We live in a fast-paced world filled with temptations; the convenience of packaged snacks, food delivery apps and the mindless munching in front of screens. Most of us have fallen into these unhealthy eating traps at one point or the other.
Thankfully, it’s never too late to make a change and take control of your health and happiness.
If you are wondering how to develop healthy eating habits, we have made it simple for you. From keeping a food journal to planning meals and mindful eating, here are the top 20 healthy eating habits according to nutritionists.
No worries, these tips aren’t about deprivation, bland foods, or boring salads. These are simple, yet impactful changes you can make in your everyday lives.
1. Keep a Food Journal
Healthy eating habits begin with being aware of what you eat and identifying unhealthy eating habits. A food journal can help you with this.
You have to write down what you eat every day, for at least a couple of weeks. Mention every morsel that passes your lips. Don’t brush it off as, ”I took only a bite of that cake or that was barely a handful of chips.”
Write your food journal faithfully and you may be surprised by what actually goes into your system – how frequently you have unhealthy snacks, alcoholic drinks, sugary sodas, and so on. This will also help you identify patterns such as mindless snacking, emotional eating triggers, or other unhealthy eating habits that you may not have been aware of before.
2. Learn to Read Food Labels
You should be mindful of what goes into your food. Always take a look at the ingredient lists and nutrition labels before buying any packaged foods. This allows you to make informed decisions about your diet.
It is always best to reduce the consumption of packaged and processed foods. Such foods are bound to have added sugars, unhealthy fats, too much salt, and chemical additives such as preservatives, artificial flavours and colours, anti-caking agents, and so on.
3. Cook at Home More Often
The best way to know what goes into your meals is to cook them yourself. You can choose healthier cooking methods such as roasting or baking instead of deep frying. Steaming is another way to reduce your fat intake and eat healthier.
Choose whole, unprocessed foods to provide your body with essential nutrients. Whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fat sources, fish, chicken, eggs, lean cuts of meat, nuts, seeds, herbs, and so on – use local, seasonal, and organic produce to ensure you are providing your body with the best nutrition.
4. Plan Your Meals
When we are hungry, we tend to eat whatever is in sight. So it’s vital to keep healthy choices on hand. Plan and prep your meals ahead of time so that the food can be served quickly any time you need it. This will help you make healthier choices and avoid the temptation of fast food.
You can decide on weekly menus, do the grocery shopping accordingly, stock up your pantry with nutritious ingredients and set the stage for healthy eating habits.
5. Eat Regular Meals
Whether you are too busy to have a proper breakfast or on a weight loss journey, skipping meals is not a healthy habit. Having a nutritious breakfast kick-starts your metabolism and supports overall health.
Try to have an early, light dinner. Late timings and heavy meals can interfere with your sleep and digestion.
6. Snack Smartly
Healthy eating habits should be taught to children at a young age. Snacks such as potato chips, cookies, and other packaged snacks are not just unhealthy. They can be addictive as well. They are high in calories and low in nutrients, not to mention their undesirable ingredients such as added sugar, high salt, and chemical additives.
You should snack smartly by choosing nutrient-dense snacks such as Greek yoghurt, fresh fruit, and vegetables with healthy dips like hummus or homemade mayonnaise. You can make healthy mayo at home by using olive oil.
7. Find Healthy Ways to Manage Stress
Many of us tend to reach for comfort foods when we are stressed. Chocolates, ice cream, pizza, french fries, sugary sodas and whatnot!
It is crucial to be aware of such tendencies and devise healthy stress-management techniques for such situations. Spend time outdoors, go for a walk, meditate, do breathing exercises, go have coffee with a friend – find out what works best for you and put it into practice.
8. Increase Your Vegetable Intake
Load your plate with veggies for every meal. Have a rainbow on your plate as the more diverse the colours of your vegetable, the more the range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants you get. Eat your greens before starting on your main foods. This ensures you get all the nutrients you need without overeating.
Include plenty of leafy greens as these are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. Just one serving of leafy greens may help slow down the cognitive decline associated with ageing (1)
9. Have Fruits
When cravings for something sweet hit, have some fruits such as mangoes, pineapple, grapes, etc. If you are on a weight loss journey, you can opt for lower-carb fruits such as apples and berries.
Fruits are a nutritious alternative to processed snacks. Along with their natural sweetness, these healthy desserts also offer you fibre and a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
10. Avoid Fruit Juices and Sodas
It’s always best to eat fruit rather than drink fruit juice. A tall glass of orange juice with breakfast was considered a healthy choice till the research came in about the importance of fibre and the harms of added sugar (2,3).
Most packaged fruit juices and sodas contain added sugar, flavour enhancers and preservatives. Even if you are making natural fruit juice at home without any added sugar, you are still losing out on all the goodness of dietary fibre.
11. Switch to Whole Grains
Refined grains and processed grain flours are stripped of many nutrients and fibre content. To increase your nutritional benefits and fibre intake, opt for whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat.
You can make chappathi with whole wheat flour. You can add powdered millets, oats, etc to make your own multigrain version. You can also use such multigrain flour for baking cakes, cookies, etc.
12. Include Healthy Fats
You may be surprised to know that adding butter or cheese to your meals not only makes them tastier but also healthier. Dietary fats have been feared for so long as the primary cause of weight gain and heart disease.
Thankfully, researchers have found that some fat sources are actually beneficial to health, helping improve cardiovascular health and promoting weight loss (4).
Adding healthy fats to your meals increases satiety and keeps you feeling full for longer.
Avocados, nuts, and seeds, butter, cheese, coconut oil, and olive oil are all great sources of healthy fats. But do practice moderation as all these foods are also high in calories.
13. Eat Protein with Every Meal
Adequate intake of quality protein sources boosts muscle building, aids in weight management, and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
To ensure you meet your daily protein needs, it’s ideal to have some protein with every meal. Eggs, chicken, lean cuts of meat, fatty fish, beans, tofu, and legumes are all excellent sources of protein.
14. Have Probiotics
Including probiotics in your daily diet can considerably boost your gut health and immunity (5). Greek yoghurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, kvass, and kimchi are popular sources of probiotics.
Sprinkle some berries, nuts and seeds over a cup of Greek yoghurt. Drizzle some honey over it and you have a quick, healthy and delicious dessert.
Interesting Read:Top 10 Immunity Boosting Foods for Kids
15. Stay Hydrated
Drink 8 to 12 glasses of fluids a day to keep yourself well hydrated. This improves digestion and promotes healthier skin.
Avoid sugary drinks and opt for water as it is completely free of calories. You can flavour the water with lemon, herbs such as mint and slices of fruit. You can also include other hydrating drinks such as bone broth, green tea, and lemon juice.
16. Limit Your Sodium Intake
If you have high blood pressure, then it’s advisable to limit your intake of salty foods such as chips, pickles and pappads.
Limiting your sodium intake may help improve your blood pressure levels and heart health. There is no reason to completely avoid it as your body does need some amounts of sodium for its proper functioning.
17. Limit Added Sugars
High sugar intake is linked to an increased risk of numerous diseases including type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Excessive sugar intake can negatively impact your cholesterol levels, increase blood pressure, and promote inflammation.
Healthy eating habits for kids are vital for ensuring their dental health. Sugary foods and drinks encourage the growth of harmful bacteria, leading to tooth decay and dental cavities.
Have fruits to satisfy your sweet cravings. You can also make your desserts with natural sweeteners such as monk fruit and stevia.
18. Take Supplements
Vitamin D deficiency seems to be on the rise. Vitamin B12 and iron are two other common deficiencies to watch out for. So get your blood work done and take the supplements needed to fill the nutritional gaps.
Consult your doctor for personalized advice, especially if you have any existing medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Interesting Read:5 Drinks that You can Pack for Work to Boost Productivity
19. Control Portion Sizes
There is no good or bad food. All kinds of foods can be enjoyed as long as you practice moderation. Controlling your portion sizes can help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
One trick for this is to use smaller plates for your meals. You can load your food on a small plate and feel like you have so much to eat. The same amount of food on a larger plate can leave you feeling like you barely have anything to eat and this can lead to overeating.
20. Practice Mindful Eating
Practice mindful eating or in other words – stop snacking mindlessly. Sitting in front of a screen and eating can easily lead to overeating and weight gain. You need to be aware of your hunger and fullness cues.
Limiting screen time during meals promotes focus on food and helps develop healthy eating habits for kids.
Pay attention to the food you eat. Savour each bite, take time and chew the food properly. Sit down and have meals together with your family or friends. Mindful eating fosters a more enjoyable dining experience and helps prevent overeating.
What is the Concept of Good Health?
To achieve and maintain good health, we need to nurture our well-being with nutritious meals and adequate physical activity. We should also pay attention to our emotional and mental health.
For a nutritious and balanced diet, make sure to include a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. in your daily diet. You should give importance to developing healthy eating habits for kids as it is the parents who lay the foundation for their health and development. Limit sugary drinks and encourage them to make healthy snack choices instead of cookies or candy.
Adopt these habits gradually and make them a part of your lifestyle. To develop healthy eating habits, you first need to be aware of what your current eating habits are. A food journal can help you with that.
You should learn to read food labels and take note of the ingredients in packaged food. Limit your intake of processed foods and choose natural, wholesome foods.
Cooking more often at home helps you be in control of what goes into your meals. Eating mindfully and practising portion control can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.