Beginners Guide to a healthy diet

At some point in everyone’s life, going on a diet seems like something you want to do. There are multiple reasons for wanting to go on a diet, the main one being weight loss.

While every body type is beautiful, sometimes people feel more confident in their body if they lose some weight. This is especially common with media promoting a particular body type that people should be.

Another common reason for people wanting to start a diet is to take care of their physical health. There are certain diseases (that we will go over in this article) that are reduced with healthy eating.

Sometimes doctors will recommend changing your eating habits in order to help your overall physical health. In a 2017 study, it was found that dietary risks were responsible for 11 million deaths globally.

So it makes sense that people would turn to diet in order to help their health.

An overlooked reason for wanting to go on a diet is to improve your mental health. Eating healthy and delicious meals can make you feel better in your day-to-day life.

When people are in a low state, they are prone to craving unhealthy foods. This can create a subconscious link between negative thoughts and junk food.

The reason we crave junk food is that it provides us with a short burst of happiness and the sugar in it is addictive.

Junk food is also designed to be easy and convenient, so people with little time will find it to be a necessary sacrifice to eat. Fighting the craving to eat junk food is one of the hardest parts of staying on a healthy diet.

It seems that every New Years people vow to go on diets, which then quickly fail. This is because most of them choose to follow a fad diet or decide to completely cut junk food out of their diet.

This harsh change in their diet can actually do more harm than good as your body will try to store any and all fat you give to it instead of burning it. The key to a healthy and successful diet is balance.

While dieting isn’t easy, it isn’t impossible. In this guide, we will lay out exactly why dieting can be beneficial, and how you can start one that will work for you and allow you to keep your body in a healthy condition.

The Importance Of A Healthy Diet

The importance of a healthy diet

It is always intimidating to start a diet, which is why it is important to keep your reasons for starting your diet at the forefront of your mind. Without a reason for dieting, you will struggle to successfully start one.

It is important to not immediately jump into a restrictive diet, you want to make gradual changes that you are comfortable with and can stick to.

Your diet has to suit your lifestyle rather than changing your life to adhere to a diet.

Restrictive diets can cause you to have yo-yo weight loss and get a fear of certain foods. The truth is you should love your diet and what it is doing to your body.

While there are many benefits of a healthy diet and how it helps your body, we have outlined only a few below for you to consider.

Fuels Your Body

Everyone knows that food is what we use in order to fuel our bodies, but certain foods do a better job than others. While food that is high in sugar can give you a quick burst of energy, it doesn’t last.

Ideally, you want foods that will provide you with a slow release of energy so that you are less likely to be hungry later in the day or excessively tired.

This is why a healthy breakfast is so important. People tend to skip breakfast because they aren’t hungry when they wake up or they are skipping meals in order to lose weight.

This is not a healthy mindset as breakfast is the meal that provides you with the fuel you need in order to start your day. A healthy breakfast can lay the foundation for healthy meals throughout the day.

If your body isn’t properly fueled then it can’t function efficiently and your health will suffer.

The lack of food will make you tired which will impair your judgment and your body will crave sugar foods in order to get energy quickly.

Lowers Your Risk Of Diseases

Lowers your risk of diseases

As previously mentioned, a healthy diet can help to limit the risks of certain diseases.

The main one people think of when it comes to food is diabetes. A healthy diet can help to reduce the chance of getting diabetes.

It was found that just by eating whole fruits regularly, the chance of getting type 2 diabetes is reduced by 36%.

A healthy diet can also reduce the chance of heart disease as it can improve the cardiovascular system.

A part of dieting is reducing processed foods, some of which have been found to include carcinogens. This means going on a diet can help to reduce the chance of certain cancers as well.

It is important to consult with your doctor beforehand about what diets may suit you if you have a family history of certain diseases.

Provides Necessary Nutrients

A healthy body requires the necessary nutrients in order to function properly, and you can’t achieve that through only eating unhealthy foods.

Below is a list of some of the nutrients that the body needs to function properly.

  • Fiber – Fiber is needed to aid in digestion. It can be found in beans and whole grains.
  • Magnesium – Magnesium is used to help with bone health. It can be found in kale and nuts.
  • Potassium – Potassium aids in blood pressure. It can be found in dried fruits and bananas.
  • Vitamin A – Vitamin A is needed to protect against infection. It can be found in meat and cheese.
  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C is needed to aid in iron absorption. It can be found in tomatoes and citrus fruits.

Learning The Basics

 Learning the basics

People who are beginning their diet will usually find them to be overwhelming. This is because there are so many diets out there and you will find many people trying to tell you which ones to use.

What you need to do is find a diet that will work for you and only when you are ready. It may seem trivial, but you need to be emotionally ready to start a diet.

You won’t find immediate results after starting a diet and emotionally you may start to criticize yourself about your progress which can negatively affect your eating habits.

Dieting is a slow process, and finding one that works for you is a large first step to make. No 2 diets are the same which is why yours needs to be tailored to you.

So we have laid out the basics surrounding a healthy diet so you can start to craft a diet that will work for you.

Nutrient Density

You need to understand the nutritional values of food and what your body needs. The goal is to be able to have a diet that can provide you with everything you need so that you don’t need to take supplements.

Understanding your personal health is a key step in this, if you are naturally deficient in some nutrients then you will need to work your diet to include more of them.

You can find foods that are high in nutrients and delicious. Remember, we don’t want to hate our diet so forcing yourself to eat certain foods isn’t going to help you in the long run.

Everything has a different amount of nutrients, the key is finding a balance and being able to craft a functional diet around them.

Trying to get a certain amount of nutrients into your diet isn’t the same as calories. You can have foods that are high in calories but are also low in nutrients.

While you can consume the recommended amount of calories in a day, it is more important you eat nutrient-dense foods that can fill you up and you are happy to consume.

Calorie counting can also have a negative impact on your mental health as you will be so focused on reaching a certain number that you won’t actually enjoy your food.

“When you conceptualize healthy eating, your first thought might be about calories. Even though calories are important, your primary concern should be nutrients.

That’s because nutrients, including protein, carbs, fat, vitamins, and minerals, are what your body needs to thrive. “Nutrient density” refers to the amount of nutrients in a food in relation to the calories it provides.

All foods contain calories, but not all foods are nutrient-dense.”
(https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-eat-healthy-guide)

Diet Diversity

Diet diversity

You don’t need to have a salad for every meal if you are on a diet. Finding diverse meals is just as important as eating healthy foods.

Not only is it better for your body as it gives it a variety of nutrients, but it also improves your mental state as you won’t get bored with your meals.

If you are a picky eater, then try slowly introducing new foods into your diet. Hidden vegetables are a great way of getting nutrients into your food without the taste of them.

“Following a diet that’s rich in different kinds of food supports your gut bacteria, promotes a healthy body weight, and protects against chronic disease”

(https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-eat-healthy-guide)

Macronutrient Ratios

Macro nutrients ratios

Macronutrients are the main nutrients you will find in your food, this includes carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

These are needed not only to help your body function but also to keep you satisfied for longer. You don’t need to count the macronutrients you consume, instead aim to have a balanced amount.

Understanding the basic macronutrients in foods can help you experiment with your food as you know exactly what you need to create a meal plan that will keep you full for longer.

“Macronutrients — the main nutrients you get from food — are carbs, fat, and protein. (Fiber is considered a type of carb.)”
(https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-eat-healthy-guide)

High Processed Foods

These are the foods that you buy off a shelf that have ingredients like preservatives and chemicals.

These foods are typically high in calories and low in nutrients. They are also the cause of increased chance of heart disease and certain cancers.

One goal of a healthy diet is to cut down on these types of food. You want your meals to consist of simple foods with no additives that are from the earth. This means vegetables, fruits, meat, and whole grains.

It may seem like a simple shift, but it is an important one. In fact, this is one of the best ways of starting a diet that can actually help you get a healthy body.

This doesn’t mean you have to completely cut out processed food. As we previously mentioned, a restrictive diet doesn’t help in the long run.

You merely want to cut back your consumption of them. Processed foods tend to be cheaper and more convenient so completely cutting them out isn’t feasible for some people’s lifestyles.

“One of the best ways to improve your diet is to cut back on ultra-processed foods. You don’t have to avoid processed foods completely.

In fact, many healthy foods like shelled nuts, canned beans, and frozen fruits and veggies have been processed in one way or another.

In contrast, highly processed products like soda, mass-produced baked goods, candy, sugary cereals, and certain boxed snack food contain little if any whole food ingredients.”

(https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-eat-healthy-guide)

10 Top Tips

Top 10 Tips

Most diets are about breaking out habits that you have created about food. This could be eating particular foods daily, or buying the same processed foods every week.

The goal of this guide is to show you that a diet needs to work for you. This means that what works for someone else, may not work for you.

It is hard to stay motivated to keep on a diet, with more than half of weight loss being regained after 2 years, and over 80% being regained by five years.

Ultimately, you want to eat quality food that is good for you, rather than ones that are low in calories.

Having a flexible diet that you can work around your existing daily routine is a fantastic way to stay motivated about it.

Below we have outlined 10 tips that we find are great when starting out your diet journey.

You don’t have to follow every single one of these tips every day, even a slight change to a healthier diet is better than no change at all.

Eat More Fruits And Vegetables

As stated, having a nutrient-rich diet is the best way to keep your body working properly. Fruit and vegetables not only taste good but they are crammed full of nutrients.

Broccoli, apples, and avocados are a few foods that are high in fiber. Fiber is needed to keep your digestive system functioning.

Fiber is technically a type of carbohydrate but your body doesn’t break it down which is why it passes through the digestive system.

Magnesium can be found in spinach, edamame, and figs which are needed for your bone health. This is because 60% of your body’s magnesium is stored in your bones and can help to rebuild bone cells.

Foods like potatoes, squash, and melons are good sources of potassium. Potassium not only helps to maintain blood pressure which can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, but it also helps your muscles function.

Your body needs all kinds of vitamins in order to keep it healthy. One of them is vitamin A which can be found in carrots, lettuce, and bell peppers.

Vitamin A can help to keep your skin and eyes healthy, while also protecting your body against illness.

Another vitamin that your body can gain from a healthy diet is vitamin C. This can be found in kiwis, strawberries, and grapefruit.

Vitamin C helps the iron absorption in your body and also your skin and gum health. A lack of iron can cause fatigue and dizziness.

A great way to get more fruit and vegetables into your diet is by choosing the plant-based options of certain foods.

This is because they will have more vegetables in them in order to compensate for the lack of other ingredients.

This doesn’t mean you need to swap to a vegetarian or vegan diet, there are many nutrients in meat that you can’t easily find in fruit and vegetables like protein.

Ideally, you should be eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day at a minimum. The more you eat, the better. This number ensures you are getting the right amount of nutrients and eating a variety of foods.

These portions can be done in smoothies or juices for ease of consumption. You are able to have 3 portions of fruit in 1 drink that you consume in the morning.

It’s best to make these drinks at home in a blender so that you know there are no added preservatives or sugars.

Add Whole Grains To Your Diet

Whole grains are a key part of a healthy diet, not just because they are rich in nutrients, but because they are able to create a filling meal.

There are 3 parts of grain, bran, endosperm, and germ. Each of these parts can provide different nutrients to the body.

The bran is the outer layer of the grain and is high in fiber and vitamin B. Fiber helps with the digestive system, whereas vitamin B helps to convert food into energy. The bran layer is also rich in antioxidants.

The middle layer is the endosperm, which contains carbohydrates and protein. It is the largest part of the grain and is the germ’s food supply.

The final part of a grain is the germ which is the part that could potentially sprout into a plant. This part contains vitamin B, healthy fats, and Vitamin E.

We will go into depth about healthy fats later on in the guide and vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant.

Overall, whole grains can greatly improve your gut health, cholesterol levels, and cardiovascular health.

It is important to know the difference between whole grains and white or refined grains.

White or refined grains have a lot of the nutrients removed from them, so when you are shopping aim for whole grain pasta and bread, oats, brown rice, and quinoa.

Portion Control

Portion Control

Portion control is one of the easiest ways to lose weight. Many people find themselves eating larger portions than their body needs. Every product will typically say the recommended serving size.

When serving yourself a plate you want it to be equal parts fruits/vegetables and whole grains. Across the food, you want at least a third of it to contain healthy oils like the ones found in avocados.

This way you know you are creating not only a healthy meal but one that will keep you fuller for longer.

You want to eat when you are hungry, this sounds a lot easier than it is. If you eat your meals slower, then it gives your body more time to digest so you won’t feel stuffed and bloated after a meal.

Limit Your Processed Foods

As we stated, processed foods should be limited but not avoided. This is more of a lifestyle change rather than a diet. Many people call this clean eating as it involves fewer preservatives and calories.

You want this change to be long-term. This involves home-cooked meals and snacks that provide nutrients. Not only do these changes help your body, but we believe they taste better.

Most processed foods provide little nourishment and won’t make you feel satisfied in the long run, but this doesn’t mean they are all bad.

Some foods are only partially processed like frozen meat and canned vegetables which still contain some nutrients but are also convenient.

Prepare Your Meals

Home-cooking your meals is a fantastic way to avoid processed foods and put more fruit and vegetables in your diet.

By home-cooking your meals it was found that the average person consumed 62.3g more fruit and 97.8g more vegetables a day.

By preparing your own meals you know exactly what goes into your food so you can add your favorite flavors with ease. Cooking is also fun and can be relaxing for a lot of people.

You can experiment with your food in order to make it more healthy. Some easy ways to do this are cutting off the excess fat on the meat or swapping butter for coconut oil.

Knowing how to cook is an essential life skill, and you don’t need to cook every meal you eat for a healthy diet. Simply cooking more than you already do is enough.

Have A Weekly Food Plan

Knowing exactly what meals you are eating through the week can help you cut down on eating junk food. This is because you won’t have to rely on the convenience of junk food as you already have a meal in mind.

Meal planning also helps make shopping an easier experience. You know exactly what you are buying and what it is going to be used for.

This process also helps to reduce food waste as everything has a purpose. Just make sure you don’t go shopping while you are hungry as that can cause you to buy items you don’t need.

Make sure you also stock up on some healthy snacks, some good choices are fruit, crackers, yogurts, rice cakes, hummus, and vegetables.

When planning your weekly food you don’t need to track the calories and nutrients of every meal. Try to set realistic goals for what you want your food to achieve for that week.

Drink A Liter Of Water A Day

You may see some fad diets include detox juices, but in reality, the only way to really detoxify your body is to drink water.

Drinking more water may lead to extra toilet breaks, but it is well worth it. Get yourself a fun water bottle that is easy to carry so you can have your water on you at all times.

Constantly having your water will also stop you from drinking soda which is high in sugar.

If you don’t like the taste of water then you can add some fruits like lemons or strawberries for flavor.

Eat Healthy Fats

Fats are an essential part of a diet and get a bad reputation because of their name. There are many types of fats that you can get across foods, you just need to understand which of them are good for you.

Fat is used for your metabolism and can store energy which can keep you active throughout the day.

The fats to avoid are saturated and trans fats. Saturated fats raise blood lipids and cholesterol and should be consumed in moderation since they are hard to avoid.

Trans fats are very unhealthy for you but are fortunately rarely found in food.

Healthy fats involve unsaturated fats and omega-3. Unsaturated fats are good for heart health and omega-3 is found in fish and is beneficial to the heart and immune system.

Limit Your Intake Of Stimulants

Many stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol have high levels of sugar that can be detrimental to your diet.

You don’t need to completely remove stimulants from your diet, but it can help your health both physically and mentally if you limit yourself. Even having one less can of energy drink per week is a step in the right drink.

Balance Is Important

Balance is important

This is arguably the most important tip on this list. Having a balanced diet is the best way to get a healthier body without feeling burdened by your diet choices.

You are able to have a dessert every now and then, don’t be afraid to treat yourself. You shouldn’t have ‘cheat days’ on a balanced diet.

If you feel you need to assign a special day to eat whatever you want then you have failed the idea behind a balanced diet.

Eating food should be an enjoyable experience, you enrich all your senses with one meal. This is why it is important to find foods that are good for you and you enjoy.

You want to restrict the foods you eat, not cut any out. You want to have all the food groups involved in your diet for the best diet possible.

Remember that your diet is yours, not someone else’s. If someone finds their diet works best by having 10 portions of fruits and vegetables a day, don’t let that dishearten you about your portions.

Everyone’s body and mentality work differently and that should be celebrated rather than compared.

Summary

Eating a healthy diet is the key to a happy and long life. It was found that on average people increased their life expectancy by 3-6 years by following a healthy diet.

While this number does depend on other health factors, it is still a huge increase by simply eating a few fruits and vegetables.

Changing your diet is also a great way to try new things. You are able to rebuild your relationship with food by experiencing new parts of it that you wouldn’t have experienced by simply eating junk food.

Make sure to enjoy your food. Take time to eat and experience your food.

Don’t try to get it in your body as quickly as possible, give your brain time to register that you’re eating so your body can prepare for digestion better.

Staying motivated on a diet is not easy. It is a slow process that has no immediate effect, and sometimes you may not ever feel or see the results.

One of the downsides of seeing your body every day is that you see a gradual change that is hard to notice. Be kind to yourself, you are making progress even if you don’t see it.

Dieting is different for everyone, even people living the exact same lifestyle with the same diet will have different results simply because they have different bodies.

This is why it is so important to have a tailored diet for you as that is the only sure way to get results.

At the start of your diet journey, you should be aiming for progress, not perfection. Take every part of this journey step by step.

Small changes in your diet are easier to maintain and if you do enough of them then you have made a big change to your diet. There is no shame in taking your diet slowly.

You are changing a large part of your life so it makes sense that you are hesitant to do so.

Hopefully, this guide has shown you that a diet doesn’t have to be a large intimidating effect on your life.

Making simple but important changes to your diet that you can maintain is much more effective in making your body healthy when compared to fad diets.

So, get out there and start your new healthy life!

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