolve quickly make you feel like you aren’t eating as much as you are. When food disappears quickly, this signals to your brain that there are no calories in it and you keep on eating.
When you eat something enjoyable, you may start to produce saliva in anticipation of eating that food again. With highly-processed food so readily available, it can be hard to ignore these sensations and choose healthy food.
Once you understand the mechanisms behind your desire to eat processed food, you can make healthy food choices that satisfy your senses and fill you up.
Eat a variety of food combinations
Eat healthy foods that combine a range of different colours, textures and flavours. In this way, you get the nutrition you need without becoming bored with what you are eating.
When you combine foods with contrasting sensations, this creates a sense of novelty that registers as a positive memory in your brain.
For example, a healthy snack option might be to have berries with Greek yoghurt, topped with cacao nibs or chopped nuts. For those who prefer savoury snacks, you might choose to have rye crispbreads with hummus and tomato.
Combining crisp or crunchy food with creamy foods, or salty with sweet food provides a memorable eating experience.
Trying new foods that you don’t eat every day keeps your meals interesting. Learn how to make kimchi and explore other foods that you don’t eat every day.
You may be less inclined to want junk food if you have satisfied this desire for variety and new food combinations with healthy choices!
Find out what should be on your plate
Educate yourself on the recommended servings for meat, dairy, grains, fruit and vegetables. This knowledge can help you to be confident that you’re filling your body with foods that will give you lasting energy.
Filling your plate with mostly vegetables and smaller amounts of protein and starchy carbs is a great way to start!
While intermittent fasting is one of the recent popular trends in healthy eating, you don’t need to fast to eat healthily if that doesn’t work for you.
A balanced diet that includes a wide variety of foods from all of the six food groups will ensure that you meet your energy and nutrient requirements.
Keep healthy food visible
When healthy food is the easiest thing to grab and go, you’ll be more likely to choose it in a hurry!
- Keep a bowl of fruit or nuts in a convenient location for when you’re in a rush.
- Pack healthy snacks the night before. Take the time to cut up fruit and veg for convenient snacking, so a healthy choice is easy to make!
- Fill your fridge with healthy food so that it’s the first thing you see when you open it.
- Stock your freezer with frozen fruit and veg for those times when you can’t get to the shops. You can even freeze soups and other meals to use on days when you’re too busy to cook.
If you’re concerned that healthy food choices may be more expensive, we can assure you that clean eating on a budget is very achievable.
Enjoy all foods in moderation
Part of healthy eating is finding balance. It’s perfectly okay to eat comfort food or have a treat, especially if it’s part of a celebration or social occasion.
Don’t feel guilty about enjoying your meal, savour it, and you’ll be satisfied without overeating. Using mindfulness while you eat can help you to become more aware of the experience and how it makes you feel.
Living a healthy lifestyle should be enjoyable and not restrictive. Being comfortable eating all different types of food is part of a balanced mindset and will help you to have a positive relationship with food.
Dine socially and enjoy it!
In cultures around the world, meals are a time for people to come together to share food, talk about their day or celebrate a special occasion. Food is the centre of many of the most fun and connected aspects of our lives.
There's no need to miss these important moments because of what you feel you should or should not eat! Healthy eating choices should not disrupt your social life or be a list of rules to follow.
Eating healthy food doesn’t have to mean missing out!
Deciding to change the way you eat is a big step towards feeling better and having more energy to go about your day. A healthy lifestyle should make you feel good, and allow you to incorporate healthy food choices into your day without being a burden.
If you aren’t sure what healthy food to cook, try some of our nutritious recipes! You’ll find options for vegetarian dishes, meals from different cultures and recipes that you can meal prep ahead of time.