Eating Healthy – Let’s Get Started

Alright so you have decided to start eating healthy?  That’s wonderful. Except how do you know what really is healthy and what isn’t besides raw fruits, vegetables and salads?  Are you dreading starting eating healthy thinking you are giving up all the flavor in the world? When someone says you need healthy carbohydrates or healthy fats do you even know what that means?  Eating healthy can be daunting if you never have before and you have no idea where to start. Just grabbing a healthy cookbook at the store to help with some new healthy dishes can be overwhelming when you see you have none of the ingredients in your pantry or refrigerator.  Take a deep breath and relax, with a little help you may realize some dishes you are already cooking are healthy.  

Let’s talk about healthy foods.  When you are going to start eating healthy you know the basics that you need, protein, carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.  For someone who doesn’t know what foods fall into these categories let’s break it down. 

Healthy proteins can include lean beef meaning steak or pork.  Chicken breasts, lamb, or turkey. Other options are eggs, fish such as salmon, tuna and shrimp.  And don’t forget about beans, black beans and chickpeas are wonderful sources of healthy proteins.  Fish have a ton of omega three fatty acids which are extremely healthy for you preventing heart disease.

Healthy Carbohydrates.  Now I know some of you are thinking, I thought carbohydrates are bad and we should eliminate them completely.  Carbohydrates give your body fuel, they energize you, cutting them out completely can cause you to feel exhausted.  So fuel your body with healthy carbohydrates, which include brown or white rice. Your rice does not have to be whole grain or super fancy and expensive, plain brown or white is just as healthy.  Legumes and lentils are also a good source of healthy carbs. Quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams are also all good choices. Pasta and whole grain bread can be very good sources of healthy carbohydrates as well.  Pasta you can always go for a whole grain source, or even a chickpea pasta if you want to take away the gluten aspect of pasta. The thing with carbohydrates is it is easy to overeat these. So make sure you do still stick with some portion control.  Too much of a good thing isn’t always good.  

Healthy fats sound funny.  When you think of fats do you go straight to thinking of a giant fast food burger and fries? How can that be healthy?  Well it isn’t. But there are some foods that have healthy fats that help fuel your body, keep your body temperature regulated, help cell growth and your organs to function properly, not only that but also help your body absorb nutrients.  These foods include avocados, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, olive oil, almond butter, and peanut butter. Like the carbohydrates these can be consumed in excess, so keep a mindful portion amount.  

Fruits and vegetables are kind of self explanatory.  Raw fruits and veggies are wonderful to keep on hand and readily prepared for a quick snack.  If your healthy food is readily available for you, you will be more inclined to eat it. Keeping a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter so when you get a little craving you can grab a fresh apple, or a delicious banana is a much better option then going to your pantry and finding something packaged and processed.  Remember too that fruits have lots of natural sugars in them, so if you are hankering for something sweet grab an apple or a berry of your choice and snack away. Try and steer clear of the fruit juices, they will have lots of added sugars usually. If you want a flavored water you can infuse fruits into it.  

We touched on some nuts previously with the healthy fat section, but nuts are a great superfood.  They are packed with protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. So keep some nuts on hand as well for when you need a salty snack grab some almonds or cashews.  

Don’t be fooled at the grocery store.  Just because an item says on it that it’s healthy, it may not be. For instance, not all protein bars though they may be filled with a whole bunch of protein have a whole bunch of other good ingredients in them either.  If you look at the ingredient list on something packaged and you don’t know what an ingredient is there may be room for some questioning. The main tip for what to buy when you go to the grocery store is to stick to the outside perimeter aisles.  Usually that’s where the fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish are. This will also help you stay away from items that may tempt you into putting them into your cart. There may be some items such as rice that is down an aisle and that’s understandable just a rule of thumb stick to the outside.  

Counting calories is not always healthy.  Watching portion sizes and what you are eating can have a bigger impact than counting calories.  Counting calories is not always accurate. To watch portion sizes try eating on a tinier plate, this tricks your mind into thinking you are eating more when it sees a tiny plate filled with your foods.  Make sure you listen to your body, figure out what your body is truly in need of before you just start mindlessly eating or snacking. Another good thing to think about when you feel hungry is are you truly hungry or are you thirsty?  Your body may feel like it is hungry when really it is needing some liquid. Don’t be afraid to add spices. Spicing up your food won’t make it unhealthy, so make sure you visit the spice aisle when you are at the grocery store. Stock up on sea salt and pepper.  And fresh herbs are a great way to elevate any dish. Once you get the foundations of healthy foods, making healthy meals will come easily. Like a burrito bowl with lean meat, avocado, and some beans.  

Watching portion sizes and what you are eating can have a bigger impact than counting calories. 


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