The question 'how to start eating healthy', can actually be two separate questions on the same subject.
1/ 'How can I start eating healthy psychologically?'
2/ 'What foods should I eat for a healthy diet?'
Learning how to start eating healthy is no easy task as you’re probably well aware. If it were that easy, we’d all be eating healthy without any thought about it and there would be no articles, websites and healthy eating guides like this to advise us why, when and how to start eating healthy.
But the reality is, for most of us, eating healthy consistently long-term is an almost impossible task to even think about, especially when there’s so many nice-looking 'unhealthy foods' on offer which are nearly always at very cheap prices? This makes long-term healthy eating habits very difficult to maintain as I'm sure you're well-aware.
Therefore, the big question for many, is, "how can I start eating healthy when it's so darn difficult?" and, "why should I even think about eating healthy at all?" "Surely it should be easy or at least easier if it were meant to be" Right?
Well, learning how to start eating healthy long-term certainly is achievable, even if you think it isn't, as there's lots of simple steps you can take to help you and to make it more enjoyable. In addition, there are many reasons why you should think about eating healthy that you'll benefit from long-term as discussed on the benefits of eating healthy page.
Maybe you’ve been advised by a doctor to start eating healthy due to medical reasons? Maybe you just feel the need to start eating healthier because you’re aware of the many benefits that healthy eating can bring you, or maybe you want or need to lose weight? Maybe you're getting older and are a little concerned?
Whatever your personal reasons for wanting to eat healthy may be, this article aims to help you to understand yourself better from a psychological point of view, to help you to get on the right track of eating healthy, or at least healthier than you are right now.
After we've had a chat about the psychological aspects or 'how to start eating healthy', we'll take a look at what are generally considered 'healthy foods' and how to start incorporating them into your present diet and lifestyle...
So, how can you actually switch your mindset and learn how to start eating healthy, or at least eat healthier and stick to it?
First of all, you’re obviously open to the idea of healthy eating, for whatever reason, whether for health or weight-loss as you're here reading this, right? So, we need to build upon this new openness and awareness of healthy eating.
First of all, this section is not about feeling bad about yourself ok, rather just getting in touch with who you are without getting too heavy - no pun intended! - but, it may get a bit heavy, or deep, for you, depending on who you are and what experiences you've had.
Hopefully, I don't come across as patronising here, but the very first thing you should try to do is to welcome this change. See it as a way forward to a better, healthier you, rather than be negative about it and see it as a problem, which you more than likely do, or you wouldn't be here looking for help on how to start eating healthy would you?
Of course this is easier said than done, but by following the advice on this page and the related pages seen in the links on this page, over time, you will hopefully overcome any negative feelings that you may have about changing your diet to a healthier one. The most important thing is to never give up trying, even when you slip back to bad eating habits. Remember, "there is no failure, only experience which gives deeper understanding before pushing forward again".
If you truly want to learn how to start eating healthy, and more importantly, how to maintain it so it becomes a natural way of life, then having a good understanding of yourself can open the door and light the way to show you how to accomplish that. For that to become a reality though, you will need to be aware and honest with yourself about how and why you think and feel about food, if you aren't already aware?
Maybe you're unhappy due to where you live and your only comfort is food? Maybe you've been brought up on junk food and its all you know and want to eat and you find it so hard to let go of those childhood junk foods? - more on that in the next section below - Maybe you have low-self esteem for whatever reason and you simply comfort eat? Maybe you just simply like food? Maybe you have had a terrible childhood and your only comfort is food? Or, maybe you're just bored?
It could even be a combination of any number of the above possible reasons that you find it hard to eat healthy and keep it up, whether for health reasons or for weight loss or both.
Whatever it is, and however painful it may be, if you truly want to learn how to start eating healthy, or at least 'healthier', then you do need to get in touch with yourself and why it is you think you find it hard to eat healthy.
This is not always easy and it may take time, a long time, but with patience and persistence, in the long-run, you will benefit immensely. Remember, "anything of any worth or of any lasting value does not come easy but is well-worth the effort". Try to remind yourself of this and tell it to yourself daily like an affirmation to help you to stay positive.
Another important thing is to get in touch with your body. Your physical body is your only vehicle for getting around on this Earthly plain. It really is that simple and very true. Many of us treat our cars better than we treat our own physical bodies? Your body really is the temple of your soul or spirit, so try to think about that a little more if you want to learn how to start eating healthy long-term.
The thing to understand and remember is this simple fact; the various foods that are fed to us from childhood while growing and developing have provided the building materials for our physical body to grow and develop. Therefore, our bodies are made from the very foods that we were brought up on and fed as a child and in our early teenage years of development too.
As a result, we crave these foods both physically and emotionally, because our body, our taste buds and our mental/psychological associations with these foods are programmed to expect them. These foods are what we are used to and only really know and crave on every possible level of our entire being. As the saying goes; 'old habits die hard'!
It's as if we can't live without them. We are mentally and physically attached to these foods. We are emotionally dependent upon them and the thought of not eating them anymore is almost over-whelming to many of us. It’s as if we’re addicted to the foods we were brought up on. This would be fine if you were fortunate enough to be brought up on a 'healthy diet', but if not, then learning how to start eating healthy long term can take time, patience and persistence.
So, if this makes sense to you and you can see some truth in what I’m saying here, then the best way forward is to develop self-awareness and an understanding of yourself. Once you start to understand yourself, and, what makes you crave and want to eat unhealthy foods, you’re mindset and perspective will automatically start to change. It may take time, but the key is to stick with it even after slip backs!
I've slipped back so many times I've forgotten, but I just see it as slow development and gradual change, before getting back to the path once more. After a while, the slip backs become less and less and also not so 'big'.
Understanding yourself is the start of having the ability to change for the better. This can really help your body and mind to learn how to start eating healthy, or at least healthier than you are eating right now, which at the very least will be a good start, right? Realising these things about YOU is the first step towards a slow progressive change in your outlook and mental perspective of what you eat.
Having more understanding produces clarity, and seeing more clearly can light the way to a healthier you. If you can start to realise that the reasons you crave certain foods are a result of them being in your system for so long, you can start to realise and know, that when you become cleaner on the inside, you will not crave the foods that you are trying to give up anywhere near as much. This can be a great leverage to help you to move forward and to turn the question of 'how to start eating healthy' into a real practical experience.
There has to be a desire within you to want to eat healthier, and you will need to develop a certain amount of discipline to at least make a start to break the pattern of eating unhealthy foods. You must try to break free from this habitual cycle of unhealthy eating that you are now a part of, and have probably been caught up in for a long time now?
Remind yourself that you will crave far less 'unhealthy foods' as your body becomes cleaner internally. This will hopefully help you to find the motivation and willpower to at least make a start in the right direction. You must make a start no matter how small it is or you will just stay exactly where you are and never experience any of the benefits of eating healthy long-term.
The best way to look at this is to not give yourself too big a step to eating healthier. Instead, just make small, realistic changes to your present diet as discussed in the next section. This will help you both mentally and physically as the change is kept small. This is something you can implement and build upon over time which makes eating healthier more achievable long-term!
There's no point jumping in with big changes that you can't keep up. This is what happens in yo-yo dieting where weight is lost quickly and put on again just as quick, where cravings are so overwhelming, that the person binges on all the previous unhealthy foods they used to eat?!
Its about a radical change of mindset, and body set, for the long-term objective. Allow yourself time to adjust and develop as a human being. This is best done with slow, steady progress!
Start small and build upon it. Small changes are easier to implement, more realistic and longer lasting. Remember, this is not just about changing the way you eat. If it were that simple, we would all be doing it and we would all be healthy and slim. This is a long-term process that you will go through, so we need to make it as easy as possible, but, over time, it will significantly reduce your unhealthy food cravings, as well as change the way you think and feel about food.
It's about changing your long-term habits, your way of thinking and total mindset! This DOES NOT HAPPEN OVERNIGHT! BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF BUT KEEP TRYING!!
The changes you make will depend upon your own personal and emotional needs so you'll have to adjust them accordingly. But if you don't make any changes and kid yourself that you are making changes, then you're just wasting your time. You have to make a start no matter how small it is if you truly want to learn how to start eating healthy long-term.
The list below is a quick introduction on how to start eating healthy, or at least, healthier! I'll go into each of these in more detail further down under the heading 'what exactly is a healthy diet?'.
The types of changes you can make are pretty obvious and include;
Make a small change to your diet in the right direction today by following the advice above, so you can start to experience some, or all of the many benefits of eating healthy.
The bottom line? It really is all down to you whether or not you can take this information and actually make a start? Nobody can force you to change your diet, but if you really do want to learn how to start eating healthy then you must be truthful with yourself in order to understand yourself better.
That doesn't mean being hard on yourself, just honest and aware. You must also try to start taking responsibility for your physical body and what types of food you nourish it with. Look after it, you only have one for this lifetime!
This may not be an easy thing for you to do, but at least have a go! Remember, "anything of any worth or anything of any lasting value does not come easy, but is well-worth the effort".
Make a start and change something in your diet today no matter how small it is, and begin to experience how to start eating healthy for real. Read the benefits of eating healthy and also the first quick weight loss tip on junk food to help you to get motivated.
"A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step"
Take that step TODAY!
Just above this section, I discussed how to start eating healthy by making small changes to your diet to help you psychologically. In this section I'm going to discuss those foods in more-depth, and what is considered a 'healthy diet' from a scientific point of view, but also from a natural/naturopathic viewpoint.
Whatever your personal reasons for starting to eat healthy may be, the scientific facts say a balanced, healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and even some types of cancer!
That said, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables won't necessarily help you a great deal if you still include quite a lot of junk foods and 'unhealthy foods' in your diet. It certainly won't hurt you either, and it may give you some benefits like vitamins and minerals, and also help to keep you 'regular', but don't fool yourself into thinking its ok to eat a load of junk on a daily basis because you eat some fruit and veg.
Many people think, if they include fruit and veg in their diet it somehow counteracts all the negative effects of junk foods. If only it were that easy?!
This is a big misconception, and, to be honest, a bit of an excuse to eat 'unhealthy foods' in my opinion, or at best a simple lack of awareness. Sorry to sound patronising.
Here in the UK it's recommended to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
1/ Fruits and vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin C and potassium.
2/ They're an excellent source of dietary fibre, which can help to maintain a healthy gut and prevent constipation and other digestion problems. A diet high in fibre can also reduce your risk of bowel cancer.
4/ Fruits and vegetables contribute to a healthy, balanced diet.
5/ Fruits and vegetables taste delicious and there's so much variety to choose from.
Fruits and vegetables are also usually low in fat and calories (provided you do not fry them or roast them in lots of oil). That's why eating them can help you maintain a healthy weight and keep your heart healthy.
To get the most out of your 5 A Day, your 5 portions should include a variety of fruit and vegetables. This is because different fruits and vegetables contain different combinations of fibre, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
Almost all fruits and vegetables count towards your 5 A Day. They can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced.
Potatoes, yams and cassava do not count because they mainly contribute starch to the diet.
But don't take my word for it. Take a look on the NHS website at the link below. That's the National Health Service website here in the UK.
Therefore, with this in mind, I think it’s fair to say that eating healthier and learning how to start eat healthy long-term can also help towards longevity, meaning, living longer, or at least longer than you might live if you didn't eat that healthy most of the time.
Eating healthy isnt just about what you eat, its also about what you don't eat! I think you'll agree, this is not rocket science, so I'm going to be stating the obvious in much of this text. But in simple terms, our body is nothing more than a living plumbing system. Everything about it is a tube or cylinder of one type or another.
Bones are tubes, arteries are tubes, veins are tubes, capillaries are tubes, muscles are tubes or cylindrical, nerves and the nervous system are covered by sheaths (tubes), and internal organs are vessels made up of tubes. Even cells are cylindrical.
So, our bodily system is a vast network of pipes and tubes that are very soft and flexible in nature. If we eat the right foods for our body, we can live a long, healthy life, because our body really is made to last a long time! The problem with this system of soft pipes and tubes is when we eat unhealthy, unnatural foods. When we do this over a period of time, our system can very easily, slowly, but surely, get 'clogged up' to a greater or lesser degree. You only have to look at how hard it is to clean some of the saucepans or baking trays to clearly see this truth! Some of these baking trays have to be soaked for a period of time to get them clean again?!
So, if one baking tray needs to be soaked and/or scrubbed hard after grandma bakes her cookies or apple pie after just one outing in the oven, how do you think our 'soft pipes and tubes bodily system' is coping after decades of eating these foods? The point is, our body is so well made and resilient, that we don't really notice the effects of these foods short term, as our body copes so well. But ultimately, slowly but surely, it gets more and more 'clogged up' over time, as a slow, gradual decline is inevitable due to eating 'wrong foods'!
I urge you to do this simple test with any foods you cook or prepare for consumption. Anything that is hard to clean from your saucepans or baking trays will be equally hard for your body to break down and for the body to keep itself internally clean from thereafter, especially when such foods are eaten over many years and decades as is often the case?!
The point is, you either see this or you don't, and, you either act on it or you don't?
Like I said, it isn't rocket science. The truth is often very simple and can be seen without trying to prove it with science.
So, with this in mind, its a good idea, in my opinion, to start reducing and ideally cutting out altogether over time, these types of foods and all similar foods, which in this case are; pastries, cakes and biscuits, or cookies as you say in the USA.
It makes total sense, that anything that is hard to clean from your saucepans or baking trays will also be hard for your body to break down, digest and eliminate - especially as we get older - and also for the body to continue to keep itself clean internally thereafter and over time, especially when such foods are eaten regularly over many years and decades, which is usually the case.
The point is, you either see this or you don't, and, you either act on it or you don't?
Like I said, it isn't rocket science. The truth is mostly very simple and can be seen without trying to prove it with science.
So, with this in mind, its a good idea, in my opinion, to start reducing, and ideally cutting out altogether over time, such foods, which in this case are pastries, cakes and biscuits, or cookies, as they say in the USA.Back To Top
If you're trying to lose weight, slowly or quickly, or you're just trying to eat healthier long term, then this simple approach to diet will almost definitely work for you! Giving up all junks foods may seem obvious, but it really isn't that easy to put into practice as I'm sure most of you will agree.
Junk foods are exactly what they say, 'junk!' So, we really must try to start thinking of our body as our vehicle for movement around this beautiful planet. Your body is your vehicle to move, right? Of course it is! Well if you agree, then you really do have to start trying a little harder, or at least becoming more aware of your 'bodily vehicle' for movement! Treat it with respect. Look after it. Feed it the right foods, nourishment and nutrients it requires and totally deserves, and it will reward you tenfold! Of course it will, because it was made by the Universe/God, right?!
I mean, you wouldn't put poor quality fuel, or bad quality oil in your car would you? Of course not! That said, I totally understand the difference. Its not as easy to do with food as it is with our car, because our taste buds, and what we've been used to eating from childhood, play such a big part in how we feel about food and what we choose to eat.
With a car there are no emotions attached to it regarding maintenance and the quality of any materials we decide to use, other than whether or not we can afford them of course.
But look, if you're serious about losing weight, or you're just trying to get healthy, then you have to start becoming more aware of yourself, your body and what you are eating that is detrimental to your long term health. This is crucial if you really want to know 'how to start eating healthy', or at least 'healthier' long term!
AWARENESS IS KEY!
To be continued...