Does eating healthy food every day seem daunting? You know that it’s good for you, but it’s just too hard? Diets and calorie counting just aren’t working? You may have started making the changeover, but you didn’t stick with it because you just couldn’t do it all the time – you weren’t perfect? Well here’s a good start with a gradual approach to a balanced diet and maybe even some weight loss. And the great news is…you don’t have to be perfect!
Consider the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time you eat clean, nutritious foods, 20% of the time eat basically what you want and love. For most of us, that will look like eating healthy at home and enjoying less restrictions when we are out.
Eating healthy is easier than you might think. Try some of these helpful hints to meet the goal of healthy eating 80% of the time.
- Empty your cupboards of processed foods – those boxes in the back that have been sitting there way too long. Do the same in your refrigerator. Get rid of foods loaded with preservatives.
- Make a list of the healthy foods you like, especially proteins and vegetables. With multiple family members, turn this into a fun project finding the foods common to all in the group. Choose a protein and 2-3 vegetables and do an online search with those ingredients as keys words including the word “recipe”. For example, if chicken and broccoli are on the list, search “chicken broccoli recipe”.
- Choose colorful foods – they have more nutrients. Taste the fruit and vegetable rainbow!
- Have healthy snacks available like nuts, veggie sticks, and fruit.
- Prepare a shopping list and stick to it when you go food shopping. Include the ingredients for one or two recipes based on your food choices. Schedule your shopping at a time when you are not hunger so you won’t grab those quick calories found in junk food.
- Buy organic when possible. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 70% of conventionally grown produce contains pesticides. At a minimum follow the annually updated Environmental Working Group produce guide, also known as the ‘Dirty Dozen’ and ‘Clean 15’. The Dirty dozen lists the produce with the most pesticide residue. The Clean 15 list are those fruits and vegetables with the least pesticides, making them safer to eat non-organic or conventional.
Here is the 2022 Dirty Dozen list, best to buy these organic:
- Kale, collards, mustard greens
- Bell & hot peppers
Clean 15 list, safer to eat non-organic:
- Sweet corn
- Frozen sweet peas
- Honeydew melons
- Sweet potato
- Consider portions sizes. Start by using a smaller plate. Next, look at the size of your hand as a gauge for portion size. Protein portion equivalent to the size of your palm, veggies at least the size of your fist, a hand full of nuts or raisins for a snack.
- Drink more water – it’s the best thing you can put in your body! Nearly all of us could benefit from drinking more water. Add a squeeze of lemon if you like. Have a glass of water before your morning coffee. To drink more water during the day, choose a special glass to have at your workspace or home. A good quality water bottle is important to have for the gym and when you are on the go.
Everyone can benefit from eating healthy! Implement these steps by eating nutritious whole foods 80% of the time. You’ll have some wiggle room, so you won’t need to beat yourself up for not being perfect. The 80/20 rule is also good for your mindset! It will give you permission to not be perfect, instead allowing you to focus on the intention of being healthy. No more need to feel bad about cheating, because you’re not when you stick to eating healthy 80% of the time.
Eating out won’t be such a big challenge since you will have more options. Over time, your body will want to eat healthy foods that provide nutrients. And with the 80/20 rule, you can still have that occasional scoop of ice cream!
Add a key ingredient to healthy eating: Eat your food with mindful awareness – pay attention to the process of eating.