Easy healthy eating habits are an important part of the healthy living diet. They can make or break your success when it comes to health and weight loss.
What to eat and not eat are top of mind when it comes to health and weight loss, but little thought is usually given to how food is prepared and consumed. Best food preparation practices and how and when you eat are just as important as choosing quality nutritious foods for your body.
Nutritious food, proper food preparation, and easy healthy eating habits are the three pillars of a good meal plan. Good eating habits are not about rules or being perfect. They are about making mealtime more enjoyable and healthful for your mind and body in the long-term. They are about helping you digest well and assimilate the most nutrients from your food.
Feel free to adapt the suggestions below to fit your needs and lifestyle.
1-Adopt the Healthy Living Diet.
The healthy living diet is a food and easy healthy eating plan you can live with. It includes a wide array of nourishing foods and beverages as well as some leeway for not-so-good for you foods you like. Find out what to eat here.
2-Eat a nutritious breakfast.
Whether or not it is best to eat breakfast within an hour of waking or waiting until late morning is a topic under some debate.
Some research shows that eating an early breakfast is an important healthy eating habit. Other research shows that if you wait until 11 AM and exercise first, you will burn more fat all day and do better by your insulin levels.
Whenever you choose to break your fast, make it a nutritious meal that gets your body off to a good start. Have protein such as eggs, a chicken breast or a smoothie made of high quality plant protein powder (not soy) with greens. Breakfast is a great time to enjoy superfoods.
3-Stick to the 80-20 Rule for what you eat and for how much you eat.
On this meal plan you primarily eat whole, minimally processed healthy whole foods. At least 80% of your calories come from a wide variety of real foods that nourish your cells. If you want to know what those foods are, Jack LaLane said it best:
If God didn't make it, don't eat it.
In today's world this is a very difficult standard to achieve. That's why we have the 80-20 rule. It takes the edge off temptation and guilt, while still providing a nutritious diet.
You may indulge your 'junk food tooth' for up to a total of 20% of your calorie intake. Calorie counting is not necessary when you primarily eat nutritious, whole foods, but for illustrative purposes let's use this example: when consuming 1800 calories a day, up to 360 calories may come from processed foods. This includes beverages. Beware. Those calories add up quickly.
Also follow the 80-20 rule for how much you eat. Stop eating before you are full. This allows your stomach to do its job of churning and breaking down food without discomfort.
4-Practice traditional methods of food preparation.
Indigenous peoples naturally follow a healthy diet. They don't just eat healthy foods, but prepare them in nourishing ways. There is great wisdom in traditional food preparation. It neutralizes nutrient-blocking compounds, aids absorption, and preserves the quality of foods.
Some traditional practices are easy to incorporate into your cooking and healthy eating routine.
For delicious recipes and interesting information about dietary traditions and wholesome ways to prepare food, I highly recommend Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. It's my favorite cookbook.
If you have healthy foods at hand and ready to go you are more likely to eat them instead of reaching for unhealthy fast food.
I make big batches of this ultra-healthy soup almost every week in the winter and have it for lunch almost every day. I never get bored with it because the soup tastes a little different every time I make it depending on what goes in the pot.
The hearty soup shown here contains 13 bean soup mix (soaked overnight first), diced tomatoes, vegetable stock, mushrooms, onions, dulse flakes, a variety of vegetables, a big handful of kale, salt, curry powder and turmeric. It's also good with cut-up potatoes and a bit of leftover meat.
6-Eat your meals within a 8-10 hour window.
This healthy eating habit may take some getting used to if you are in the habit of eating whenever you want.
Eating two or three daily meals within an 8-10 hour window on most days has numerous health benefits. It improves insulin sensitivity, weight control and mitochondrial function.
Ease into this habit by cutting back an hour of eating time every few days. At a minimum, aim for 12 hours of fasting between your last meal or snack and breakfast. It is best to stop eating at least three hours before bedtime. Feel free to drink water, tea or coffee (unsweetened) whenever you want. Learn more in this short video.
7-Prepare your food with a good attitude and loving thoughts.
Everything is energy. Food prepared with negativity holds that energy. Food prepared with love and positive thoughts is a blessing.
If you are familiar with Dr. Emoto's experiments with water crystals, you'll remember that the words and thought transmitted to the crystals made them either beautiful and vibrant or ugly and sick looking. You are made up of about 75% water and so is most of your food.
Again, we can look to the wisdom of the ancients who blessed their food before eating it. They blessed and thanked the spirits of the animals and plants that provided it. Eat with the same spirit of gratitude.
If you are angry or stressed, calm yourself before eating. Stress interferes with digestion and increases cravings for carbohydrates and junk food.
Develop a healthy eating habit for your mind as well as your body. Feed your mind with a steady diet of nourishing, supportive, loving thoughts and positive emotions.
8-Sit at the table for mealtime.
Sitting at the table with family and friends isn't just for the movies. It is a healthy eating habit that nurtures mind, body, and spirit.
If you have a family, sit and eat a meal together at the table at least a few times a week without electronic distractions. Mealtime is the perfect tome to nourish your relationships, your spirit and your body at the same time. Research shows that children who eat with their families at least five times a week do better at school, have better eating habits, and are at less risk for substance abuse and weight problems.
Sharing a meal with friends and loved ones is the perfect opportunity to bond and build a sense of community. It fosters communication and a sense of well-being. Enjoying a relaxing healthy meal together also increases levels of the feel-good love hormone, oxytocin.
On the other hand, munching mindlessly in front of the TV makes eating more unconscious and is a good way to consume more food than you need.
Eating on the run or eating quickly is a recipe for indigestion ad overeating, especially if you're feeling stressed.
9-Remember why you eat.
We are talking about the health reasons here. The main reason you eat is to provide all the cells of your body with the nourishment and fluids needed for optimal functioning. Your cells need nutrients to do their jobs, to keep themselves healthy, and to replace themselves with new healthy cells.
If you are eating to alleviate stress, anxiety, food addiction, or boredom, take note. This kind of eating will often lead you to eat too much, too often, and too much of the wrong foods.
Bottom line - healthy cells equal a healthy you. And sure, if you also want to eat healthy foods (and a little junk) for pleasure and social bonding, that's great too.
10-Eat mindfully and slowly.
Do you wolf your food so fast that your brain can't signal you to stop eating before you are full? It takes around 20 minutes for your brain to send the signal to the body that it is full.
Are you so distracted by the TV or computer that you lose track of what you are eating and how much? If so, gift yourself time to just focus on your meal.
Chew thoroughly to start the digestion process in your mouth. This mixes your food with the enzyme in your saliva that breaks down carbohydrates. Stop eating after several bites and take a breath. When you are about 80% full stop eating. You'll eat less, enjoy it more, and your digestion will thank you.
Here is a simple mindfulness eating meditation to try:
Look at your plateful of food. Put a mouthful on your fork and notice how it looks and feels. Put it in your mouth and notice the taste and texture as you chew it. Notice how it feels as you swallow. After several mouthfuls, notice how your body responds to the food. Do you feel nourished and energized or yucky and blah?
You can start your meals like this or even an occasional full meal.
These easy healthy eating habits are an important part of your wellness lifestyle. How you eat and what you put in your body play a major role in the health of all your cells.
In addition, your relationship with food goes beyond what you eat. It is about listening to your body, preparing nourishing foods in healthful ways, guarding your thoughts and attitudes, and viewing eating as a positive, healthful experience.