If you’ve recently set some resolutions for the new year to eat healthier, that’s great! There’s never a bad time to start paying more attention to the bits and pieces that make up your well-being.
We want to help you stay on track with these healthy eating goals, so we want to frame the idea of healthy eating within the realm of wellness.
Wellness is a marathon, not a sprint. It encapsulates long periods of little choices and habits that come together to have a large impact.
From the foods you eat and the amount you sleep to the environment in which you live and how much you move around during the day—there are near-infinite factors that affect your health and the way you feel. This is important to keep in mind as you set and follow your healthy eating goals.
First off, your goals should be realistic, timely, attainable, and carried out by sustainable tactics. You shouldn’t expect yourself to lose more than a pound or two per month if your goal is weight loss, and you shouldn’t expect to cure all your fatigue by simply eating healthier.
The point is—wellness is a complicated beast, so be patient, don’t give up, and remember that it’s ok to “fall off the wagon.” Nobody is perfect; be nice to yourself throughout the whole journey!
Alright, back to the point at hand. Here are 4 tips that will help you stick to your healthy eating goals!
Your diet should be sustainable
Sustainability means a few different things in this context. First, the way you eat should be sustainable for your lifestyle! You shouldn’t just aim to eat as few calories as possible or to only consume certain types of foods.
In fact, this approach can actually cause more harm than good, causing you to feel unwell or even creating mental health complications surrounding food.
Make sure that the goalposts for your healthy eating aren’t causing you to punish yourself or take away enjoyment regarding food.
Signs of a diet that’s too restrictive could include avoiding social gatherings with food, struggling with “I can’t, but I want it”, prioritizing calories over enjoyment, constant hunger, and even fear of restaurant food. If you’re struggling with these issues, be sure to talk to your doctor, a dietician, or another healthcare provider who can give you guidance surrounding the details.
Another meaning of sustainability includes the environmental impact of what you eat. If you’re thinking about wellness holistically, your definition might include your carbon footprint and your place within the ecosystem!
If you’re entering this headspace, try to eat foods that are produced in a way that benefits the earth. Do some simple research, and just try to be mindful of where your food comes from!
Don’t label foods “good” or “bad”
The optimal approach towards eating is simple. You eat what you like, when you want, eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re satisfied.
Perhaps you’ll eat different foods on different occasions, with different ingredients that serve different purposes, and you might stick to a staple that works for your everyday routine. However, the reality is much more complicated.
As a society, we’ve stigmatized foods as “good” or “bad” depending on their contents. This literally puts a moral label on the food we eat, which can make us feel guilty or ashamed when we enjoy something from the “naughty list.” This isn’t the best way to live!
To stick to your healthy eating goals, you should be aware of this mindset and even try to move away from it. Obviously, you need to be aware of your health, nutrition, and the overall impact of your diet on your lifestyle, but you don’t need to project morality onto it!
Otherwise, you’ll find yourself feeling like you’ve misbehaved because you had a piece of cake on a friend’s birthday when that’s a totally normal and appropriate thing to do. It’s not fun to carry around guilt all day for normal things that shouldn’t even be labeled “right” or “wrong”!
Eat intuitively, with moderation
This tip takes a bit more practice. Eating intuitively includes listening to your body’s hunger cues and noticing how your diet makes you feel, then adjusting. Eating intuitively vs. tracking everything and restricting is a much more sustainable, enjoyable way to eat, but it does require a certain degree of self-control.
You might want to have dessert with every meal, but the reality is that approach will likely cause more harm than good. Always consider moderation, which goes hand-in-hand with intuitive eating!
Eat what you want, when you want it, but always act in the best interest of your body and overall wellness. Enjoy foods that deliver nutritional benefits while still satisfying you.
Take part in dessert, but rationally. You’re likely aware of best practices for yourself, so trust yourself to do what your body needs! You’ll know if you’re taking it too far, or not far enough. If you’re feeling too full or too hungry after every meal all the time, you need to listen to your body’s cues and adjust accordingly.
Enjoy foods that are filling and nutrient-dense, like beans
This last tip is a little more ingredient-specific, but it’s very helpful. Eating nutrient-dense foods like beans helps you to feel fuller for longer and give your body the fuel it needs to operate optimally. What are nutrient-dense foods, you might ask?
Nutrient-dense foods are foods that are high in nutrients (like lean protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, minerals, and fiber) while containing relatively low calories. They include things like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, seafood, eggs, peas, beans, and nuts.
Beans are an especially delicious and functional nutrient-dense food. They’re not a single-use food group either; you can incorporate them seamlessly into endless recipes! They can be used for dishes that are sweet, savory, salty or any other part of the flavor gamut. Plus, they contain great fiber, healthy fat, and lean protein content!
For some bean-spiration, be sure to check out our hundreds of healthy, delicious bean recipes.
As you go forward into the new year looking to eat healthier, arm yourself with the tips we’ve given you! Remember these 4 key takeaways to stick to your healthy eating goals:
- Your diet should be sustainable
- Don’t label foods “good” or “bad”
- Eat intuitively, with moderation
- Enjoy foods that are filling and nutrient-dense, like beans
Enjoy this new year, and be sure to try lots of delicious new recipes. Have fun, eat well, and live happily!