In theory, maintaining a healthy, wholesome diet on a regular basis is simple, but of course, doing so doesn’t come without plenty of obstacles to conquer.
“We make over 200 food choices a day, which gives us many opportunities to make unwise or unintended decisions,” says Lisa Rutledge, Registered Dietitian and author of The Debunking Dietitian.
This, on top of other challenges like time and cost, sometimes makes eating healthy seem almost unmanageable.
“Long commutes, long work days, busy schedules, kids, spouses, and other activities are all common challenges,” says Lisa Hugh, a Registered Dietitian and creator of “Single Ingredient Groceries”. “Shopping and cooking are chores that can be pushed aside by eating out, eating on the run, skipping meals, eating fast food, and drinking too much caffeine.”
Maybe you can’t find a way around your long work day or an extra busy schedule, but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo healthy eating entirely.
Rutledge says the most important thing to remember is that healthy eating doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” type of situation.
If you want to improve upon your habits, though, you do need to make sure that you’re really ready to start making some changes.
“If you are looking to make changes to your eating habits it’s important to have a source of motivation,” Rutledge said. “Wanting to change something and being ready to make the change are two different things. Keep changes small and easy enough to carry out.”
And when you are ready, you can use these tips to help make healthy eating easier than ever before.
Keep a food log.
“Numerous studies have shown that tracking our food is hugely beneficial for weight loss,” says Polina Smith, a certified personal trainer and founder of DIAKADI, San Francisco’s largest personal training-only gym. “Keeping track of our food helps us to gain a deeper understanding of what we are eating as well as making us more conscious about what is going in our bodies.” Apps like MyFitnessPal make digital tracking of your intake easier than ever, but if you prefer the old-school method of taking pen to paper, using a journal (as long as you're diligent and use it to gain feedback) can be just as effective.
Do a little bit of planning.
“Quality, good-for-you food is not difficult to prepare,” says Dianne Bailey, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, owner of The Conditioning Classroom in Colorado, and co-author of Eating Simply. “But it does not miraculously appear on your table or in your lunch box either.” This is why planning ahead to make sure that you’ll have healthy foods on hand is essential for success. “A weekly trip to the grocery store is absolutely necessary and having certain ‘go to’ foods available in your pantry is extremely helpful,” Bailey added. She says you don’t have to stress over having every meal for every day perfectly planned out, but that you simply want to make sure you’ll have the right ingredients on hand so that each meal you put together will provide your body with the nutrients your body needs.