Eating healthy is a goal for many people, but it can come with some challenges. You have to find the right mix of foods for your body, learn how to prepare healthy meals, find the time to shop and cook, and do it all while sticking to your budget. It sounds like a lot of work, but the benefits to your overall health from improving your diet can’t be overstated. If you are looking to start eating healthier, here are six things you can begin doing right away.
1. Know the Source
The easiest way to start eating healthier is to know where your food comes from and what is in it. That means reading ingredient labels and seeing where the food originated. Look also for seals of approval from regulatory or watchdog agencies such as the ILSI. Buying local will not only help you support the local economy, but it helps ensure your food is fresh. Opt for produce that is grown within 50 miles of your home, or packaged foods that are produced within your country. This will give you the best nutritional value for your money.
2. Swap the Snacks
Many diets will advise dropping snacks from your day, or only eating during certain hours. That can be a big change and sticking to the new plan can be hard. You can start smaller by swapping unhealthy snacks, like candy or sugary foods, for healthier ones. For example, opting for a sliced apple and peanut butter is a much better choice than a chocolate bar, and it can even help you feel fuller for longer.
3. Go Round the Grocery Store
Eating healthier also comes from changing up your visits to the grocery store. Rather than going up and down the aisles, try getting most of your food from the outer edges of the store. This is where you’ll find produce, meats, dairy, and fresh-baked bread. Filling your basket with these foods, rather than the packaged and processed foods that line the aisles, is an excellent way to stock your pantry and fridge with nutritious options.
4. Take the Classes
Buying all the healthy food in the world won’t do you much good if you don’t know how to prepare it. If your schedule allows for it, sign up for some in-person cooking classes to learn some new skills. If your free time is more limited, try watching cooking tutorials online to up your game. Knowing how to prepare a few good meals can help diversify your diet, as well as make mealtime way more enjoyable.
5. Explore the Menu
Cooking at home with fresh ingredients is a wonderful way to eat healthier, but sometimes your schedule or situation just doesn’t allow for it. Eating out doesn’t mean you have to eat badly, though. Take the time to explore the menu and choose healthier options. Dump the fried food for the grilled, switch a salad dressing to a lighter vinegarette, or even add a fruit cup or plate on the side. You just may find your new favorite meal this way.
6. Clip the Coupons
Stock up on healthy food for less by clipping coupons. Check the weekly sales ads for your local grocery stores, use couponing and rebate apps such as Ibotta and Fetch Rewards, and take advantage of buy one, get one sales. Save even more by planning out your weekly meals and sticking to a list. Every cent that you save can mean more healthy snacks or dinner options, or even extra money towards the occasional meal out with friends.
Eating healthier doesn’t have to mean making huge changes to your diet. It can start small, by making conscious decisions to eat better. Swap out snacks, try new entrees, improve your cooking skills, and switch up the grocery routine to get yourself on a better nutritional track. Your body will thank you for the effort you put in, and you just may see your overall health improve.