What does healthy food mean to you? To me, healthy food is included in a varied, nutrient-dense diet that keeps my body functioning well. But in a world where unhealthy food is so available, it can be difficult to define and follow through with healthy eating. Busy schedules, misinformation, poor planning and low motivation can make healthy eating extremely challenging.
Here are six tips on how you can get back on track with healthy eating.
1. Stop the dieting and food rules. Restriction and deprivation doesn't work as it’s not a sustainable style of eating.
2. Plan and prep ahead. When you are prepared, you make better food choices. Plus, by learning how to be a great meal/snack planner, you will create long-lasting go-to strategies for maintaining healthy eating habits even during your most busy, stressful and exhausting times in life.
3. Don't make your meals too complicated. Keep healthy eating simple and eat to feel satisfied and energized.
4. Eat with a purpose beyond weight/body composition. Learn to eat mindfully. You deserve to eat enough food to honor your biological hunger but you also deserve to eat food that you enjoy. Eating should be pleasurable experience. You should love your diet. Healthy eating is so much more than just eating to look a certain way but instead, eating to do amazing things with your body. Define your eating purpose behind every meal and snack in your diet.
5. Create one new healthy eating goal each week and don't set a new goal until your previous goal becomes a habit. For example, your goal can be to eat breakfast every morning, to bring an afternoon snack to work every day, to have a recovery snack after every workout, to drink more water, to cook dinner at home two nights per week or to eat more vegetables at lunch. The idea behind a healthy eating goal is to create new strategies for change. If you have a goal of making dinner, you must figure out how you will make this happen. Stop the saying and start the doing. The only way you can sustain healthy eating is by creating a new lifestyle.
6. Leave space in your busy day for meal planning, prep and cooking. If you tell yourself that you do not have time to eat healthy, you need to adjust your priorities. Healthy eating may feel overwhelming if it is not yet a priority in your life. You can use a food delivery meal prep service or search through cookbooks for inspiration, but in order to eat healthy, healthy food needs to be available. By prepping and planning ahead, you will find yourself eating food that you love and feeling great about the foods that you put inside your body.
Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N is the owner of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC and holds a master of science in exercise physiology, is a USA Triathlon Certified Coach and a 11-time IRONMAN finisher. She enjoys public speaking, writing, plant-strong cooking and traveling. Learn more at trimarnicoach.com.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.