7 Tips on How to Develop Healthy Eating Habits

7 Tips on How to Develop Healthy Eating Habits

Developing good eating habits plays a huge role in putting yourself at the highest health and fitness levels.

The discipline of eating the right foods at the right amounts means you can maintain optimal body composition, stay away from illnesses like chronic inflammation — which has been associated with life-threatening diseases –, and ensure a better quality of life.

To turn yourself into a habitual healthy-eater, you would have to incorporate multiple changes in how and what you eat, and be consistent in doing them.

Follow these 7 tips and changes you should implement to make you eat healthier!

Know your macros

Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are your macronutrients that make up the food you eat. They can be divided into two categories: building-macros, and energy-giving macros.

Protein is the most important macro. It is used to build and repair tissues in the body.

It can also help you feel fuller for longer, and make you less likely to overeat.

How?

First, it is the most filling of the macronutrients; it takes up to 4 hours to digest.

Second, protein lowers the production of ghrelin, aka the hunger hormone. [1]

Thus, you should consume it for every meal. This also slows down the overall digestion of food.

Also, consume it in high amounts. The general guideline is to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

For a 160-pound man eating four times a day, every meal should contain 40g of protein or 150-200g of lean meat.

Carbs and fats are your energy-giving macros. If protein is accounted for, you can fill in the rest of your diet with these two depending on your preference.

Just make sure at least 80% of these macros you consume come from natural, whole-food sources — not junk.

Balance your meals

Balancing your meals means knowing how much of each food you should have on your plate.

Generally, you should have meat or a meat substitute, starches (like rice or potatoes), and a serving of vegetables.

First, you can measure and portion your food beforehand via meal prepping. This way, you can accurately measure your macro and calorie intake.

If that’s too tedious, you can simply use your hands to measure the portions of protein, carb, fat, and micronutrient sources on your plate.

  • Protein sources like cuts of beef, chicken, and fish should roughly equal the size of your palm.
  • Carb sources like potatoes, rice, and beans should roughly equal the size of your fist.
  • Fat sources like butter and cheese should roughly equal the size of your thumb.
  • Micronutrient sources like a leafy green salad should roughly equal the size of your open hand.

If you’re forced to skip meals because of other responsibilities or a tight schedule, you can opt for a meal replacement drink such as a mass gainer.

Mass gainers contain the macros you need so you won’t be leaving gaps in your quest for healthy eating. And, they’re quick and easy to make! You can even take them anywhere you go.

Exercise regularly

Exercising regularly has been shown to positively affect dietary choices.

In one study, formerly sedentary young adults who underwent several weeks of exercise were more inclined to choose lean meats and vegetables. In addition, their preference for junk food also decreased. [2]

If you’re going to exercise, then you might as well go hard. Studies show that the higher the intensity of a workout session, the more the hormone ghrelin is suppressed. Meaning, the less hungry you get.

Remember that to get the benefits of exercising stated above, you have to be consistent.

This could mean following a well-put workout plan or setting up a home gym so it’s easier to stay on top of things.

Be mindful of your satiety levels

Do not skip meals. If that is inevitable, then do not allow yourself to starve, at least.

When you are starving, your tendency to go for unhealthy food choices and to overeat increases.

That’s because your body goes into survival mode. It will tell the brain to eat anything and everything so it does not feel that way again.

The other side of the eating extreme is to eat until you are so full that you need to unbutton your trousers.

To avoid this, eat slowly. It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain to shut off the urge to eat.

If you eat too fast, you would have consumed more than you should have, and end up feeling unintentionally and uncomfortably full.

Limit highly-palatable foods

What exactly are highly-palatable foods?

These are foods that contain high amounts of sugar, fat, and often contain lots of salt and other flavorings.

With these characteristics, it’s not hard to see why they are unhealthy. But, it also makes them highly irresistible and, thus, easy to overeat.

Why can’t you get enough of them?

Well, this type of food activates the reward center of your brain. They have been shown to increase the release of neurotransmitters that make you feel good.

Your brain will keep telling your body to seek out these scrumptious treats, even when you are not hungry.

The easiest way to combat this is to not have them in your reach at all. Hence, avoid buying junk, highly-palatable food from the grocery.

You can still consume highly palatable food, but you are better off making them at home from healthy and macronutrient-dense ingredients.

You can try these natural mass gainer shake recipes for a sweet, decadent “cheat” that won’t derail your healthy eating efforts.

Follow a meal plan

To turn eating healthy into a habit, you must follow a meal plan. It establishes parameters for what you should be eating, how much to consume, and when.

When your meals and snacks are planned and prepared in advance, you are less likely to overeat, undereat, or opt for junk food because you will be mindful of the consequences.

You also get to differentiate healthy from unhealthy food options. If it’s not on the plan, it’d be best to put it down.

There are a plethora of customizable meal plans available online if making one from scratch is not an option.

Meal planning does not need to be a permanent thing. However, it should be implemented first to ingrain healthy and responsible dietary choices.

Think of it as training wheels to make healthy eating second nature.

Keep a food log

When you’re only starting to eat healthily, you most probably will fail to do so perfectly — and that’s okay! You’re only human and, sometimes, you’ll overeat and eat what you’re not supposed to.

This is why keeping track of the food you eat is important. It will give you an insight into your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to eating.

A food log tells you where you can implement changes.

Write these things down so you can reflect, study, and scrutinize your decisions and what leads to those decisions later on.

You’ll know what foods you overeat, what triggers it, and, then, you’ll know if and how to avoid it.

It will also keep you accountable as you develop healthier eating habits.

Bottom Line

Before something becomes a habit, it must first be practiced as a discipline. Then, these habits will become a way of life.

Not to get too literary, but the lines above perfectly sum up the journey of eating better and healthier.

These 7 tips might be hard to follow at first, but being healthy would not be such a grand goal if it was easy.

Follow these tips and turn these small disciplined actions into (good) habits that you’ll never want to get rid of!

So, what changes will you start doing today?

Links:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22178258/

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41366-018-0299-3

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00421-015-3217-6

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Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I've been writing articles for more than 10 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I'm currently writing for many websites and newspapers. All my ideas come from my very active lifestyle, every day I ask myself hundreds of questions to doctors, specialists, and physicians. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. In all my years as a computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. I believe that any information should be free, we want to know more every day because we learn every day. Most of our medical sources come from Canada.ca and government research. You can contact me on our forum or by email at info@sind.ca.

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