Healthy Eating 101

This post will be an attempt to answer my most commonly received questions regarding how to eat healthy. I will be doing a similar post soon on exercising!

Healthy Eating 1011. Get the Junk OUT!

I don't want to advocate trashing food but if your serious about committing to a healthy diet you need to get rid of all the junk in your house. If it's not there, you can't eat it. Simple. Make sure you never go grocery shopping when you are hungry and you will be far less likely to buy it again. If you live with kids/significant other who insist on eating it you'll have to either (1) tell them the whole family is shaping up or (2) work on #7 on this list.

2. Determine your caloric needs

You can use the formula here to see exactly how many calories you need a day based on your height, weight, age and activity level.

3. Keep a food journal

Once you know how many calories you should be eating a day now it's time to stick to it. The best way I've found is to keep a food journal. You can just use a simple notebook or if you want something fancy they make really awesome one's that you can also use to track your fitness:

Fitbook

You won't have to keep a food journal forever but I'd suggest at least a few weeks if you've never done one before. It may seem like it will take a long time at first to write down everything you eat and the calories for each item but after a while you'll see you eat the same things regularly so it will become much easier. Also, be sure you are eating the correct portion sizes. I still use measuring cups and spoons at almost every meal so I know exactly how much of each item I'm eating. I also received a kitchen scale a few months ago and use it daily! It's great for things like fruits, vegetables and meats where the portion sizes aren't so obvious.

EatSmart

4. Start doing weekly meal prep on Sundays to save time and money

One of the biggest issues I hear from readers is a lack of time to cook. I get it! I don't have time to cook during the week either so I have to do all my weekly cooking on Sunday's. I'll get everything done for lunches and dinners during the week and this is probably the #1 reason why I'm able to stick to eating healthy. If healthy food is there waiting for you already prepped you are SO much more likely to eat it. How to prep will depend on what you like to eat. Lindsay has a great post on how to meal prep and here is what a random week for me looks like:

Food Prep

 

Faux chicken + veggies for a salad, roasted squash, brussel sprouts and carrots plus Angela's increadible Buddha Bowl and tahini dressing!

Not only does the meal prep save time but it will also save money when you can make double your normal amount to have leftovers the rest of the week. For more ideas on how to save money and see how I spend my $50 a week on food you can see this post. Also,  to further squelch the rumors that eating healthy is super expensive. here are 44 healthy foods under $1!

Need some healthy meal ideas? Check out my Pinterest board with almost 150 low calorie, vegetarian recipes!

5. Expect slip-ups and eat 80/20

It will happen. You will be doing so good and suddenly you've had a horrible day, your sick, your out celebrating with your friends or your just bored at home watching netflix and you give into temptation and feel like you've blown it all. You haven't! This one event is enough to trigger many people to 'give up' on eating healthy.  Jillian Micahel's gave a great analogy in her latest book Slim for Life that if your car gets a flat tire, you don't get out and pop the rest of them do you? Hell no! You patch up the tire and get back on the road. It's okay. This is also why I eat by the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time my diet is ridiculously healthy, real wholesome foods and 20% of the time I'm eating sweet treats or giving in to my mad peanut butter cravings. If you try to deny yourself the foods you truly love for a long enough time eventually you will break down. Enjoy them in moderation!

6. Remember this is permanent

That 80/20 rule makes it possible to see this as a permanent lifestyle change. I hate the word 'diet' because it implies a temporary solution in my mind. You don't eat healthy for a few months, lose weight, then go back to the way you ate before. It doesn't work like that. Keep in mind that the healthy food choices you start making need to be realistic as this will be permanent. Could you lose weight eating nothing but lean protein and steamed veggies at every meal? Of course. Do you want to do that for the rest of your life? Probably  not.

7. Learn how to identify and fight cravings

A few months ago I wrote this post on why we crave sweets and fats. I think that knowing where these cravings come from helps us to realize that they are normal and not our fault! Once you understand that I think you are better equipped to fight cravings. Here is another post I did on 5 questions to ask yourself to  identify craving versus hunger.

8. Don't drink calories

I have very few food 'rules' but this is one of the first one's I adopted when I lost 50 pounds a few years ago and I noticed weight loss almost immediately. Yes, I still have wine on occasion but I'll factor that in to my 20% of 'fun' calories! Cut out things like processed  juices, alcohol, coffee additives and soda. If you really can't stand drinking water try some sparkling water, teas and all natural zero calorie soda's like zevia. If your making a healthy smoothie or juicing at home this rule wouldn't apply in that situation!

9. Eat real food

My only other food rule is to eat real food. Pretty straightforward! Most of my meals center around deliciously seasoned vegetables, healthy fats like oils or nuts, and vegetarian protein sources like quinoa, lentils or beans.

Eat

10. Get adequate rest.

An often overlooked component of healthy eating. An article I recently wrote discusses how a lack of sleep can cause people to eat more junk the next day! I know it happens to me if I'm particularly tired. Before I realize it I'm craving sugar laden foods as I'm trying to find a quick source of energy.

[Tweet "These 10 easy Food Rules helped one blogger lose 50 pounds!"]

Final Thoughts.

I'm commonly asked how to deal with sugar cravings. Unfortunately, the only effective method I've seen to eliminate them is to cut out all added sugars from your diet for at least a few days. Some people even cut out natural sugars, like fruits, but just getting rid of the candy, syrups, sweeteners and other unnatural sources should be enough for your body to detox off of sugar.

Also, if you want a great basic guide to eating healthy and exercising I'd recommend Jillian Michael's Slim for Life. I did an in-depth review of it here and overall I was very impressed with it's straightforward and realistic advice to committing to a healthy lifestyle.

Every 28 days your skin replaces itself.

Your liver, 5 months.

Your bones, 10 years.

Your body makes these cells from the foods that you eat.

You are what you eat.