Do you want to eat healthy, but don’t know how to start? Eat more fruits and vegetables: especially vegetables. If you already eat some, eat more. If you don’t eat any, start eating some. It’s that simple to start.
You might think this is too simple. Doesn’t eating healthy mean changing your diet completely and giving things up?
Trying to dramatically change what you eat and how you eat in a short period of time is one way to guarantee that it will not be sustainable. If changes are made gradually, you have a much greater chance of enjoying long-term success.
Fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense foods, packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre. Eating more of them will help you fuel your body with good things that will help keep it going.
How can the simple action of adding more fruits and vegetables to your plate result in healthier eating habits? Adding fruits and vegetables to your daily eating routine is easy. It doesn’t require giving anything up.
If you start eating more fresh fruits and vegetables (or some if you currently don’t eat any), with time you will begin to enjoy eating them more than you do currently, and you will be able to eat even more of them. As you increase the amount of fruits and veggies, other food items, likely less healthy options, will gradually be displaced, because the increased fibre intake from the vegetables and fruit will leave you feeling more satisfied and full. So you won’t feel deprived.
As you eventually start to increase your consumption of fruits and veggies, and decrease your consumption of less healthy, more processed foods, you might be surprised to find that you don’t enjoy the more processed foods as much. When you eat whole foods, which are bursting with great flavours that are real, those other foods, which are not as flavourful or fresh, become less appealing.
The transition away from a diet heavy in processed foods and towards one made up mostly of whole foods began about three years ago for my family. It started was when my 16-year-old step-daughter moved in with us. She kept asking for more vegetables. Who has ever heard of a teenager that wants to eat vegetables? Yet, that’s what we had. As I have said before, vegetables were an afterthought that often didn’t make it to our dinner plate. It was a conscious decision on my part to add more vegetables to our meals.
The extra vegetables started displacing other foods on our dinner plate. With more vegetables, the portions of rice and pasta and meat became smaller. I discovered that I actually like vegetables. This was a revelation, as I have always been a picky eater.
Processed foods and fast food just weren’t as appealing as they had been in the past. I no longer enjoyed the greasy taste and smell of fast food or the lack of flavour and texture of so much of the processed “just pop it in the oven to heat it up” food that we had been eating. The fresh, crisp, bright flavours of the food I was preparing were better.
It was surprising to me that fast food was no longer appealing. I had been happily eating it several times a week for a couple of decades. Now I eat fast food less than once a month.
The amazing part of this change to me is that I didn’t have the goal to stop eating fast food or processed food. My goal was simply to provide the vegetables my step-daughter wanted. Now our meals are mostly healthy ones. Our eating habits have been transformed because we were exposed to the great flavours of real food. And I don’t feel like I gave anything up.
So now you know the starting point to healthy eating. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Next week I will share some tips on how to do that.