Figuring out what to eat is one of the most difficult parts of living a healthy, well-balanced life. Start here....
We all know that food is an essential part of living, without food we don't have fuel, without fuel our body cannot function properly. This isn't a difficult concept. Although, what is a difficult concept - is trying to eat "healthy". Eating healthy can feel like an uphill battle, what is considered healthy today is different than what is considered healthy tomorrow.
Speaking of - the word "healthy" is kind of a relative term. What does healthy mean to you? Does it mean eating only organic? Or, does it mean not eating out? We can go on forever about different definitions of what someone may consider healthy. I want to challenge you to define what healthy means to you. That is the starting place for living a healthy lifestyle.
To me - healthy means eating and consuming consciously. I don't study every nutrition label before I consume something, however most of the time I will glace at it. If a number really jumps out - then maybe take another look and then begin to study the nutrition label. For example - if you pick up a package that says it has 40 grams of sugar per serving (an extreme example...) then put it down, and look into alternative options for that item, maybe a different brand. I wish I could provide you a concrete meal plan to follow. Or, at least tell you exactly how much of the carbs, fats, proteins, etc. you need in your diet. This isn't possible, because everyone has different needs for their body. Some will require more proteins, and others will require more fats. It depends on how your body processes foods, and it depends on what your goals are.
Figuring out what to eat is probably the most difficult part of living a well-balanced life. I definitely don't recommend throwing away your entire pantry and completely cleaning out your refrigerator and only stocking it with organic products. This isn't realistic, and this is the all or nothing mentality that I'm not a fan of. Remember what we put into our body will affect how we look and feel both inside and out. Here are a few smaller steps that you can take to begin to revamp your eating habits.
1) Think before you eat out. I'm not going to say to not eat out, because again this might be unrealistic. I eat out pretty infrequently, but occasionally I will. When I do - I take time to think about where I'm going to go. Fast food is never an option. If it has a drive-thru window, it's a definite no. I also try my hardest not to eat at chain restaurants (if you're going to eat out - support local places!), I believe the last time I ate at a chain restaurant was in July, on a road trip in the middle of nowhere! I try not to eat at chains because most of the time - these places will use less fresh products and more preservatives.
2) Organic or not? If it's possible to eat organic and natural products - that's great and I will always encourage you to do so. However, I am the first one to understand that is not always possible. I would love to only eat organic fruits and vegetables. However, for me - this isn't always an option. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables that are not organic is better than not eating them at all! Understand what you can and can't do at the moment.
3) Meal prep! Meal prep! Meal prep! I cannot stress this enough. Most weeks, I don't really want to take a few hours on Sunday to cook - but when the work-week starts, I'm always glad I did. It's so much easier to come home from a busy day and take something out of the refrigerator or freezer that is already prepped and cooked. It's actually easier than stopping somewhere on the way home to pick something up. If you have your meals planned out for the week you won't have to ask yourself "what should I make for dinner?" because your question was answered when you planned ahead.
4) Stop drinking soda. Another one that I can't stress enough. I really can't list all the reasons why you shouldn't be drinking soda because there are literally too many. I understand that we all need a vice - but please, don't let soda be your vice. If you do nothing else on this list - do this one! I used to be right there with you. I used to drink a few sodas a week, mainly when I ate out or needed a caffeine buzz. I stopped drinking it about three or more years ago, so it really is possible.
5) Eat more real food and less "fake" food. It's simple really. The more something has been processed the unhealthier it is. The less it's been processed the healthier it is. For example - corn is healthy, corn chips are not. This is extreme, I know. But you get the point...
If you're not sure where to start - keep a food journal for a week. Write down everything you consume from the time you get up in the morning until you go to sleep in the evening. Look for one thing to take out, or one habit to start. If you see that you've been eating takeout 3 nights a week; then next week limit yourself to one night. And slowly begin to make these changes every week. Your diet will change, and you will feel better and healthier (even if you don't feel "bad" now).
Remember - don't let a bad moment or day, turn into a bad week. Take your health into your own hands. If you need someone to hold you accountable - I'm the girl.