Whether you are trying to reduce your sugar intake or refined carb intake, or you are trying to build better nutrition habits such as starting the day off with a healthy breakfast, packing a healthy lunch for work, or cooking yourself and your family a whole foods dinner, here are 10 key ingredients for healthier eating.  

  1. Make slow changes.  Don't try to make an entire overhaul of your diet.  Make a few small goals and work away at them.  Celebrate the small victories and don't fret if you veer off a bit. Start each day fresh and new.  Just because you weren't successful today doesn't mean that you can't be successful tomorrow.  Don't use set back as excuses, use them as lessons and keep moving forward. 
  2. Plan, Prep and Plan more. I cannot stress enough how important it is to plan your meals for the day.  Planning brings more awareness to what you are eating, it reduces mindless eating and helps you put more thought into what you eat.  Start by writing down what you will eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the whole week.  Then make a list and go grocery shopping.  If you have a list, you are less likely to buy a bunch of unhealthy food or foods that don’t fit into the meals you planned.  Eventually, you will get into a groove and you won’t need to plan as much.  You’ll probably settle into a routine of eating similar foods every week, and so a lot of the planning can just be done in your head. Planning and making lunch/dinner to bring to work with you the day before is really helpful as it takes any thought out of it the day of.  I make dinner for my husband and I every night.  We have roasted vegetables and meat, or Cobb/Greek salads.  It's pretty simple but just writing it down at the beginning of the week takes all thought out of it and making a healthy dinner with whole foods becomes a much easier task at the end of a long day. Planning also ensures that you always have a snack or meal on hand because it is when we get really hungry that we make irrational food choices and end up bingeing.   
  3. Always keep healthy treats on hand for when you get hungry.  Letting ourselves get too hungry, often ends up in irrational food choices and bingeing.  Here are some ideas for satisfying snacks, whether you have a sweet tooth or gravitate towards savory foods. 
  4. Learn what foods you are intolerant/allergic to either by an allergy test, an elimination diet or by listening carefully to your body.  Whichever way you choose, it is important to find out which foods your body has difficulty digesting and to eliminate them for an extending period of time to experience and become familiar with that feeling. 
  5. Learn how to cook/cook more often for yourself.  Try looking up recipes (pinterest can be a very inspiring place to start!), youtube how-to cooking guides, instagram healthy food accounts, or watch The Food Network.  In some way, get inspired to try cooking healthy meals for yourself.  If you already have a grasp on cooking, try to get re-inspired.  Having the ability to cook for oneself and others is also a very attractive skill to possess.  
  6. If you are trying to reduce/cut out a particular food, try doing it Monday-Thursday, and try not to buy much of it on the weekend.  Enjoy yourself at social events, and buy yourself a treat, however, be mindful of how much you bring into the house.  If you do end up bingeing or bringing a lot of it into your house, don't be afraid to throw it all away on Monday and start fresh.  Take it from me, it's empowering to throw away a half eaten box of cookies.  The money has already been spent so it isn't a waste of money to throw it away.  You will start your week off with control. 
  7. Don't rely on your will power, keep it out of the house as much as possible.  This is hard when you have kids or a partner who are into different foods than you.  The best you can do is to just try to keep it out of sight, stashed in a cupboard, the freezer or a room you don't go in.  
  8. Be aware of how certain foods make you feel and remember that feeling for when you are craving them.  Try paying attention to how you feel after everything you eat.  Make a mental note or write down what foods tend you make you feel crappy.  They may be super delicious and worth the discomfort, but try to think about how you will feel after you eat something before you eat it.  This has been really critical for me as I try to eat less refined sugar and carbs. I feel tired, lethargic, and my mood dips after consuming more than a taste or 1 serving of these foods.  So thinking about that helps me say no in the first place.  
  9. Fully Commit.  If you don't really want to do it, then you aren't ready. You'll likely get discouraged quickly and end up feeling worse about yourself.  Be honest. Is this something you want for yourself right now? Yes? Then do it! I have full confidence in you.
  10. Be Patient with yourself. Remember eating a healthier diet is a process and that it will likely take time to get to where you want to be. I've been trying to eat better for almost 10 years now and I have come a really long way.  It wasn't without set backs and falling off the wagon several times though. Don’t feel as though you need to incorporate all these tips into your diet all at once, but pick one and make slow changes until you become comfortable with it and then move onto another point.  Keep at it though.  Anything of value takes hard work.  If you change everything starting next Monday, then it isn’t likely your new diet will last long, you’ll fail by Wednesday and constantly be “starting next Monday”.  Remember it is a process and a journey that will last the rest of your life.  You can choose to eat poorly the whole time, feel like crap and likely develop a diet related disease that could/will eventually kill you.  Or, you can spend some time now developing healthy habits to sustain you throughout life, providing you with energy and vitality.  You choose.