As any dietician, fitness blogger or biology student will tell you — if you want to lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than your body is burning. While this simple rule can certainly be a useful tool to incorporate into your larger health and fitness plan, cutting calories does not make a healthy diet. In fact, over-prioritizing portion control can lead to negative health consequences of its own, without offering the desired benefit of improved wellness and fitness.
A healthy diet is, at its core, more about understanding what goes into the food you eat than it is about reducing portion sizes. If you can learn how to improve the foods you love, you can begin to make those foods fit into a holistic long-term diet that allows you to truly enjoy your relationship with the food you eat.
Learning healthy eating habits is essential if you want to achieve lasting results, improve longevity, boost your energy and elevate your overall wellness. To establish a holistic diet, you must first understand what nutrients your body needs to function at its highest potential. Then, you can begin to discover ways to incorporate those nutrients into your everyday diet. Here, we’ll dive into an easy-to-remember formula that can be used as a guide along the path to establishing healthy eating habits that last: inform, incorporate and indulge.
Inform: Are you getting the nutrients you need?
When you begin to understand what essential nutrients and ingredients to include in your diet, you can become empowered to make informed decisions when it comes to shopping and meal preparation. For those who are new to the world of healthy eating, however, understanding nutrition can feel like an insurmountable task.
If you want to create a more balanced and healthy lifestyle, it’s important to be informed about the nutrients you may be missing, and where to find them in the grocery aisle. Eating fresh ingredients and avoiding processed food, for example, can help guide you toward healthier options.
To avoid information overload, it’s important to stick to science. Conduct your research with reputable blogs and sites, and consult with a doctor or nutrition expert for any concerns you may have. Once you’ve established a baseline understanding, you can begin to choose foods that are rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Next, remember to check the nutrition labels on the foods you buy. While lengthy lists of ingredients may seem confusing, organizations like the Center for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Agriculture offer useful guides to help consumers understand the food labels they’re reading at the checkout counter. By making a conscious effort to pay attention to the ingredients in your food, you can be more mindful of avoiding unhealthy ingredients such as trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and sugars.
You may also consider working with a professional. Each person has different needs and goals — there is no one-size-fits-all diet plan. For this reason, it’s best to consult with a nutritionist, dietician or medical professional to assist you in designing a routine that will yield the most benefit for your specific health needs. Most personal care physicians can offer patients a referral for a reputable nutritional expert, and organizations like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offer referral resources.
Incorporate: How does nutrition fit into your lifestyle?
The next step in achieving a healthy diet is to incorporate those essential nutrients into your meal planning. With a working knowledge of your nutrition needs and health goals, you can begin to establish a sustainable, healthy lifestyle and build new habits.
It may seem daunting to completely overhaul your weekly grocery list, and such a stark change may be difficult to maintain — so start small. Incremental changes can build over time into a fulfilling lifestyle change that works for you.
For busy parents, students or people with limited mobility, shopping for fresh ingredients can be a challenge — especially during a global pandemic. To boost your diet, consider incorporating supplemental food products to help ease the transition. Incorporating high-quality fortifying products, like multivitamins, protein supplements, and additive powders, can be an effective way to reach your nutritional goals.
Consider products that offer a range of essential ingredients, such as protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, or vitamins like A, C and K. Nutrients such as these can support critical functions like brain development, and can protect against common health concerns like macular degeneration and cataracts. Many of these products, such as EasyKale, can be easily added to meals and beverages to help increase the amount of essential nutrients in your diet, without requiring a special trip to the grocery store.
These small lifestyle changes can bring about much larger health benefits, and lay the foundation for a more balanced diet.
Indulge: Are you making space for the foods you love?
Once you’ve established a strong routine with balanced meals and improved nutrition — remember to indulge on occasion! Many well-intentioned people fail in their diet plans when they view nutrition a tedious task, rather than a natural component of a more fulfilling lifestyle. Maintaining a health-conscious diet may feel like a chore if you completely eliminate the foods you enjoy most.
For any diet plan to be successful in the long term, it must hold space for the meals you love. Enjoy the foods that make you happy, and consider ways to improve them. It becomes easy to indulge when you are empowered with a thorough understanding of your nutritional goals, and how to include those nutrients in your regular meals. By substituting unhealthy ingredients and adding key vitamins and minerals to the recipes you enjoy, you may find that your favorite foods still have a place on a healthy dinner table.
Bilal Qizilbash is the Founder & CEO of EasyKale
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