Eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the most important things you can do for your health. We all know we should eat healthily; but sometimes it can feel complicated juggling the ever-changing advice from nutrition articles, news outlets, influencers, and more.
Today, we silence the noise. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. It is possible to establish a healthy diet by nourishing your body with the foods you love.
Healthy eating should be simple and enjoyable. In this article, you’ll learn what healthy eating means, and how to make it work for you.
New Year New You 2022, Week Five: How to Eat a Healthy Diet
Sunny fam, welcome to week 5 of our 2022 New Year New You Program. We’re kicking off 2022 with 6 weeks focused on healthier living. This week is all about, you guessed it: healthy eating.
So, I’ll ask you this: how is your diet? For some of us, we have at least one way we could improve, whether it’s finding more enjoyment through the foods that we eat or incorporating a few more healthy ingredients into our daily nutrition.
Wherever you’re at, I encourage you to get in tune with yourself. Whether you use this week to keep a food journal or start being more mindful of what you’re eating, the only way you can improve your eating is with awareness.
Together let’s sift through the basics of healthy eating and learn some strategies you can use to improve your eating habits in 2022.
Why Is Eating Healthy Important?
First, before we get into how to eat healthily, or the steps you should take to get started, it’s important to touch on why healthy eating matters.
Food fuels your body. The things that you eat deliver the calories and nutrients your body needs to function. When your body is deficient in calories or nutrients your health can suffer. Sunny trainer Alexa uses a metaphor to paint a picture of this for us,
What we eat also impacts our overall health. Healthy diets rich in whole foods are associated with increase in quality and length of life, as well as protects against preventable disease⁽¹⁾ . Sunny Trainer Sam sums this up perfectly,
Finally, our diets don’t just impact our physical health, they also impact our mental health too. Sunny trainer James touched on this when I interviewed him about why healthy eating was so important to him:
What Makes Up a Healthy Diet?
It’s important to note that you don’t need to follow a specific diet or set rules for your diet to be considered ‘healthy’. Healthy eating simply means prioritizing your health by fueling your body with nutritious foods.
The specifics of what foods you include in your diet may differ by your taste, preferences, budget, and geographical location.
As you begin to form a plan for healthier eating, you may consider foods to include or take out of your diet. Keep in mind, all foods can fit into a healthy diet when enjoyed in moderation. Check out the tips below for more guidance on what should be included in your diet.
HEALTHY FOODS TO ADD TO YOUR DIET
There are so many delicious healthy foods in this world. Rather than dwell on what we should eat less of, get excited and explore the new foods you do want to eat!
What are some things you should consider adding to your diet? Alexa talks about the importance of maximizing the macro and micronutrients in your diet to ensure your body is getting everything it needs:
Now that you understand the importance of macro and micronutrients to our bodies, how to add them to your diet? Dana talks about how she likes to balance her macronutrients on her plate:
To keep your micronutrients in check as well - make sure you’re getting a healthy serving of fruits and/or vegetables at each meal. By eating a wide variety of fruits and veggies throughout the week, or week to week you’ll ensure your body is getting the vitamins and minerals it needs.
FOODS TO AVOID OR LIMIT IN YOUR DIET
I’ve found the idea of limiting foods in my diet doesn’t work for me. I’ve been down the road of hyper-controlling the list of things I can and can’t eat, and it takes work to get out of this line of disordered thinking.
Like me, you may benefit from putting no foods off-limits, and honoring cravings. Or you might be someone stuck in severely unhealthy habits who needs more control and could benefit from setting some boundaries. Know what type of person you are and proceed from there.
Whichever side of the spectrum you fall, avoiding foods that don’t make you feel well is always a good idea. I like how Sam recommends tuning into how certain foods make you feel and adjusting from there:
If you are looking to find a little more control in your diet, being mindful of the amount of highly processed foods is a good rule of thumb. Alexa defines what falls into her definition of processed foods:
Start reading the nutrition labels in your cabinet to get an idea of where you could clean things up. Food items like sauces, boxed and frozen meals often are loaded with added ingredients to help preserve their shelf-life. These added ingredients add calories and can be unhealthy for you.
Luckily, for every highly processed food, there is typically a minimally processed, fresh, whole food that can replace it that is just as delicious if not even more delicious. Get excited about the healthy alternatives you get to try!
What resonates with you? Maybe some of the ideas above sounded like a good addition to your current healthy eating plan. Save these ideas as you start building your game plan for healthier eating in 2022.
Week Five: Healthy Eating Challenge
Challenge: Eat 1 serving of vegetables with each meal of the day this week.
Eating healthy isn’t always easy but getting started is the hardest step you’ll take. If you’re ready to take control of your health, it all starts with fueling your body with nutritious foods.
Since I want you to focus on adding nutrition into your diet, this week I encourage you to try adding a vegetable to each meal of the day.
That will likely look different for all of us depending on our preferences. For example, you may add spinach to a smoothie or an omelet for breakfast, carrot sticks with hummus as an addition to your lunch, and a delicious blend of your favorite vegetables in a stir-fry for dinner.
Don't get too caught up in making it perfect, just focus on finding vegetable options you enjoy and working them into your day. Ready? We got this Sunny Fam!
Beyond New Year New You: Tips for Healthier Eating
This challenge is a great place to start. But beyond this week, I hope you feel more open to listening to your body and eating healthy, whole foods that fuel your body and make you feel amazing.
Whether you’re new to healthy eating, or you’ve been working at it for some time, I think we always have something to learn! Below, I’ve listed a few top tips from your favorite Sunny Trainers to help you practice eating healthier.
1. Start Small
Like anything, it’s much easier to get started and stick with it if you choose to do it in manageable, bite-sized pieces. Sunny trainer Sam and James agree:
2. Get Creative
It helps you get excited about what you’re eating when you’re invested in the ingredients you’re using or how you plan to make it. Sam and James share their favorite ideas for getting creative in the kitchen:
3. Don't Be So Hard on Yourself
Your diet is like a fitness journey, just like one skipped workout won’t ruin your overall fitness progress, one piece of cake doesn’t make your diet unhealthy. Alexa highlights this perfectly:
You don’t need to be perfect, so don’t get too caught up when you’re not. Also, recognize that your body has cravings, and it’s okay to enjoy something that’s not ‘healthy’ in moderation.
Even though you’re allowed to indulge from time to time, a little preparation can help you prioritize healthy meals throughout the week. Dana loves meal prepping:
A little preparation goes a long way. If you find yourself making bad choices at work or home simply because you’re busy and unprepared give meal prepping a try!
Sunny team, I hope this week is the starting place of an incredible journey towards a healthier relationship with food. When you fuel your body with nutritious foods, you’re able to feel your best.
Let me know how this week goes in the comments, and don’t forget to share your progress towards your goals by hashtagging #NewYearNewYouNewSunny and tagging us on social media. Let’s go Sunny family!