5 Easy Rules for Eating Healthy

Eating healthy isn’t always easy, but these five rules will help make it more manageable

1. Eat mostly whole foods.
Sure, incorporating more whole foods like fruits and vegetables in your diet is easier said than done. Not to mention, it’s a pretty obvious way to begin eating healthier, but it's still a point worth mentioning. Focus on creating a balanced diet of foods that come from the earth, the less processed, the better. Think fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and lean protein sources. These types of foods are more nutritious than the packaged kinds (like cookies, chips and frozen dinners) and therefore will provide your body with the vitamins, minerals and nutrients it needs to perform optimally every day.

2. Don't eliminate entire food groups.
Unless you make the decision to follow something like a vegetarian or vegan diet, there's no reason you need to go to such an extreme. Most people won’t succeed in going cold turkey by implementing a diet that marks foods like bread or dairy completely off limits in the name of eating “healthier.” This type of thinking will probably backfire, especially if the food(s) you choose to cut out are things that you really enjoy. If your goal is to eat a little less, cut back on everything in the same amount so that you can maintain a balanced diet that will provide your body with all the different nutrients that it needs. If you think you might want to try following a specific type of diet like vegetarian, paleo or vegan, it’s a good idea to try easing into it by removing the restricted food products from your diet one at a time.

3. Readjust your mindset.
Don't think of certain foods as "healthy" or "unhealthy," evaluate them by their nutritional value instead; part of developing a healthy relationship with food means not thinking of a food that's less nutritious as "bad," but rather, just not the best choice. It’s OK to treat yourself to foods like cookies, cake, chips or ice cream sometimes, but it’s also important to make sure that you don’t ever feel badly about eating them. If you eat nutritiously for the majority of the time, a few treats here or there won’t negatively affect your health or fitness.

4. Be mindful.
Of course the quality and quantity of the foods you eat are an important part of maintaining healthy eating habits, but maybe you’ve never considered the fact that the way you eat affects your relationship with food, too. Learning to eat mindfully—paying close attention to your hunger cues and enjoying the tastes, smells and textures of your food— can help you to control your portion sizes so that instead of approaching food with restrictive mindset, you can eat more of the foods that you love (even if they're not the most nutritious) but still reduce your intake because you’re more in tune with your body and how much you really need to eat.

5. Take it slow.
Remember that your diet will never be perfect and that if you're working towards creating healthier eating habits it's going to take time and patience. Instead of trying to revamp your entire diet in one day (an unsustainable strategy that typically leads to failure and disappointment), add one new healthy eating habit each week until you've created a system of sustainable habits that you can maintain for a long period of time.

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