How to Start Eating Healthy For Beginners – 11 Crucial Lessons

There is so much information out there when it comes to losing weight. I am one to put my hand up and say yep I am over the confusing and misleading messages, diet trends or quick fix diets.

You have come to a place that promotes all things eco-friendly, cruelty-free and health pro. This means that I am not going to suggest the consumption of meat, dairy or eggs in this healthy eating information. If you do eat meat, dairy and eggs do not fret! You can still learn from these effective healthy lessons because they apply to all lifestyles.

These lessons are the basics that everyone should know when starting a healthy lifestyle for the sake of your body and your well being.

Let’s get started!

 

1. Cut out Processed Sugar

Sugar is a big no, no when it comes to health and weight loss gains. Sugar provides little to no nutritional benefit and in excess causes easy weight gain.

Foods that are high in processed sugar are soft drinks, packaged juice, commercial ice coffee, lollies, chocolate, cereals, snack bars and yogurt.

Now you may be thinking, what! Cereal, yogurt, juice!?

This comes down to the brand of these food types. It is important you start looking at the nutritional information on the package before deciding what to buy. Look at the sugar content. You may not know what a high level or low level of sugar is, so here is something to help you get the idea.

4 grams = 1 tsp of sugar

Ideally, go for foods that show to be no more than 5 grams of sugar, otherwise at the most, no more than 9 grams.

Also, look at the ingredient list, and a good lesson to know is that the order of ingredients shown on the package, is the order of the highest to the lowest amount of each ingredient. So if sugar, for example, is the first or second ingredient, that means that most of the product is sugar (sometimes they give you a percentage).

Natural sugar, on the other hand, is great. It is found in foods such as fruit, honey, rice malt syrup, and vegetables.

 

2. Eat More Greens

This is something, deep down we all know is the truth when it comes to health. When you see vegetables and fruits and nuts for example in their natural form, you KNOW it is good for you.

So stick with the basics and get into your trolley anything you like that is in its natural form.

We really do need more greens in our systems but a lot of the time we are very busy and do not have time to prepare a green filled meal.

I recommend getting your hands on a greens powder. They are sometimes (depending on the brand) more beneficial to your health because they can contain green superfoods like Spirulina, wheat grass, alfalfa or ginger which are amazing at giving you a load of nutrients in just a small tbsp!

Life Grip Greens Powder is a brand I have been using to get my greens in, and it has no taste! So I put it with my smoothie which is usually a simple one like the following:

Mix these ingredients into a blender!

 

Smoothie, healthy

 

3. Limit Junk Food

Yep, I know you know it! But if you want to lose weight, it is best you avoid buying these obvious food groups that are not good for you.

Once you have established a healthy relationship with food, you can treat yourself to buying one of the above in your weekly shopping trips.

A balanced diet is 80:20

This allows you to be healthy most of the time but then allows you to enjoy your favorite treats 20% of the time and not have them affect your health or your waistline.

 

4. Find Healthy Alternatives That You Will Love

If you are a beginner in the health world, I am sure you are assuming that everything you are now going to eat will not be tasty. But I assure you this is not the case.

In fact, there are so many healthy delicious meal ideas out there, it is just about learning what you like and learning different ways to make once unhealthy meals into healthy meals.

One example would be your typical burger.

From a plant-based perspective, this would mean using bread that is brown (rye, wholegrain or multigrain), peri-peri sauce or mustard for the sauce, hummus or avocado for a spread and for extra flavor, stacking up on veggies such as tomato, beetroot, lettuce or shredded carrot (whatever you prefer) and using a Veggie Pattie instead of a beef pattie.

Vegan Burger Healthy

For me, this is heaven. The difference in how you feel after eating it is also amazing. You will find that you will be full but also feel great! There is no gross or sluggish feeling afterward.

And you can do this for a number of meals!

Yogurt, for example, can be swapped with coconut yogurt. The sugar difference is astonishing. While normal yogurt has approximately 15-25 grams of sugar, coconut yogurt has 3 grams!

 

5. Swap White Bread for Brown Bread

healthy breadBread is fine in moderation.

2 pieces servings of bread a day is sufficient. However, the bread needs to be whole grain, rye or multigrain. White bread and white pastries, for example, are not good for you when trying to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle.

They may not have a high sugar content but interestingly when you consume white bread and pastries, because they are simple carbohydrates, our bodies turn these nutrients into glucose, which is a sugar used for energy. So if it is not burned off quickly, they are stored as fat and in turn, cause weight gain.

 

6. Eat When You Are Hungry

Eating when you are not hungry is something I personally struggle with. Of course, if you are eating healthy meals, it will not affect your body as much if you were eating unhealthy meals. However, anything in excess can cause weight gain.

Try to use smaller bowls when cooking food. I have a habit of finishing everything on my plate even if I am stuffed! So I have been using smaller bowls so I give myself smaller servings, a serving I can finish easily without stuffing myself.

 

7. Keep Healthy Snacks in Your Pantry

It is important to have snacks in your pantry that are healthy. That way if you are craving a late night snack, you won’t go for the chips or the chocolate and end up feeling bad.

Some ideas are as follows:

  • Rice crackers with peanut butter, chopped banana, and cinnamon on top
  • Fruit
  • Coconut yogurt
  • Fruit and Nut mix
  • A piece of toast with avocado. Lemon, salt, and pepper on top for flavor.
  • 1 piece of dark chocolate
  • Cut up carrots and hummus for dip
  • Make some protein balls and keep them for snacks

Protein Balls

8. Don’t Fall For Product Advertising

It is so easy to grab a packaged meal that states it is healthy and the brand is called weight watchers or something of the sort and just put your trust in that without having a good look at what is actually IN the meal.

Marketing can be very misleading. Before you grab that packaged meal that states it has low calories or has less fat or less sugar or whatever they are trying to market their product as; look at the ingredient list and have a look for yourself what is actually in that product.

I recommend primarily looking at the ingredient list. The foods in there should be whole foods and not filled with things like preservatives, additives, sugar, thickeners or artificial flavors. Pretty much, any word you don’t understand is usually something that isn’t good for you and should be avoided.

 

9. Utilise Herbs for Flavour

Flavour is super important for us to enjoy our meals but usually if using a dressing, sauce or dip, they can be deceivingly unhealthy and limit us to reach our health and weight goals. Things like dressing, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, barbeque sauce, and aioli are not very good for us. They are either high in fat healthy dressing(not the good fat) or sugar.

Instead of these sauces, try to use things like herbs such as cinnamon, curry, turmeric, cumin or garlic powders.

You can also use lemon, lime, olive oil, apple cider vinegar (great for salads) or salt and pepper to add flavor your meals.

If you really want to use a packaged dressing for a salad, for example, make sure you look at the ingredient list like we talked about before, and only get one if the ingredients are raw foods. A health food store is a great place to look.

10. Limit Your Alcohol Intake

I know, I know. It’s going to be hard! But alcohol especially mixed with sugary drinks is a big factor when it comes to weight gain and of course, it is horrible for your health.

Calories are not the issue. They are not the same as your normal energy sources like your carbohydrates. The body cannot store the calories derived from alcohol so it must immediately use them for energy, rather than storing them.

Sound good? Well if you don’t eat at all during your night out, then yes, I suppose it would. But usually we do eat, and when we do, because our body is focused on breaking down those alcohol calories, our metabolism effectively stops and stores our meal on as fat.

If you do want to go out with friends for a drink, which I am sure is going to happen. This is life! We still want to have fun and be healthy!

I would recommend having a couple of drinks and use soda water instead of soft-drink to mix your alcohol. This is at least healthier than your normal night out.

11. Move that Booty!

Yes! It is not all about diet. Exercise is very important for living a healthy lifestyle and helping you to lose weight.

If you are new to exercise, you may be used to sitting at a desk all day and I understand how it can be hard to find time to motivate yourself to exercise in between work and home duties.

But if you want to live a healthy lifestyle and see weight loss results, you need to discipline yourself to get up and work! Even if you just go for a simple walk for 30 minutes, you are still improving your health and weight loss goals.

If you want to do more than walking, there are many ways to exercise, you can go to a park and do some simple exercises, you can get a gym membership, you can swim or you can work out in your living room or backyard.

 

A Positive Beginning

Overall, starting a healthy lifestyle can be overwhelming at first, but the best advice I can give you, in summary, is to simplify it. Stick to whole foods, vegetables, fruits, nuts, the foods you KNOW are good for you. You can’t go wrong. Additionally, practice reading labels on packaged food. You will be surprised at how easily you can be misled by packaged advertising.

Additionally, any type of exercise is better than no exercise, so don’t think you’re not doing enough or there is no point unless you go to the gym 7 times a week. Anything that involves moving your body is a great way to start and improve your body and health.

Good luck with it all and if you have any questions, please comment below! I will be more than happy to help you out in any way I can.

 

Yours truly,

 

Danielle Packer

Founder of The Earth Co.

References:

Staughton, J. (2016). Does Drinking Alcohol Make You Gain Weight?. [online] Scienceabc.com. Available at: https://www.scienceabc.com/humans/does-drinking-alcohol-make-you-gain-weight.html [Accessed 24 Jul. 2018].

22 thoughts on “How to Start Eating Healthy For Beginners – 11 Crucial Lessons

  1. Hi Danielle, you know I agree with all your points. They are all important. For me I love sugar (like everyone else) and what helped me curb the sugar and the added sugars was eating fruit that I liked whenever I got a sugar craving. This really helped me. I guess you would keep the fruit in the pantry. lol. I am gad you squeezed in exercise there at number 11. Very important. Just making you feel good, it gets you up and going. I am also big on herbs as well, it is really, in my opinion, the thing that makes food taste good (I include salt and pepper). Not to mention the powerful healing capabilities of herbs. Anyway, you and I are together. I hope people take note of your recommendation. All the best.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Dwyan! That is a fantastic idea for using fruit every time you have a sugar craving. It works for me too! And yes I had to include exercise in there haha I am sure we all need more of it! Thanks again for commenting, I appreciate your views 🙂

  2. What a really great informative website. I must admit I love your type of website that can inform me of what I should be doing to stay healthy and what I shouldn’t.

    1. I am glad you liked my information Janet! Thanks so much for commenting 🙂 We all need some guidance when it comes to food, there is just so much information out there, it can all be a bit confusing.

  3. I love this article! Anyone just getting started can use all the help they can get and you cover it well, especially the coconut yogurt. I’ve never heard of it and I will definitely be getting some! I also love that you encouraged label reading. I have found many tricky things in labels, that tell me whether I or my kids should eat it. My son reacts horribly after eating high fructose corn syrup, and it’s amazing how many things have it in it, ugh.

    1. Yeah, coconut yogurt is so healthy and delicious, I use it all the time in my meals. Ah yes, high fructose syrup is very bad for us but is hidden in so many processed foods. Sticking to whole foods is always a safe bet for you and your children 🙂

  4. Hi Danielle, I really like your simple and achievable approach to eating healthy. Sometimes it can be daunting to see recommendations that you know deep down you can’t achieve, so it’s very refreshing, and in my view important, that your recommendations are achievable. So thanks for the motivation! Sometimes small steps are the way to go in order to make bigger changes. Thanks.

    1. Thank you for commenting! Yes, healthy eating doesn’t have to be so complicated, it really is simple. I think it is just the temptations and misleading marketing that make it difficult.

  5. Amazing post a must read for anyone wanting to eat healthy. I will be myself following your suggestions. Thank you so much.
    David

  6. Fantastic article providing so much information. Just what I was looking for.
    I have been trying to change my diet to eat healthier food but found it quite tricky as you don’t know what to believe. Many foods are claimed to be healthy, especially some of those targeted at children. But when you have a closer look at the bingredients, you realize that they contain a lot of rubbish.
    I think it’s fantastic that you can have a genuinely healthy diet without having to cut out little treats, such as chocolate. And you can even eat burgers. I also really like what you mentioned about greens and that you can use some powder in a smoothy – that will go down very well with my daughter!
    Thank you for all the great advice – will start following it today.

    1. Hey, Sammy! Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts 🙂
      I agree that it can be hard to figure out what is healthy and what is not when it comes to packaged food, that is why it is important to learn to understand nutrition labels.
      Yes, greens powders are great! So easy to get your greens in when you are in a rush and don’t have the time to prepare a vegetable-filled meal.

  7. This information is dope (no pun intended lol)!! Greens are key and very important! I have been a slave of sugar for a long time, and in the last 5 years or so I have done much better in limiting how much sugar I intake, and the food that even turn into sugar like rice and other starchy foods. I like the 80%- 20% rule, limiting is very important, and it proves that yes, you can enjoy some or a few “not always the best” snacks as far as health, but with proper exercise and making sure you keep that 80% consistent, that drives out the processed sugars and other unwanted fats. That is very encouraging for people that feel they don’t want to COMPLETELY give up their “unhealthy” snacks! But the key to this site is health and I am so glad this information has been made for the public to “consume”…..(yes pun intended there lol)

    Thanks a lot for the confirming information!!!

    1. Thanks, Orpheus for your comment.
      You are definitely not alone when it comes to sugar cravings, we are all victim to sugar some time in our life. I am glad you like the 80:20 rule, it is a great way to live without completely restricting ‘cheat’ meals, it is nice to splurge once in a while.

  8. Great article! I have lately changed my lifestyle to lose weight as I had taken 10 extra kilos within a very short space of time. So, I pretty much put into effect the suggestions that you state above, along with exercise and was able to lose 8 kilos in 3 months. That felt really good! Many time we don´t realize that our extra kilos are not there because of our sitting job, for example, but have to do with how we look at ourselves in respect to life. Bad habits ate the reason we’re fat, most of the time. We eat too much and move very little. My 8 hour job at the office was always my excuse. Then, one day it dawned on me and I started to eat a lot better while I tried to exercise every day. The results were almost immediate and that kept me on track. I now feel great and don’t turn my head the other way when I look in the mirror. Thanks for posting this. I hope everybody reads it and follows your suggestions!

    1. Thank you so much, Ioannis for sharing your weight loss story! Truly inspiring and that is exactly right, we can’t keep making excuses for our bad habits, it is just a matter of disciplining yourself to do the research and find time to move that body 🙂

  9. As a type 2 diabetic, I really appreciate your article because it speaks to the many areas that I must be careful of when I choose foods. Just the choice of having a slice of pizza versus an apple can be the difference between a high or low blood sugar test. Like many people, I have a sugar addiction which is a hard one to break. You offer some great ideas here and I love the idea of the protein balls. They look like they would be a good alternative to a “sweet treat” for me! My granddaughter will appreciate the changes, too, although I am pretty sure she will object to her candy being replaced with more wholesome foods!

    1. Thanks, Karin for commenting! Glad to hear my article was of use to you, and yet so many of us have a sugar addiction, we just need to find healthy and delicious alternatives. Haha yes, kids can be hard! But eventually if you make the healthy alternatives yummy, they will be pleasantly surprised 🙂

  10. This is Awesome,
    I have read your post and must say it has really helped me and also confirmed some of the food that I eat are indeed healthy, a good example is a brown bread. I used to love white bread because of the test until one of my family members was diagnosed with diabetes and the doc suggested that she should stop eating white bread.to help and be in solidarity with her we all started eating whole grain bread which until now we have never thought of going back to white bread. thank you so much

    1. Thanks, Mercy for commenting and telling your story. White bread is a great example of where most people can make an easy switch. I personally would never CHOOSE white bread anymore because I love the seeds and flavor of the wholemeal bread now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *