How to Eat Right
Eating a healthy diet is good for you, no matter who you are or what your goals are. But it can be difficult to know where to start (especially if you don’t want to lose weight), so here are your basic guidelines for a healthy diet.
There is no perfect diet
Before we get started, an important basic rule is that there is no one perfect way to eat. It doesn’t matter what your keto friend or your mom following this diet says, you just have to give it a try. When weight loss diets were compared to each other, they all worked in much the same way. And if you’re just eating healthy for your health (what an idea!), There are many more ways to do it. So let’s talk about what almost all approaches to healthy eating have in common.
Eat more fruits and vegetables
If you only change one thing, do it. Most of us don’t eat enough vegetables, or eat the same vegetables over and over. Eat more vegetables and more types of vegetables. It’s the same with fruits, especially fresh fruits. (Apple pie is technically a fruit, but I don’t really mean that.)
Frozen is fine. You can toss frozen cooked spinach in just about any sauce or soup, or toast a bunch of vegetables – fresh, frozen, or whatever – on a baking sheet for a light side dish or meal. All delicious, seasoned and fried .
Get Enough Protein
Getting enough protein from a normal diet is not difficult, but when you reevaluate what you eat, make sure you leave room for it. Lean proteins like fish, chicken, and tofu are a great base for your diet. Whether to include higher fatty foods such as red meat depends on your dietary goals (including whether your doctor has advised you to limit these foods for health reasons).
If you are trying to lose weight, you need more protein than the average person . The less food you eat, the more protein should be in it. Remember that protein is a nutrient found in many foods; it’s not just the meat and tofu itself. Get in the habit of reading labels (or googling about the protein content of your foods) to make sure you’re getting enough. The numbers are shown in our protein guide .
If you exercise a lot, you will also need more protein than the average person. The exact amount you need depends on your weight and the type of exercise you are doing. Again, read our guide for specific numbers.
Eat less sugar and processed foods
It is unrealistic to completely eliminate sugar and processed foods from your diet. In any case, processing is relative ; cooking is a form of processing. But if you find yourself eating a lot of these foods, it may be helpful to ask yourself: what can I eat instead?
For example, instead of packed breakfast cereals, you can cook oatmeal or oatmeal overnight. If you drink a lot of soda, you might be fine if you replace some of these drinks with water or seltzer. And if you snack on sweets or chips a lot, perhaps you could increase the amount of food (more protein? More vegetables?) So that you are less likely to feel the urge to snack.
Simplify healthy eating
The intention to eat healthy is the easiest task. In fact, when you are busy or tired, simply having a snack or a snack confuses people.
So think ahead about what you want to eat and set things up to be easy. Place fresh fruit in a convenient location and tuck the candy into the back of the cabinet. Chop up your weekend vegetables and cook brown rice so they’re ready for dinner. If you enjoy cooking dinner but get lost at lunchtime, pack your lunch in the evening (even if you’re working from home) so you just have to open your lunch drawer when it’s time to eat.
By the way, eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean preparing food from scratch. I love getting bags of frozen vegetables or vegetable / cereal mixes from Trader Joe’s and pairing them with whatever protein I have on hand (often also bought and thawed from Trader Joe’s, sorry I’m predictable). Relieving yourself is not cheating.
Track calories only if you really want or need to
If you are trying to gain or lose weight, you will need to adjust the total calories you eat based on the number of calories you burn. And if your weight is changing, but you do not want it, you need to be the same number of calories consumed and burned. Tracking your food and counting calories can help you keep track of whether the numbers are the way you want them to be.
However, don’t track calories just because you feel like you should. If you don’t have a specific goal, or if you’re flexible with your schedule, you don’t need to download MyFitnessPal just because it’s what all your dieter friends do. (Cronometer is the best app for this anyway.)
If you do start counting calories, a little warning: don’t aim for a shockingly low amount, even if you have the willpower to make it work. An extreme calorie deficit can lead to loss of muscle, not just fat , which, ironically, can make you worse off than in the beginning. In any case, incremental changes are more sustainable.
Don’t change everything at once
As with exercise, it takes time to get used to the habit . A healthy diet can include many different habits, such as learning new recipes or buying foods that are different from what you are used to, so give yourself time to learn and get used to.