The internet is full of health advice but what can you really trust? First of all, true “health” needs to consider not just physical health, but mental and emotional wellbeing as well. Here are 10 healthy eating habits with tips to implement them from a Registered Dietitian. Pick one to start with and start the journey to feeling your best body, mind, and soul!
When you think of healthy eating habits, what comes to mind? Is it green smoothies, kale salads and cauliflower everything? I’m not gonna lie, I love me a good dose of all of these things! But as a dietitian who is dedicated to helping you make food feel good, I believe that the way you think and feel about food are equally important components in developing “healthy” eating habits.
I always feel like I’ve got to give a bit of a disclaimer when it comes to using the word “healthy”. Without proper context it can just as easily become diet-culture induced, inflicting that subtle (or not so subtle) feeling that our morality is part and parcel with our food choices. So before we dive into these 10 healthy eating habits I need you to know this — you are not a good or bad person for the foods you choose to eat or omit. Our food choices literally have zero to do with our morality and worth as a human being! Read that again and really let it sink in.
Around here, whenever I refer to health – whether it be healthy recipes, healthy eating habits or general health – know that it will always encompass mental, emotional and physical wellbeing (without one, we don’t have the others!)
When it comes to food specifically, sure I love to share nutrition tidbits, information about how certain foods may energize you, help balance blood sugars or support you in physically feeling your best. But equally as important? Does the recipe or tip inspire you, connect you better to your body or to those around you (I mean what is better than good food enjoyed with food people?!), does it leave you feeling mentally AND physically satisfied as you clear the table, and do you enjoy what you’re eating?!
Healthy eating to me is about feeling good and enjoying food on all fronts — no guilt, no restriction, all foods welcome at the table.
Here are a few of the things we’ll cover in this post
Improving your eating habits is about more than just nutrition, but how feel around food. Starting with a food journal that explores not just what you eat, but how you eat and your thoughts around food is a great place to start! Here are some tips to get started.
Absolutely not! Counting calories and macronutrients can actually disconnect you from your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues and innate ability to eat intuitively. Here’s something to try instead.
Healthy eating habits must incorporate not just the physical impact of the foods you eat, but how you think and feel about food! While filling half your plate with vegetables, or eating regular balanced meals are helpful, letting go of guilt, and having flexibility in your eating are equally as important! More on that here.
And a whole lot more.
So with that said, here are 10 healthy eating habits that I believe can truly transform the way you feel from the inside out!
Tip #1: Make it about more not less
This is an important one! It seems that there is always something we are being told to cut out, limit or avoid. First of all, no one food is going to make or break things for you, and the very act of making something “off limits” is almost guaranteed to make you want it and think about it more.
That’s just psychology 101 right there.
Instead, focus on what you want to add to your diet.
Maybe it’s adding a piece of fruit for a morning snack, or a handful of greens to your morning smoothie. It could be adding more protein to help balance blood sugars or increasing the fiber in your diet by sprinkling some seeds onto your dinner bowl.
The options are endless. Pick something that excites you! That feels manageable, and most importantly that won’t leave you feeling restricted or deprived.
Tip #2: Stop counting calories (or macros, or using a number someone else set out for you to dictate your needs).
If you’ve done this for a long time, I know it can be scary to quit! There is a certain comfort in having something to follow, or “knowing” that you’re doing things right, but this ends up having the exact opposite effect as intended.
Counting calories or prioritizing any other external set of “rules” only ends up disconnecting us from our body’s actual cues like hunger and fullness cues.
Tip #3: Don’t let yourself get too hungry!
While we’re often led to believe that less is more — that if we can just hold off on our hunger a little longer, skip that snack and muscle our way through to lunch, or push through the afternoon and wait to eat until dinner – that we are somehow being “good”…
Sorry, but that’s bullsh*t.
Going too long between eating causes our blood sugars to drop resulting in overwhelming cravings and what can feel like out of control hunger at meal times! This is simply our body doing it’s job and letting us know we need fuel – when we don’t listen, those signals (aka cravings) get louder and louder until we listen. The longer we put off hunger, the more intense it gets. THIS is what’s really at the root of feeling out of control around food. It’s not your lack of willpower.
Eating regularly throughout the day – for many a variation of 3 meals and 1-3 snacks works well – is one of the best ways to set you up to have more energy, to be able to make intentional choices around food, and foster that trust and intuitive eating ability your body naturally carries!
Tip #4: Fill half your plate with vegetables
Vegetables are packed with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and cell-protecting antioxidants.
Not only that, they pack in the fiber which helps stabilize blood sugars, keeps you feeling full longer after eating, and supports healthy digestion.
Aim to eat a variety of different colors of fruits and vegetables throughout the week to benefit from all the different nutrients found in each color!
Tip #5: Include Protein at Every Meal
Not only is protein an important nutrient to support the many chemical reactions happening in our body every day, protein helps us build muscle, supports metabolism, and slows the rise of blood sugars when eaten with a meal.
Eggs, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt or hemp hearts are delicious with breakfast. Chicken, Fish, or legumes like chickpeas, beans and lentils are so versatile for lunch and dinner. For snacks, try adding a handful of nuts to a piece of fruit, or adding a dollop of nut butter to some delicious dates for a little midday pick me up.
If you’re looking for more plant based options, here are 10 of my favorites!
Tip #6: Make ¼ of your plate a fiber containing carbohydrate
There is absolutely no good reason to cut carbohydrates from your diet! Seriously.
Carbohydrates are our body’s preferred energy source and play an important role in fueling our muscles, our brain and so much more!
When we cut carbohydrates from our diet, it is likely that sugar cravings will increase – often with great intensity – in order for our body to get that source of energy and fuel it’s craving!
Opting for whole grains most often will provide you with more fiber and nutrients, and longer lasting fullness – that being said, there’s no need to avoid the white stuff! All carbohydrates provide energy and sometimes, there’s just nothing like that crusty loaf of french bread!
Tip #7: Include Fat (the key to satisfaction)
Thankfully, I think we’re past the days of demonizing fat but if you’re still skeptical, here’s your official dietitian’s order to include fat in your diet!
Dietary fats are essential for the absorption of certain vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E K) and protect our vital organs.
On top of that, fat slows our gastric emptying, keeping us full longer after eating and providing longer lasting energy and more stable blood sugars. Fat also provides that satiety or satisfaction factor so that not only will you feel full, but satisfied after eating.
No more rummaging around the cupboards right after a meal because it just didn’t quite hit the spot!
Some of my favorite fats to eat are avocado, hemp hearts, olive oil, and various nuts and seeds.
Tip #8: Use the Plate Method for Balanced Meals
The Plate Method is my favorite, and only real guide I like to use for creating healthy, balanced meals and encompasses tips 4 through 7.
- ½ plate of vegetables
- ¼ plate protein
- ¼ plate carbohydrates
- Finish with fat
All food groups are included, you can adapt portions to your needs, you can tailor to your likes and preferences, all while supporting your body with nutrition packed ingredients and a plate that will work together to balance blood sugars (aka – give you more energy, more stable mood, and regulate cravings)
That being said, not every meal has to be a plate method meal! See tip #10 – I saved the best for last.
Tip #9: Schedule It to Make It Real
When struggling to create a new habit, someone once told me “schedule it to make it real”, and it works! This is the same advice I share with clients with meal planning and meal prep.
Get it in your calendar.
Hold it as a priority like you would an appointment with your doctor or dietitian!
If you don’t, something more fun or exciting is surely to come up and take its place, leaving you ordering up Uber eats yet again this week only to try again next week.
And trust me! Meal Prep and meal planning can be so much more simple than you think! Spend just 1 hour prepping some core ingredients that you can mix and match into different meals throughout the week!
It will save you HOURS of your time, get dinner on the table in a fraction of the time, and save you a ton of money from ordering in and wasting food!
If you want to try out my 1 hour weekly meal prep method, you can download a sample of The 3-2-1 Method meal plans here for free! *original and vegan options available!
Dietitian-designed mealplans ready to go!
Want 4 weeks of grocery lists, recipes and 20 minute meals all planned out for you? Check out The 3-2-1 Method meal plans and free up hours of your time every week!
Tip #10: Allow Flexibility in Your Eating
While guidelines like filling half your plate with veggies, and following the plate method are great foundational tools, not every meal has to look like this! Some days you might just feel like a slice of pizza, no salad on the side; or that delicious creamy ice cream is calling your name – please go ahead and enjoy every bite!
Being flexible in your eating, listening to your body, and giving yourself permission to enjoy all foods without guilt are possibly the most important healthy eating tips in my books as they are key to a feel good relationship with food!
There you have it, my 10 healthy eating habits that are sure to help you feel better not just physically, but mentally and emotionally too! I’d love to hear which one you’re going to try out first!
If you enjoyed this post I’d love to hear what you found most helpful in the comments below. And if you practice any of the tips, share them on your Instagram stories and tag me @lindsaypleskot and #makefoodfeelgood so I can celebrate with you!
And if you’re looking for more personalized support, we’d love to chat with you! Book in for a free discovery call here to see how we can help!