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Easy Tips to Eat Healthy for a Healthy Lifestyle
Eating healthy can be hard.
It’s so easy in today’s world to just pick up dinner on your way home from a busy and stressful work day. Or hit up your snack cabinet instead of your veggie drawer when you’re hungry at home.
In most cases, these quick fix foods will taste good and satisfy your taste buds. But, they may cause you to feel unhealthy in the long run.
Eating healthy is the first step in living a healthy lifestyle.
The good part?
There are many steps you can take to eat healthy. Whether it is following a strict diet plan or simply trying to eat more vegetables, there is something that will work for you.
If you are committed to a healthy lifestyle, there is no doubt that you will be able to achieve it. Because you deserve to feel healthy every day. And you have the ability to feel healthy every day.
So, here are some tips for how to eat healthy or lose weight without dieting. This list may seem like a lot, but if you do one of them per week or month, think about how much progress you’ll make over time? They will make you feel stronger, energized, and happy.
How to Eat Healthy Tips by Category
Jump to the section by clicking on its name below.
What to Eat for a Healthy Diet
Eat Real Food (But Not Too Much)
It’s pretty simple. Eat real food. Or whole food that you can actually grow.
Avoid the middle aisles at the grocery store. Most of the packaged foods you’ll find there contain “empty calories”. Or calories that do not have any nutritional value.
Alternatively, stick to foods in the below categories. These are nutrient dense foods that provide high value nutrients that your body needs..
Meat & Fish
Legumes & Beans
Nuts & Seeds
Eat Mostly Plants
The last few tips put together may sound familiar. It comes from author and food activist Michael Pollan. His diet philosophy after years of research into the food system:
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Plant based foods are high in vitamins and minerals, but low in calories. So, they help you feel full while adding nutrition, but not inches to your waistline.
But, wait. There’s more…
According to Harvard University, a vegetable packed diet can help protect against heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer, and high blood pressure. Vegetables are packed with nutrients including potassium, fiber, folic acid and vitamins A, E and C. Vegetables also have a positive impact on digestion and blood sugar control.
Eat a Balanced Meal with MyPlate
Maybe the “food pyramid” that I grew up learning was accurate in an alternate universe. But, in this world, it’s not. I’m not going to link to it because I don’t want to give it any press.
Fortunately, the USDA has new guidelines called MyPlate that outline what a balanced meal should look like. This is much better.
Drink More Water
You can go about 3 weeks without food.
But, you can only go about 3 days without water.
So, water is important. It helps our body function properly. Drinking more water is never going to be a bad thing.
Eat More Eggs
According to Healthline, eggs are one of the most nutritious types of food on the planet.
Think about it, one egg contains all the nutrients that are needed for an embryo to grow into a chick.
Eat more eggs because they lead to eating less, contain at least a little bit of most nutrients you need including healthy fats, and raise good cholesterol. This vegetable frittata is a good place to start.
Choose Foods with Healthy Fats
My eighth grade science teacher used to tell us “fat is where it’s at”.
But, I think he meant to say “healthy fat is where it’s at”.
Choose fats from healthy oils, fish, avocado, seeds, and nuts to name a few.
According to EatRight, healthy fats help your brain and nervous system function, lower cholesterol levels, support heart health, and protect against inflammation.
Choose Healthy Oils
The nutrition labels on oils can be scary. Those fat values are so darn high.
But, don’t be scared. Healthy oils like olive or avocado oil actually help your body absorb the beneficial nutrients of other foods. They also contains antioxidants, reduces inflammation, and even helps protect against strokes and heart disease.
I use extra virgin olive oil for pretty much everything. But coconut and avocado oil are also healthy options. Read more about each of these benefits of olive oil here on Healthline.
Stay away from process oils like vegetable, canola, and sunflower oil. These have been refined, removing some of their nutritional value.
Limit Sugar, Trans Fat, and Refined Carbs Intake
If there are only a few ingredients to look out for, it’s these three.
Sugar has been linked to diabetes and obesity (source: Healthline).
Trans fats have been shown to increase bad cholesterol and the risk of heart disease (source: Mayo Clinic).
Refined carbs like white bread are carbohydrates that have been processed to remove their most healthy parts. According to Medical News Today, refined carbs cause blood sugar spikes after eating. They have been linked to obesity and diabetes.
Avoid “Diet” and “Low-Fat” Foods
Don’t fall for the marketing tricks of “diet” or “low-fat” foods.
First off, foods with these types of labels are most likely highly processed with additives and preservatives. Have you ever seen a banana or head of kale labelled as low-fat? Nope.
In addition, there are likely trade-offs that were made to still make this food taste good.
If it’s labelled low-fat, it’s probably high in sugar. If it’s diet, it’s probably packed with artificial sweeteners that offer no nutritional value to our bodies.
Drink Black Coffee
Depending on how much you currently gussy up your coffee (if you even drink coffee), this could be one that takes some time.
Skip the sugar and drink your coffee black.
This will be easier if you drink lighter roast coffees. These will be less bitter and easier to drink without adding anything to them.
Your best bet is your local coffee shop. I’ve found Starbuck’s coffee to be super dark and bitter, so you should work your way up to there.
How to Eat for a Healthy Diet
Eat a Salad Every Day
Why should you eat a salad every day?
Because they satisfy the healthy diet guides of real food, not too much, and mostly plants.
Want to get started with salads? Check out these posts:
Eat Slowly and Mindfully
Studies like this one have shown that faster eating is related to a higher body mass index. So, slow down.
Ever wonder how we can overeat only to feel really full 20 minutes later?
Well, when you eat too fast, there isn’t enough time for your belly to tell your brain that you’re full. Give your brain time to catch up by eating slower and more mindfully.
You’ll enjoy your food and the eating process more.
Eat Your Greens and Veggies First
Eating healthy greens and vegetables first is advantageous for two reason.
The first reason is that they are the most nutritious things on your plate. So, you want to make sure you get all of their nutritional benefits instead of being too full to eat them.
Secondly, they will make you feel full. So, you’ll eat less over the course of the meal.
Use Smaller Plates
Smaller plates = smaller portions.
That’s all I have to say about that.
Use Your Non-dominant Hand to Eat (e.g., the “fork trick”)
I don’t like gimmicks or tricks, but this is a fun one that may be worth a try.
Instead of using your dominant hand, try holding your fork and eating with your non-dominant hand. It will help you eat slower.
Plus, it will help you train to be ambidextrous.
Before Eating Out – Check Out the Menu for Healthy Options
If you eat out sparingly, then you may use your restaurant meals as a treat (like I do). So, I’m not always looking for the healthiest option.
But, if you do eat out a lot, make sure you check the restaurant menu for healthy options before going. This way, you are prepared with your order in case you get side tracked by your conversation. Most restaurants these days have plenty of healthy and healthy-ish options to choose from.
Limit the Number of Times You Eat Out
When you cook at home, you have full control of what goes into your food. This isn’t true when eating out.
Most (not all) restaurants aren’t focused on making their customers feel healthy. They are more interested in making their customers satisfied at a profit. This may mean large portions, more salt, and unhealthy oils.
Healthy Food Swaps
Eat Popcorn Instead of Other Salty Snack Foods
Popcorn is actually a whole grain. As long as you keep the toppings healthy and at a reasonable amount, it can be a nutritional snack.
The other key to making popcorn healthy is popping the kernels yourself. The microwavable bags are loaded with salt and fat.
Another tip: Try using healthy extra virgin olive oil instead of butter to top.
Eat Fresh or Frozen Fruit Instead of Dried Sweetened Ones
Don’t get the old “sweetened fruit” trick played on you. Opt for fresh or frozen fruit. Avoid dried fruit that has been sweetened.
If a piece of fruit needs to be topped with sugar before eaten, it’s probably not a high quality piece of fruit to begin with.
Find a New Favorite Take-out Restaurant that is Healthier
If you do need to order takeout, find a healthy-ish option that you love. I’m sure there is one that exists near you.
Think sushi (but not fried and loaded with sauces) instead of Chinese food, grilled instead of fried chicken, and tacos instead of pizza.
If I’m away from home and need a quick healthy bite to eat, I always look for a Panera or Chipotle. They both have fairly healthy menu options that use real food. At home, we have a nearby sushi spot that has a great option of simple and fresh rolls.
Eat Whole-Grain Bread Instead of White Bread
Whole grains have more nutrients, fiber, and protein than enriched or processed grains. They will leave you feeling more full. Plus, whole grains do not cause as large of a spike in blood sugar after eating.
When choosing bread, opt for whole grain or whole wheat. You’ll be happy you did after your meal.
Eat Roasted or Grilled Potatoes Over French Fries
If you think french fries need to be fried to be amazingly delicious, then you’ve never had properly roasted potatoes.
Roasted potatoes are browned, crispy, salty, and addictive. Roasted potatoes can be just as delicious. Plus, they’re super easy to make at home. Check out this roasted potatoes recipe from Minimalist Baker.
Drink Sugar-Free or Sparkling Water Instead of Sugary Drinks
Remember how we talked about skipping the snack aisle and not keeping unhealthy snacks in your house?
Well, add the sugary drink aisle to your list of aisles to skip over at the grocery store.
Sparkling water has been taking off over the past 5 or so years. Sales have skyrocketed and more and more brands seems to be popping up. Just take a look at these graphs.
So, if you are looking for a sugary drink alternative, there have never been more options than these sparkling waters. Just make sure whichever one you choose is sugar-free.
Healthy Cooking Tips
Cook a New Healthy Recipe Each Week
One of the best ways to maintain a healthy diet?
Learn to cook simple, healthy food at home.
Pick a day each week that you want to cook a new, healthy recipe. You’ll be cooking without recipes in no time.
Try one of these healthy salad recipes.
Roast or Grill instead of Frying
Roasting or grilling meats, vegetables, and potatoes can yield amazingly delicious foods.
Plus, frying food at home is pretty messy. Who likes having a pot full of hot oil just sitting out?
Try this roasted chicken recipe instead of making fried chicken. You’ll be sold on roasting because of how easy, delicious, and healthier it is.
Portion and Store Leftovers Before Eating
Setting aside leftovers before eating is a lifesaver. It is a fool-proof method for portion control.
Just doing this one tip will save you so much internal angst and debate about whether you should have that extra serving at the dinner table.
Plus, you’ll have lunch made for the next day.
Which brings me to the next tip…
Turn One Meal Into Multiple Meals
For a healthy diet to be sustainable it must be simple and satisfying.
One way to crank up the simplicity of your diet is to always scale up your meals so you have leftovers. You shouldn’t have to cook every day.
Making a healthy grain salad like this one for dinner for you and your partner?
Double the recipe. Put out two dinner plates and two resealable containers. Distribute the grain salad evenly into the 4 containers. Now you have dinner and lunch for the next day.
To keep your leftovers happy, check out this post on the best salad containers.
Make and Follow a Meal Plan
A meal plan isn’t for everyone, but it can be helpful if you are just starting out on your healthy cooking journey.
Plan each week or multiple weeks by noting down the dishes you want to make each day. Then develop a shopping list, get your groceries, and follow your plan.
Want to try out a simple meal plan? Check out this 5 Day Salad Challenge for my take on healthy meal plans.
Learn to Make Healthy Food Taste Amazing
You can do it.
You can learn to cook simple, healthy meals. And make them taste great.
Start with this guide on how to make salads.
General Tips for How to Eat Healthy
This isn’t exactly eating related, but being active is very important to a healthy lifestyle.
If you are active and eat healthy, then you’ve checked off the big ticket items that you need to be physically healthy.
There are a million ways to be active: walk, run, jog, bike, lift weights, join a fitness class, etc. All are beneficial. Here are some more ideas.
I have an energetic border collie dog that leaves me no choice but to run with him. So, maybe you should get a dog?
I have quite the appetite when I’m really active. Which is awesome because I love to eat. And I don’t feel guilty about having a little extra because my body needs the fuel.
Read Nutrition Labels
Nutrition labels can seem complicated. The really important things can get lost in all of the percentages, weights, calories, serving sizes, vitamins, minerals, and more. So, how do you know what to focus on?
Keep it simple and scan for these things to get started with label reading:
Zero or minimal added sugar – this is under carbohydrates
No trans fat
An ingredient list on the shorter side with foods you can mostly pronounce.
For more things to look for on a nutrition label, check out this article from Shape.
Make and Follow a Shopping List
Want to avoid impulse buying at the grocery store? Make a commitment to yourself that you’re only going to buy the items you’ve already determined you need.
So, make a list and check it twice.
Not because Santa is coming to town. But, because it’s easier to avoid the temptation of the snack aisle when you have a list you’ve committed to.
Keep Your Freezer Stocked With Fruit
Frozen fruit is picked at peaked ripeness then rapidly frozen. So, frozen fruit will taste great. Plus, it lasts way longer than fresh.
Keeping a bag in your freezer makes it so easy to add more fruit to your diet.
I really like berry blends. A few spoonfuls of this gets microwaved and added to my oats almost every morning.
Don’t Keep an Inventory of Snacks in Your House
The easiest way to avoid snacking?
Don’t have them available in the first place.
Want to kick your Hot Cheetos habit? Completely skip the salty snacks aisle the next time you’re at the grocery store.
It’s that simple.
If you do want to have snacks around, opt for healthier ones like these 29 from Healthline.
Know That Not All Smoothies Are Healthy
Smoothies can be jam packed with health benefits. And many are. Especially if you make them yourself.
But, smoothies can be tricky for two reasons.
First off, they are typically a full meal in liquid form. So, even though they are easier to consume, it is important to remember that they still contain a lot of calories.
Secondly, pre-bought smoothies are often loaded with sugar. For example, this store bought smoothie has sugar as its second ingredient and has 39 grams of it.
So, be careful the next time you buy pre-made smoothies or order take-out from a smoothie bar.
Choose Healthy Snacks When on the Go or Travelling
It’s not always easy to find healthy snacks at roadside gas stations, highway rest stops, and airports.
Nuts and whatever healthy-ish bar I can find that isn’t loaded with added sugars are usually my go-tos.
KIND bars are lifesavers. They taste amazing, some of them have less than 5 grams of sugar, and are widely available. This dark chocolate and sea salt one is my favorite.
Here is a great list of healthy snacks you can get at the airport from Men’s Health.
Lastly, Don’t Try to Be Perfect
Eating is so much fun.
So, don’t take all the fun out of it by stressing about it too much. Or trying to be perfect with your diet.
Did you have dessert the night before? Run an extra 5 minutes tomorrow. Eat out Friday night? Then eat in Saturday and Sunday.
If there is anything I can guarantee you it’s that you will be eating for the rest of your life. So, it’s worth spending time educating yourself of how to feel healthy while doing so.
What’s Next? Take One Day at a Time.
Food is awesome. Healthy food that tastes great is even better.
One of the ways I have been able to eat healthy food every day is by learning how to make salads.
You will learn everything you need to know about how to make salads work for you in this this Ultimate Guide on How to Make Salads.
If you want to jump straight into salad recipes, here are 11 Healthy Salads You’ll Actually Want to Eat.