Plan for Healthy Diet

How to Start a Healthy Eating Plan: A Step by Step Guide

So you want to get healthy. Congratulations! You’re worth it. When you start eating healthy you’ll feel better physically and will feel better emotionally too. But many people don’t know how to start a healthy eating plan. People often wonder what a healthy eating plan even is. We’re here to help!

What is a Healthy Eating Plan?

Before you can come up with your own healthy eating plan, or follow the simple healthy eating plan of someone else, you must first understand: what is a healthy eating plan? People with unique dietary restrictions, like diabetics, will have their own unique plans.

That said, there are some general guidelines most people can follow. According to the National Institute of Health, a healthy eating plan follows these general rules:

Veggies are Part of Any Healthy Eating Plan

  • Focuses on adding veggies, fruits, whole grains, and dairy products that are fat-free or low in fat.
  • Includes eggs, nuts, lean meats, poultry, fish, and beans.
  • Keeps saturated and trans fats to a minimum.
  • Limits added sugars.
  • Focuses on controlling portion sizes.

It’s also very important to eat breakfast. Too often, people simply drink coffee all morning and wait for their lunchtime routine to begin before eating. The reality is that when you let yourself get hungry, you’re putting yourself at risk for overeating. Always eat breakfast and a mid-morning meal.

But What About Calories?

Of course, most people know that to lose weight you need to lower the calories you eat and raise the calories you burn. If you want to lose a healthy amount of weight – between 1 and 1 ½ pounds – then your daily calorie intake needs to be reduced by about 500 – 750 calories.

Calories Count in Apples

The amount of calories you need will vary greatly based on your current weight and your exercise level. Avoid diet plans with fewer than 800 calories per day. Undereating can actually prevent you from losing weight and it is certainly not healthy. Stick to the goals based on your weight and you’ll feel better.

How to Start a Healthy Eating Plan

Now that you know what a healthy eating plan is, let’s talk about how to start a healthy eating plan. Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Choose a healthy eating plan. We’ve got some ideas in the follow paragraphs. Find one that works best for your lifestyle and needs.
  2. Understand your goals. Are you looking to lose weight? Or do you simply want to eat better? Having clear goals will help you stay on track.
  3. Plan, plan, plan. Make a note of when you’re most likely to overeat. Is it when you forget to bring your lunch to work? Or when you come home after a long day at work and don’t feel like cooking? Know your weaknesses and plan around them.
  4. Prep your meals. The best way to avoid “cheating” is to prep your meals. Take one day a week and cook up plenty of lean protein, create some salad mixes, get smoothie mixes ready in the freezer, or make a healthy soup. Having these pre-made foods will help you stay on track.Meal Prepared in Advance
  5. Keep track of everything you eat. This may seem tedious but it has big advantages. According to a study by ScienceDaily, people who track their food lose twice as much weight as those who don’t.
  6. Get other people involved. Do you have a friend who’d like to eat healthier? Or other people in your home? What about at work? When you have a buddy doing the same thing as you, you’ll be accountable to each other and much more likely to succeed in the long run.

Starting a Healthy Eating Meal Plan: Set Yourself Up for Success

The best way to think about an easy healthy eating plan is not as one huge change but as a series of small, manageable changes. For example, simply adding a salad to your daily diet. As these changes become habits you can add more changes. Some great tips to keep in mind include:

  • Make most of your own meals. This allows you to monitor exactly what you’re eating and gives you the opportunity to take charge of your eating habits.
  • Swap one thing for another. Don’t think of it as though you’re cutting things out of your diet – think of it as replacing things. For example, you’re not cutting fried chicken out of your diet, you’re simply replacing it with delicious garlic grilled fish.
  • Make it a simple healthy eating plan. You don’t have to count calories. Instead, focus on diversifying the colors of foods you’re eating, the variety, and the freshness. Avoid packaged foods and look for fresh options when possible.
  • Get familiar with food labels. They can hide all sorts of sugars and fats.

Reading Food Label

  • Be mindful of how you feel after eating well. The simple truth is that you feel better after eating a healthy meal. Take note of that and train your brain to crave these healthy foods and the resulting good feelings.
  • Drink a lot of water. It helps to flush your body of toxins, helps you feel full, and gives you energy. Many people mistake thirst for hunger and actually turn to chips or other snacks when in fact they’re just thirsty.

A Daily Healthy Eating Plan

Now that you have some ideas on what a healthy eating plan is, let’s focus on setting up a daily healthy eating plan. Keep these three general rules in mind:

  1. You should eat every three to four hours. This will keep your metabolism working and help prevent blood sugar crashes that can lead to binges.
  2. It’s best to combine protein and fiber in each meal. When you eat these foods together, they take longer to digest than carbs do – which means you feel full longer.
  3. Get up often and drink water often.

Here we’ll outline an example of a daily healthy eating plan. It’s based on a 2000 calorie diet, which is what the average person needs to maintain their weight. If you’re looking for healthy eating plans for weight loss, lower the calorie count by 500 – 750 calories.

If you weigh less or more than average then you’ll also need to adjust the calories. This particular example of a daily healthy eating plan is meant simply as a guide. Create your own based on your specific goals, current weight, activity level, and food preferences.

Breakfast

  • A cup of skim or 1% milk
  • One medium grapefruit
  • 1 ½ cups of whole grain cereal

Morning snack

  • ¼ cup of nuts
  • String cheese

Lunch

  • Salad with lean protein like salmon or chicken

Proteins with Salad for Healthy Lunch

  • 1 cup of grapes
  • One slice of whole wheat bread or a whole wheat roll

Afternoon snack

  • Two slices of cheese
  • One cup of broccoli

Dinner

  • 4 ounces of grilled salmon
  • 1 cup of cooked asparagus
  • ½ cup of brown rice

Evening snack

  • Apple slices
  • Honey

Apple Slices Dinner

Remember that you can substitute anything on this example daily healthy eating plan with a similar product. For example, if you don’t like fish then simply substitute turkey meatballs. If you don’t like apple slices and honey, eat ½ cup of berries and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

Sleep is More Important Than You Might Realize

It may seem strange to include sleeping patterns when discussing healthy eating but the truth is that if you get less than the ideal 7 or 8 hours of sleep per night you’re risking a whole host of health issues that include:

Healthy Diet is not Only About Food

Of course, if you don’t get enough sleep you’re also likely to feel tired and lack energy – which can lead to overeating on its own. Drink a glass of water before bed and create a calming routine for yourself. This may be taking a warm bath or reading in bed for half an hour.

The Key is Progress – Not Perfection

Some days will be better than others. Some days you’ll wake up, drink a glass of water, take a short walk, eat a healthy breakfast, and have a perfect day of healthy eating. Others you may eat things that aren’t on your plan or throw your plan out altogether.

And that’s okay! In an ideal world, we’d make a change and stick to it for life without any setbacks. The key isn’t to avoid setbacks altogether but to respond to them appropriately. It’s so easy to have a slice of cake at lunch and then get off track for the rest of the day – or the rest of the month!

If you do have that slice of cake, simply accept that you veered from the track you were on and then get right back on it. Don’t try to skip dinner to “make up for it.” This is just going to make you hungry – which makes you more likely to overeat. Get back on your plan and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

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