Recommit to Good Nutrition

Get Back on Track with these 10 Healthy Eating Tips

We’re more than two months into 2024 and if you’ve set a resolution to eat healthier this year, you may find yourself losing steam a few weeks in. Here are the 10 best tips for sticking with healthy eating year-round so you can feel great, inside and out.

1.) Define your why. Why do you want to eat healthier? To live long enough to walk your daughter down the aisle? To have more energy to play with your grandkids? So you can lose weight and have less joint pain? When you have a meaningful “why,” it is easier to stick with your goal.

2.) Banish the diet mentality. If you think of healthy eating as an all-or-nothing proposition, you may be self-sabotaging. Forget, “The diet starts Monday!” If you overeat or have a less-than-healthy dinner that leaves you sluggish, recommit to eating better at your very next meal. Don’t wait for Monday or even the next day. Start now!

3.) Focus on progress, not perfection. Eating healthy doesn’t mean you’ll never enjoy a piece of birthday cake or a few slices of pizza. It’s what you do most often, not every now and then, that counts. When you give yourself grace, accept that there are no “bad” foods (perhaps just foods that don’t make you feel your best) and indulge occasionally, you are more likely to stick with healthy eating long-term.

4.) Find foods you love. Just because you want to eat healthier doesn’t mean you have to subsist on dry salads. There are so many healthy foods out there and many ways to prepare them. For example, you may prefer roasted veggies instead of a salad. Or you may like a marinated, grilled chicken breast instead of plain poached chicken. Keep experimenting until you find nutritious foods that you enjoy. Try a new veggie once a week and scroll through Pinterest or check out a healthy cookbook from the library for recipe ideas.  

5.) Listen to your body. If you do this, you will feel more satisfied and less deprived. Maybe you think you’re “cheating” if you have pizza, throw caution to the wind and eat until you’re stuffed before your “diet starts Monday.” Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full and remind yourself no foods are off-limits (unless you’re allergic, of course). Pay attention to how certain foods make you feel. When you feel good, you’ll be more likely to make the right choices for your body.

6.) Determine your biggest obstacles to healthy eating. Once you do this, you can brainstorm ways to troubleshoot them. For example, if you’re starving after work each day and come home to an empty fridge, you’re probably more likely to order takeout. Perhaps the solution is to write out which dinners you will make each week, commit to weekly grocery shopping and try prepping a few healthy meals in advance.

7.) Meal prep. The less work you have to do when your willpower is the lowest, the more likely you are to stick with your goal. If you cook brown rice as a side dish for dinner, make enough to have with another meal later in the week. Chop veggies on Sunday evening so you can roast them throughout the week. Make a big batch of turkey burgers and freeze them for future meals. And don’t be afraid to ask for help from your spouse, kids or roommate.

8.) Cook once, eat twice. Cook twice as much for dinner and pack leftovers for lunch the next day so you aren’t tempted to hit the vending machine or nearest fast food restaurant. Bonus: This will save you money too!

9.) Snack smart. Think about what an average day looks like for you. Are you driving your kids to school and sports practice? Bring along snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated, such as bananas, almonds or a packet of peanut butter. If you work in an office and have access to a fridge all day, you could pack yogurt, sliced fruit, string cheese, or hummus and veggies.

10.) Stock your pantry and freezer. Save time grocery shopping each week by keeping essentials on hand in your freezer and pantry. For the freezer, stock up on frozen veggies and fruit (avoid varieties that contain cheese, sauces or syrups) and frozen protein (shrimp, salmon, chicken, etc.). Stock your pantry with low-sodium canned beans, brown rice, jarred salsa, your favorite condiments, olive oil, nuts and oats. Then, if you’re in a pinch, you can throw together a healthy, quick dinner like black beans with steamed spinach, salsa, brown rice and a sprinkle of shredded cheese.

When you are prepared for obstacles and know the “why” behind your goal, you can make healthier choices that leave you feeling great. For more healthy tips, see our other articles about nutrition.

Ryane Greene

Ryane Greene, MHS, RD, LDN

Licensed and registered dietitian
UNC Health Pardee

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