I spent way too many years of my life battling with food. It seems silly when you think about it because I really love food. So why did I fight with it so much? In the beginning it was a battle with over-eating. Then it was making sure I ate the perfect amount and panicking when I didn’t. From there I found weight loss shakes that eventually lead me to fruits and vegetables. From fruits and vegetables it went to vegetarian, to vegan to gluten free. All of which lead to heart palpatations and constant muscle aches. I wish I would have known that it didn’t have to be like this. Starting a healthy diet doesn’t have to be from one extreme to the next. In fact, smaller steps lead to better lasting results. So before you go doing anything drastic, check out these 11 super simple ways to start a healthy diet that sticks.*This post contains affiliate links. Although I may make a commission, all recommendations are my own.
Make one change
When you have been struggling with your diet for a long time, there is a good chance that you have made yourself feel guilty for all of your bad habits. Maybe you eat too many sweets, snack late at night or just can’t cut the soda from your diet. (I’m from Minnesota and it’s killing me not to call it “pop.”)
Rather than going cold turkey on all of your diet struggles, try taking it one step at a time. Give yourself a minimum of 30 days and just completely quit one bad thing. Maybe try a sugar detox. Give up that morning soda. Do what you can to take one teeny tiny step in the right direction.
After you have chosen one thing to stop doing, work for 30 days at being really good at it. Be really awesome at not having dessert. High five yourself for not buying fast food. Let this one change sink in and become a habit and after that, maybe you’ll be ready to quit something else!
Get a meal plan
A lot of people struggle when it comes to healthy eating because they just have no idea what to eat. Most of us can’t afford a personal trainer or a dietician and are left trying to figure out how to eat a healthy diet.
Instead, take the affordable option and try out the $5 Meal Plan. These healthy meal plans and grocery lists were created by a busy mother of 4 who knows how important it is to eat well and stick to a budget! Take full advantage of these meal plans so you don’t have to spend all your time pacing the isles of the grocery store.
Record your eating habits
I always thought food journals were a silly waste of time. In my mind it felt like I was giving even more power to food when it already seemed to be controlling me. Really, food journals have a way of making you aware of habits that you may not otherwise pick up on.
Do you get really tired 3 hours after you eat bread? Are you seeing that you tend to start snacking right before bedtime? Having a food journal can really help you be aware of how food is affecting you. In fact, one study suggests that keeping a food journal actually helps to double weight loss goals!
The people in this study who kept track of their eating also attended support groups to help improve their chances of success. Which leads me to my next healthy diet trick.
Get a partner
I had tried giving up sugar for weeks and would always innocently sneak a piece here and there. As soon as my husband and I decided to do it together, I stopped! It was like I knew I would be accountable to somebody else besides myself.
You know what they say, there are strength in numbers…even when it comes to battling food.
Your healthy diet very much depends on the choices that you make but having a partner there to support you, encourage you and help hold you accountable is always a good idea.
Other helpful health posts:
- 5 Ways Your Healthy Lifestyle is Making You Broke
- Mood Food: Foods That Naturally Make You Happier
- Home Gym. 5 Equipment Options for Any Size Home
- Set Health and Fitness Goals on a Budget
Drink more water
Maybe you’ve heard it by now that often times when we think we’re hungry, we are really just super thirsty. That’s why it is so helpful to drink water first thing in the morning, before meals and whenever you feel hungry. Personally, I chug an entire glass of lemon water while my morning coffee brews.
Here are some other sneaky ways to get more water in:
- Try fruit infused waters
- Carry a water bottle around with you
- Drink a full glass of water before any other beverage
People also say you should be drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. To me, that’s math that I don’t want to do. Carrying a large water bottle with me and making sure I get through it once, twice or three times a day is good enough for me.
I am a hungry person…a grazer. My body feels best when I eat all day. This starts to cause problems when I don’t have anything healthy nearby. I’m sure you can relate.
It’s been a long day, you’ve been hungry for an hour but haven’t been anywhere near food. As soon as food is within site, you eat the absolute most unhealthiest food you can find. Am I right?
Rumor has it, this goes back to the cave man days. When our ancestors were cave men and their bodies went into “starvation mode” their instincts told them to find the food with the most calories in order to help tide them over until they were able to find their next meal.
That’s why it’s so easy to reach for a slice of pizza over an apple.
In order to avoid this, make sure you pack healthy snacks when you know you’ll have a busy day. Things like fruit, nuts or baby carrots are always a good go-to.
One thing a lot of people struggle with when starting a healthy diet is that they never allow themselves to have the occasional treat. In some cases, this is a good idea. Soda, for example, has a way of being highly addictive for people and if you are able to cut it form your diet, you should definitely stick to it.
That doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to an ice cream sundae on occasion. Are you at a birthday party and you keep eyeballing the cake? I’ve got news for you friend, if you are sitting and staring at a dessert then chances are, that food is in control of you. Why not take away it’s power? If you are going to a birthday party, tell yourself you’ll have a little birthday cake.
This is definitely a fine balance and will work differently for everyone but ultimately, finding a good healthy diet and a balance with food includes allowing yourself the occasional treat.
Don’t eat before bed
I promise, promise, promise this is one of the best things you can do for yourself! Eating before bed can really jam up your digestive track and cause you to wake up feeling funky. The main reason is your body doesn’t require much energy to sleep. Because, well, you’re sleeping.
I know it is so tough to give up that night time snacking, but I promise if you do, you will see results from it if you have been a consistent night time snacker!
A lot of times our eating comes out of habit rather than an actual need. If you are used to sipping that soda every day at lunch. Why not try distracting yourself with something similar? My person favorite soda substitute is kombucha! They even make it in soda flavors these days! Kombucha is a healthier alternative because it is filled with probiotics and fermented sugars. Plus, it has that same carbonated taste as soda does!
If you’re not so much a soda struggler, is it a snack at a certain time of day? Most of us have a mindless habit of snacking while we watch TV. During times like this, maybe you could still allow yourself to snack, but choose a healthier alternative. Something like unbuttered popcorn. I know it might not sound all that appealing, but studies have shown people will snack on whatever is in front of them when that TV is on. You may as well make it a healthier snack!
Don’t over-do it
Like I said, jumping to the extremes of dieting is never actually a healthy diet. Take small steps to improve your health where you can and at your own pace. While there are people who do better with the “go hard or go home” way of life, more often than not that approach leads to burn out.
Drastic life changes will take time. You will make mistakes, but you only fail if you quit trying! A healthy diet is well within your reach, you just have to find what works for you!