Eating healthy is not the impossible task you may have been led to believe.
We want to feel good, have plenty of energy, sleep better, be able to do our jobs exceedingly well, and enjoy every meal to the fullest.
In reality, however, a lot of people still mistakenly believe in a common misconception: that healthy eating is difficult and dull or that healthy food doesn’t taste good.
Well, this is just not true! In this post, we’ll be sharing six tips on making healthy eating easier and more enjoyable.
Read on to learn how you can embark on your personal diet and lifestyle journey with a bit less apprehension and a bit more of a pep in your dietary step.
1.) Understand What You Want to Achieve
First of all, you need to define what healthy eating is for you, based on the goals you want to achieve. Every person is different, with different goals, for example, someone training for the Olympic marathon will have a very different diet than an amateur weightlifter.
If neither of these applies to you, you don’t have to trap yourself into a very limited diet that does not match your lifestyle, requires a lot of willpower to maintain and could see you giving up on your goals unnecessarily.
Your goal might be far less intense; to lose weight, bulk up, or simply make a conscious effort to eat healthy food. Whatever you’re going for, you should start by defining your goal and your priorities, as well as your non-negotiables.
If you really want to indulge in the occasional pizza, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn't - in fact, we encourage it!
2.) Prepare a List of Groceries
One of the main challenges of eating a healthy diet is finding the time to prepare most, if not all, of your own meals. Home-cooked meals do take longer and can be a bit of a faff, but by preparing a detailed meal plan for the week ahead, compiling a shopping list, and then sourcing all the required ingredients, you'll find it easier to stay on track and it will make an impromptu takeout meal or junk food much less likely.
Establish a running grocery list within the household, get everyone in the house to contribute, that way you won't end up having to prepare multiple dishes. To help you with this, you can:
- choose a grocery shopping list app that suits you
- use Alexa or Siri for help
- keep a list on the fridge door
Then when heading out to the shops, all you have to do is stick to the list and resist temptation. You’ll find you're far less likely to buy unhealthy items and will cut down on the food bill too as you'll only be buying what you need - everyone knows fruits and vegetables expire faster when you're the one paying for them!
3.) Stock Your Kitchen and Pantry
To make meal prep simpler, ensure you have everything you need for the kind of meals you’re going to make. If you choose your recipes in advance, you’ll know exactly what you need.
First, make sure you have all the necessary cutlery, kitchen utensils, and kitchen gadgets - this detailed kitchen essentials list can serve as your guide. Only select the items you need for the kind of cooking you usually do, for example, there’s no point in having a filleting knife if you're a vegetarian! So, stick to the basics for your style of cooking.
It also really helps to stock the pantry with dry and canned goods you tend to use often. This way you’ll reduce your time spent out shopping, and you’ll always have stuff in to make a simple meal. Whole grains like rice, quinoa, beans and lentils are the kinds of non-perishable items you should always have in stock. Here’s another useful list.
Pro tip: Get experimental with nutrient-dense and health-promoting herbs, spices and flavourings such as matcha, medicinal mushrooms, hemp seeds and nigella seeds just to name a few. This is a super-easy way to make your food tastier and healthier, but not any denser in calories.
4.) Prep Meals in Advance
Meal prep can seem like a bit of a pain, it certainly takes time, focus, and a concentrated effort. However, it can save you a lot of time in the long run. Plus, it can help eliminate any thought processes about your next meal. All you’ll have to do is reach for a food container in the fridge.
You also don’t have to meal prep for the entire week if that sounds like too much. Two or three days in advance can be just as helpful, especially if you tackle both lunches and dinners. If breakfast is all you have to make from scratch, you will already be adding so much extra time to your day.
The same goes for meals you take to work with you. These can be some of the unhealthiest ones we eat as it's super tempting to grab them from a stall or a fast food joint.
5.) Don’t Skip Meals
We all “fall off the wagon” sometimes. We eat too much, or we indulge in a particularly heavy or sugary meal or go out to eat and find it harder to make good choices when there's so much temptation, we've all been there.
It's easy then to take one of two routes; either we tell ourselves, “well if I’ve eaten that, I might as well eat this other unhealthy thing too,” which leads to a binge, or we may deprive ourselves of food altogether for a while and start skipping meals in an effort to “make up” for the added calories.
These approaches are definitely not the answer. No matter what you eat and no matter how guilty you feel after a meal, never skip your next one. It will actually have the opposite effect than what you were hoping for. It can slow your metabolism and make you cling to the extra calories you’ve already consumed, making it harder to lose weight. Remeber, skipping meals out of guilt is very different to 'fasting.
6.) Don’t Be Afraid of “Unhealthy” Food
While we are on that point – don’t be afraid of food that you consider unhealthy. A burger, a side of fries, a milkshake, a slice of cake – none of this is ultimately bad for you when consumed in moderation.
You are more than allowed to eat a snack, or an entire meal, that is not on your "healthy list". In fact, it can even help you curb your cravings, ensuring you don’t binge and over-consume unhealthy or processed foods.
As long as your diet consists of healthy foods 80% of the time, the not-so-healthy 20% will only help you stick to your plans and achieve your goals, not vice versa.
Eating healthier does not have to be a dreadful task that consumes your waking hours. In fact, it can be an enjoyable endeavour that fuels your body and mind and makes you feel excellent in your own skin.
All you have to do is take on the right approach. With the right mindset – as opposed to one that is purely focused on perfection – you can save yourself time and money, all while boosting your physical appearance and your mental health.