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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 September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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