How to eat a balanced diet
A balanced diet is key to improving your nutrition, performance, and overall wellbeing because good food creates the energy and to sustain you throughout the day. And, the habits that support a balanced diet are just as important as the food itself. Build healthy habits and learn how to eat a diet with these eight tips.
1. Skip highly processed and sugar-sweetened items
Part of knowing the way to eat a diet is knowing which foods you must avoid and why. As you likely know, highly processed foods and sugary beverages carry little to no nutritional value and are often high in calories. These foods are common quick fixes which will leave you dragging later within the day because the sugars wear off. Once you can identify these opportunities for better nutrition choices, you’ve made an important step in the right direction.
2. Eat more protein, add more vegetables
Aim to think outside the box and find nutrient-dense options that maximize your food intake and support overall wellbeing. Protein, as an example, is crucial to feeling satisfied during and between meals, which helps to avoid overeating. Also, vegetables are packed with nutrients that can provide a variety of health benefits. And if you can combine the two, you’ll really get the best of both worlds.
Try incorporating high-protein vegetables, for example:
Lentils – 17.86 grams of protein per cup
Edamame – 16 grams of protein per cup
Peas – 6.99 grams of protein per cup
Spinach (cooked) – 5.35 grams of protein per cup
3. Make time for satisfying meals
When meals are balanced in all aspects you are more likely to feel satisfied sooner and longer, which keeps you from overeating and unnecessary snacking. If you sit right down to a plate of food with a brown piece of this and a beige scoop of that, you’re already unsatisfied and considering what you can eat later. But if the food is vibrant and smells delicious, you’re excited to eat and it’s already starting to satisfy your needs. Include foods in a range of colors, textures, and flavors when you make time to sit down for your meal. Then you’ll truly enjoy your food, have fewer cravings between meals, and eat less overall.
4. Separate feelings and food
Review the “why” behind your eating habits. Why you’re eating is simply as important as what you’re eating. When you use food to satisfy emotional needs, you regularly address unhealthy choices like cookies, ice cream, or pizza. The satisfaction lasts for a few moments while you eat, but the feelings come rushing back once you’re done. As a result, you still feel unhappy and now you’ve eaten poorly too. Therefore, if you keep the “why” of your eating focused on nutrition and sustenance, you’re more likely to choose healthy options that support your balanced diet.
5. Rest and recover
When you’re well-rested, you’re more likely to make rational, positive choices to support your goals. For example, think about how you feel when you’re tired: everything’s a little hazy, the simplest tasks seem like so much work, and you just want the easiest option for everything, including food. Unfortunately, the easy food options you’re likely to reach for will be those highly processed and sugary foods you aim to avoid. So give yourself a fighting chance and make time for rest days and respect the need for sleep. Support yourself in all aspects of building the base for a healthy diet.
6. Eat when you’re hungry
Skipping meals, whether accidental or purposeful, results in poor energy, mood swings, and overeating. This, in turn, can lead to lackluster food choices like energy drinks, candy bars, and other vending machine downfalls. Listen to your body, because once you can tune into your natural hunger cues you’ll know exactly when it’s time to eat. Subsequently, you’ll be less likely to stray from your goals.
7. Create supportive environments
Make time for food prep because not every day is going to go as planned. Food prep makes it easy to settle on balanced meals, especially when you’re tired or short on time. Also, make a point to replace the processed foods and sugar-sweetened drinks in your home with healthy snacks. A home environment crammed with healthy options and freed from temptation makes it that much easier to pick foods that are a part of a diet.