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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 June 2, 2020

8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

The importance of effective goal setting cannot be overstated on our personal journeys towards success. This is why there are countless articles out there on how to set your own SMART goals and even why it’s a skill commonly taught to a small degree in classrooms.

Learning the importance of goal setting and the benefits of sticking to those goals can be the defining factor determining whether we truly embrace the importance of goal setting. The more willing we are to embrace this method, the more likely we become to reach our personal definitions of personal and professional success.

Thus, today’s article is going to walk you through some of the benefits you’ll see from learning to set goals for yourself and answer the question, “why is goal setting important”.

1. Goals Guide and Align Our Focus

It’s hard to get to where you want to be in life if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. Some people believe avoiding goals means living a more care-free life. How many times have you heard the phrase “If I have no expectations, then I can’t be disappointed”?

But is that really what our lives have come to? Living just to avoid disappointment? It doesn’t seem like an overly optimistic view in my opinion. And since you’re reading this article, I’m willing to bet that you agree with me.

Without goals, we lack a degree of direction and focus. Sure you may be able to avoid disappointment, but just avoiding disappointment doesn’t mean you are necessarily happy.

Without goals, we will pointlessly waste our time, energy, and efforts. Listen to anybody who is the top of their field and they’ll tell you something like this,

“Yes talent is important, but often your success depends much more on what you decide to do with that talent.”

And what you will do with your talent largely depends on your focus.

Your goals give you direction. Your goals give you something to shoot for. This direction and target you create in your mind will help you to progress towards your main life goals rather than simply wander around aimlessly. These goals will help you align your actions and behaviors as you continue moving forward.

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So, why is goal setting important? Because it gives you direction, alignment, and purpose!

2. Goals Help You Avoid ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’

Basically, shiny object syndrome is always being in pursuit of the next big thing, constantly switching your goals based on what you feel is most fun and interesting at the given moment, but never actually giving yourself time to accomplish any of those goals.

You don’t get anywhere because you continually change the direction you are heading in. This is one of the consequences that may result if you decide to live a life without goals.

Your goals can sometimes help you to create mental barriers, or blinders, that help you to remain focused on what you think is important and avoid the things that are second priority. When you outline goals for yourself, you are better able to avoid things that distract you from achieving and accomplishing those goals.

Setting goals helps you to step around the other shiny objects because you’ve taken the time to make some mental notes that remind you what it is that you want from your life. Your goals act as subconscious deterrents to anything less than your main priorities. This is what helps you to reach your personal definition of success.

So, why is goal setting important? Because not only do goals tell you what you want from life, but they also help you realize what you need to give up and avoid to achieve that.

3. Goals Turn Our Largest Goals into Manageable Steps

A lot of us have big hopes and dreams. It’s one of the things that make our lives exciting!

But a lot of us never take the time to figure out how we can effectively get from point A to point B. So, sadly, we never fully achieve those goals. We look at our dreams and convince ourselves that only a select few people ever achieve them, so we write ourselves off as people not meant to reach that level of success. Looking at the end product of a goal can be intimidating, daunting, and discourage us from even pursuing them.

Thankfully, goal setting helps us break large intimidating goals into smaller ones. These small steps and more achievable goals will help us to build momentum and will encourage us to keep working towards the next phase of our goal. The form the foundation from which we can begin building the life that we truly hope to have for ourselves, our families, and may even for our communities depending on how big your goals are!

Whenever I get talking about this aspect of goal setting, I can’t help but think about the mountain climbing analogy, and that the easiest way to climb a mountain is simply step by step.

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So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting gives you a list of manageable steps that you can take in order to take your life from where it is now to where you want it to go both effectively and efficiently.

4. Goals Encourage You to Take Action

This builds on the last benefit of goal setting. Not only does effective goal setting help you break down your larger goals into smaller, more manageable ones, but it also encourages you to actually begin taking action on those goals. After all, a plan is completely worthless if you aren’t willing to invest the effort required to execute it.

Setting your goals and putting your plan in place motivates you to begin taking action towards achieving them. These goals give you something to plan and work towards. Essentially, they help propel you forward.

What I like to do is write out and place my goals somewhere that I’ll regularly see them. This constantly serves as a reminder of my top priorities. It allows me to focus on taking small progressive actions towards achieving these goals daily.

This ensures that I don’t fall into the trap of setting a goal, beginning to work towards it for a while, but then having my motivation fade resulting in me falling off track. This is exactly what many people see happen when it comes to their “New Year’s Resolutions.”

If you want to learn about some of the golden rules for goal setting that will help you set and achieve your goals successfully check out this article: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

So, why is goal setting important? Because goal setting actually motivates you to stop thinking about your goals and actually get out there and achieve them!

5. Goal Setting Helps You Continually Improve

This is something that a lot of personal development and self-improvement writers talk about, continual improvement. For those of you who are not aware of the term, continual improvement is exactly what it sounds like — taking small steps towards improvement as frequently as you can to develop into the person you want to become.

What’s the point in improving a little bit each day if you’re not improving in the areas that you want to improve in after all?

The goals that you define for yourself will inevitably shape you into the person who you want to become. They’ll shape your character. Your goals can help you measure your progress as you strive for this type of development.

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Essentially, having goals helps you determine where you started, where you are now, and how much further you need to go. In this manner, your goal setting can serve as milestones and benchmarks that help you determine how well you’re progressing towards your most important goals!

So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting helps you make improvements each day that will slowly transition you into the person you want to become.

6. Goal Setting Keeps You Accountable

Not only does setting goals help you measure your progress, but it also is a means through which you can keep yourself accountable. Too many goals fail because they lack this crucial aspect of outlining accountability.

For example, if I have the goal to do 50 push-ups, that’s great. Most people would support that goal. However, this goal lacks accountability. When do I want to accomplish this goal by and what steps do I take to get there? These are important questions that the original goal leaves unanswered.

A much more descriptive and specific goal could be to do 50 push-ups within the next 3 months by starting at 5 push-ups, and then adding 5 each week. This goal outlines the deadline as well as the steps I’m going to take to achieve it. This plan will keep me accountable because if I fail to retain my progression schedule, I will know that I’m not going to achieve the goal on time.

Additionally, it can serve as a marker helping to signify when something is impeding my progress that I may not have initially accounted for. This tells me that I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing and figure out what adjustments I can make to facilitate my success.

So, why is goal setting important? Setting goals is key to keeping ourselves accountable and on-track towards accomplishing our goals according to the schedules and deadlines we set for ourselves.

7. Goals Make You Feel Good

Trust me, the progress you feel as you set and achieve goals can become super motivating and super addicting (in a good way)! The dopamine release you get from achieving your goals is like a little reward for our brains that continually motivates us to try and hit that next goal!

Having some clearly defined goals will help you to feel better about yourself and your life in general, especially when you stick to those goals, actively work towards achieving them, and end up accomplishing and surpassing your initial expectations. I’m not the oldest book on the shelf myself, but I can attest that there are not many feelings quite like the one you experience when you truly get on a roll!

Additionally, our goals give us an endpoint to shoot for. Rather than progress for progress’s sake, you can actually see where you’re heading! That’s so much more rewarding. Think about a long car trip as a kid. You ask “if you’re there yet?” ever 20 minutes. It seems like the drive drags on forever.

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If you don’t know where you’re going, you risk the journey becoming tedious. It doesn’t tend to be much fun wandering around aimlessly. Goals make us feel good about where we’re directing ourselves.

So, why is goal setting important? Because setting goals and accomplishing them plain and simply make us feel better about ourselves and our lives!

8. Goals Help You Live Your Best Life

I’ve talked a lot in this article about how goal setting helps us progress towards our top priorities and live the way we truly want to live. So I think it’s fit to end the article with this goal because, in the end, I feel it’s the most important one.

Setting your goals and clearly defining what they mean to you will help you live a life that is tailored to your beliefs and values. Your life will become directed towards the things that you most want to achieve.

Life is a tricky game and only in very rare circumstances are things handed to us on a silver platter. Often it takes a great degree of work, planning, and effortful execution of both.

There is no point clinging on to things in your life if they don’t bring you happiness or help you accomplish something that, in some way, aligns with your goals.

Simply put, setting goals helps us live a life that allows us to pursue the challenges and rewards that we truly want to achieve.

So, why is goal setting important? Because our time is always limited, and setting clearly defined goals can help ensure that you make the most of your life and live to the fullest!

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the benefits of goal setting that outline why it truly is so important. If you take a moment or two, I bet that you can even think of a few more benefits yourself that you could add to this list.

If I could leave you with something, it would be this:

Goal setting has the potential to take us to some amazing places in life because we all have talent and ambitions. To achieve your biggest dreams, you need to be willing to sit down and create a life design uniquely tailored to you that will help you achieve them!

More Tips About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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