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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Start Eating Healthy No Matter How Old You Are

How to Start Eating Healthy No Matter How Old You Are

You are what you eat — maybe you’ve heard that before. Well, guess what… it’s totally true. What we eat (or fail to eat) plays a significant role in our physiological health. Unfortunately one in four Americans eat junk foods at least once a day… maybe you’re one of them.[1] If you are, there’s no need to panic, you can turn that around starting today.

If you’re like most people, though, you’ll probably have noticed that switching from unhealthy to healthy eating habits can seem a bit challenging. In fact according to a 2012 study, some Americans even find it easier to do their taxes than to eat healthy.[2]

But wait a minute — if eating healthy seems like such a herculean task, is it possible to maintain a healthy daily diet? The short answer — absolutely!

In this article, I’ll show you exactly how to start eating healthy. So sit back and relax as I take you through 12 tips that will help transform your eating habits and set you up for a life time of resounding health.

1. Understand Why You’re Doing This

Okay friend, buckle up because this is going to take some guts. Breaking a bad habit isn’t always easy. You know why? Because it took you years to perfectly adapt to that habit.

So, what do you do? Identify exactly why you’re doing this, and constantly remind yourself of it.

Maybe you want to lose a few (or a lot of!) pounds to get in shape for your upcoming wedding, or you’re trying to avoid diabetes and other health complications associated with sugary foods.

Whatever your reason, write it down and place it where you can see it every day. Trust me, it helps! If your motivation comes from within, you’ll have a much greater chance of succeeding on this quest.

2. Go Easy on Yourself

If you want to build a sustainable lifestyle change, it’s going to take some time, so go easy on yourself. One of the greatest mistakes people make when trying to switch to healthier eating is that they try to erase overnight, a habit that took them years to build.

Oh, no… it doesn’t work that way.

Junk foods stimulate the pleasure center of the brain to get you craving for more. And that craving isn’t going to disappear overnight.

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That’s why you should start small by gradually reducing the amount of unhealthy foods in your diet and replacing them with healthier options. You can start with a 25% substitution, then you can work your way up to 50, 75… until your entire diet is totally transformed into a healthy one.

3. Clear out the Sugary and Highly-Processed Foods

Sugar is a sweet poison…period. It does your body no real good and can inflict a lot of harm including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.[3] So, before you reach for your next bottle of soda or that big cup of ice cream, think twice. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, one of the greatest sources of refined sugars is beverages — think fruit drinks, soft drinks, energy drinks, alcoholic drinks, sweetened coffee etc.

But asides being sugar laden, highly processed foods are inherently bad. This is because bulk of their essential nutrients have been stripped off during processing, leaving you with empty calories and nutritional deficiencies.

So, what do you do? Clear out such foods from your fridge and pantry, because out of sight is out of mind.

But as I earlier stated, you may want to pace yourself. Do it gradually until there’s none left and resolve never to buy unhealthy foods again.

4. Introduce Clean Foods

Clearing out your pantry won’t make much difference on your health if you don’t stock up on healthy foods. But what are those, exactly? Well think of it this way:

Any food that nature provides — you know, the kind of stuff that grows in the ground and spoils if not refrigerated — is a clean food and those are really healthy. Example of clean foods are fruits veggies, nuts, seeds and unrefined whole grains (beans, brown rice, etc.).

Clean foods are loaded with fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and even antioxidants, all of which are important for overall health.

And when, you fill your kitchen and refrigerator with these kinds of foods, you’ll naturally eat more of them and develop a lasting taste for healthy diets.

5. Don’t Ignore Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds may appear tiny, but don’t be fooled — they pack a serious nutritional punch.

Chia seeds for instance contain protein, fiber, antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids and a ton of minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron and manganese.[4] All these nutrients play a significant role in promoting good health.

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Other great nuts and seeds include flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, almonds, pistachios and dried berries.

Getting more nuts and seeds into your diet isn’t so difficult either. You can sprinkle them over your cereal, make them a part of your baking recipe or simply snack on them instead of a fries or candy bars.

6. Add Veggies to At Least One Meal Each Day

Your transition to healthy eating wouldn’t be complete if you don’t make vegetables a regular part of your diet. Veggies contain so many important vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that help your body systems function properly.

Besides the impressive nutritional profile, vegetables — especially high-fiber varieties — also act as “fillers.” In other words, it makes you feel fuller, while consuming a considerably lower amount of calories. They may also help to reduce cravings for junk foods.

So, for a start, aim for at least one serving of vegetables per day. As you move along, you can fill up to half of your plate with them. But if the thought of eating raw vegetables makes you want to pull your hair out, there are various ways to spice things up.

One of them is by roasting your veggies with salt, pepper and some oil. Combine that with your favorite whole grains and protein sources, and you’ve got a delicacy in your hands.

Another approach is to add veggies to your soup recipes. Either way, your body will thank you for consuming this amazing food.

7. Make Healthy Foods Readily Available

If you’re really serious about eating healthy, then it goes without saying that you need to surround yourself with healthy foods. This is because when you’re really hungry, you’ll most likely eat the first thing you see. If that happens to be bananas and apples, great. But if your cupboard is still loaded with bags of fries, then that’s what you’ll probably eat.

So, keep healthy foods anywhere you know you’ll look for food, on the kitchen cabinet, the cupboard, the refrigerator, pantry, on your desk at work… everywhere! Merely seeing these healthier food options can help to condition your mind to your new eating habit.

For more healthy foods inspirations, check this out:

15 Healthy Snacks You Should Always Have At Home

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8. Eat in Smaller Plates

While it’s important to stock up on healthy foods, you still need to watch your portion sizes. That’s right, eating too much whole grains, peas and even fruits can still make you fat.

When you eat from large plates, you’re likely to eat more because it can trick your brain into thinking you haven’t had enough.

But when you eat on smaller plates, you’ll feel full quicker, thereby avoiding overeating even while you’re on a healthy diet.

9. Use Whole Grain Flour When Baking

Sometimes you just need to bake. But when you do, be sure to use whole grain flour.

Why? Well… it contains the bran and germ — which is absent in regular flours — and these significantly improves the nutritional quality of whatever products you make from it.

If you’re not entirely comfortable with the look, feel or taste of whole-grain flours, though, you can start off by substituting just half. As you get more and more used to it, you can ditch the regular flour completely.

10. Have a Green Smoothie Every Morning

Nothing quite matches the thrill a green smoothie gives at the start of each day. Starting your day with a glass of blended fruits and veggies does your body a whole lot of good, such as cleansing the colon, reducing sugar cravings and supplying of energy, vitamins and minerals. And — this may surprise you — it also tastes great.

Green smoothies also contain lots of chlorophyll — a strong antioxidant that flushes out free radicals from your system.

If you haven’t tried it before, here’s a simple recipe: take 2 ripe bananas, two handfuls of leafy greens (e.g., spinach) and 1 cup of water. Blend everything for a few minutes in your blender until it’s very smooth and enjoy.

Or you can try out these green smoothie recipes:

30+ Flavorful Green Smoothie Recipes That You Can Make In Less Than 5 Mins!

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11. Pay Attention to Labels

Before you purchase any packaged product, you need to start paying serious attention to what its label says. If it contains too many artificial ingredients, then it’s probably not good for you, so drop it and look for another.

But how do you know if the ingredient is artificial? If the ingredient almost makes you bite off your tongue in an attempt to pronounce it, then its probably artificial and you need to return it back to the shelf.

Always stick to products with all-natural ingredients and little or no sugars or artificial sweeteners.

12. Drink Lots of Water

So far I’ve been discussing what to eat or not eat, but what you drink is just as important. And if there is one liquid you must constantly load up on, it’s water. You could never go wrong with this one.

Booze on the other hand isn’t a good idea if your desire is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The same goes for soft drinks and other sweetened beverages.

So, starting with a glass in the morning, endeavor to work your way up to a gallon of water per day. Your body will thank you for it.

Have difficulty drinking enough water? Here’s something for you:

How to Drink More Water Easily When It Seems Like a Major Chore

The Bottom Line

Switching to a healthier eating pattern isn’t as hard as most people would have you believed. All you need to do is start small and introduce at least one healthy food into your diet each day.

With those baby steps, you’ll eventually reach the point where every single meal you have on daily basis is a healthy one.

Be sure to also keep yourself accountable by monitoring your progress and constantly reminding yourself of why you decided to make the change in the first place. It may seem daunting at th beginning, but as you keep at it, it’ll get easier, I promise.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Lark via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Richard Adefioye

Richard has a unique passion for healthy living and productivity.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

More About Living a Fulfilling Life

Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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