For those who have never learned to eat in a healthy manner and do not understand proper nutrition, starting to live a healthier lifestyle can seem difficult, but it need not be. With a little knowledge anyone can start on the road to good health.

Healthy eating is essential for maintaining proper body function, living a disease-free life, and having enough energy and vitality to see through the day without feeling tired or lethargic. For those who have trouble with healthy eating, breaking unhealthy habits could possibly be the most difficult aspect of the process. But, for those who really want to live the best lifestyle possible, it is essential to adhere to a proper diet and stick with it for the long term.

A healthy lifestyle starts with a positive and focused mindset. Often it is the mind that is playing games with you, and if you can replace the foods you crave for with a better more healthy choice, you have won half the battle. Therefore a great starting step when you wish to begin a healthy eating plan is to rid your home of bad foods.

What are bad foods? A good place to start is with anything that is packaged and processed, this includes, cookies and soda. Processed, packaged foods typically have little in the way of the nutrients the body needs.

Keeping junk food and drinks out of your kitchen can help to prevent temptation. Instead, stock your kitchen with healthy snacks, such as, carrot sticks and fruit. Anything that comes from nature and is without being processed — or the least processed possible — is generally a good choice.

What do we mean by “least processed possible”?

To make it simple, look at your food choices in this way:

  1. An apple is as close as it gets to nature
  2. Adding oat meal is less healthy, but better than eating
  3. Apple pie (which has wheat and added sugar). But a self baked apple pie or apple crumble with cinnamon and honey or natural brown sugar is better than
  4. Any nutrition bar which has a lot of processed foods and generally unhealthy oils, but a healthy nutrition bar based on nuts and honey is better than
  5. Any cake you buy from your local supermarket (almost 0 nutritional value and full with sugar and unhealthy additives).

So in short, the farther you go away from nature, the less nutrient value, vitamins and minerals are maintained.

For those who have a sweet tooth, your first replacement choice for cookies, cakes and ice-cream should be fruit, fruit juices, or frozen fruit (if you’re addicted to ice-cream try frozen berries instead). When you’re traveling and fresh fruit is hard to get buy, your second option is nutrition bars. Generally they are comparable to “calorie bombs” because they have so much sugar, which even in a more natural form will not help with your health and fat burn. But if it’s your only alternative, look for protein bars and nutrition bars that have no added sugars.

Healthy Meals

What do healthy meals include? Lean proteins, and healthy carb sides, including whole grain starches and vegetables. Also, fruit is a good choice for dessert. Overall, a healthy eating plan includes the recommended daily allowances from all the food groups, and when you look at that chart please notice that sugar is nowhere on the chart.

One more step in learning to eat a more nutritious diet, is to take the time to learn which foods are the healthiest and how they work in the body. It’s common knowledge that fruits, vegetables, low-fat and skim dairy products are healthy, but, few individuals fully grasp why. The secret is understanding nutrients.

Once you appreciate how specific nutrients work in the body, you’ll be more prone to make these healthy choices at meal and snack times. Knowledge is power!

Cook At Home

Control the ingredients and the cooking methods and you control your health. Don’t leave it to chance and make sure that you prepare the best meals for you and your family.

Schedule Your Meals

When beginning a new healthy diet, it’s also wise to consider a consistent meal schedule. If you frequently eat in a rush or at odd times of day, it is likely you aren’t eating healthy foods. Many people have very busy lives, and eating junk and fast food on the go is typical. It’s important to plan ahead. Rather than grabbing a fast food lunch on the run, take a bagged lunch to work, possibly a tuna salad sandwich on whole wheat or a fresh salad. The weekend is a good time to plan for the week, and prep food that can be used easily throughout the week.

By cooking ahead of time and using the freezer to its fullest advantage you can easily plan ahead for healthy dinners. There are many healthy frozen meals available at the market as well, and they can be a good alternative for those who really cannot cook.

Shop The Periphery Of The Market

Did you know that the periphery of any super market has all the healthy foods, while the inside aisles carry all the processed and unhealthy ones. Think about it, the product aisle, the fresh meats, and the dairy products are all on the periphery. Next time you are at the market take a stroll and look around the periphery to see what is there.

Final Thoughts

If you’re serious about changing your eating habits to start a more healthy and nutritious diet, but you already know that you will fail if you need to make a total 180° U-turn, then look at your healthy food intake in percentages. Analyze the meals you eat throughout your day, and look how much percentage you consider healthy natural food, and how much percentage is food without nutritional value. If your healthy food intake is on the low end of the percentage scale, then change the percentage gradually to increase eating more foods, or more meals with high nutritional value.

Begin with small steps. Even if you merely substitute one soda a day with a glass of water, or one candy bar with an apple, it counts. If you normally eat fast food each day for lunch, try eating a healthy meal instead for half of the time. When you begin with tiny steps, it won’t feel too drastic and you can take your time to find out about healthy foods which you can learn to love in the long run.