By Rachael Link, MS, RD
Whether you’re looking to lose weight, balance your blood sugar levels or simply improve your overall health, developing a strong set of healthy eating habits is key.
In fact, following a well-balanced diet can ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need to achieve your health goals and help keep you feeling your best.
Although the task of becoming a healthier eater may sound daunting, there are lots of small changes that you can make to improve your diet, even without giving your routine an entire overhaul.
In this article, we’ll look at a few things that you can do to start building healthy eating habits today.
9 Simple Ways to Become a Healthier Eater
There are plenty of simple steps you can take to become a healthier eater. Here are a few ways to get started.
1. Always Eat Breakfast
Start your day off on the right foot with a filling and nutritious breakfast. Not only can establishing a healthy eating pattern help curb cravings and prevent overeating, but it can also keep you feeling full throughout the day while also squeezing more nutrients into your diet.
A healthy, well-rounded breakfast should contain plenty of protein, fiber and healthy fats. Fruits, veggies and whole grains are all excellent choices for a nutritious and balanced breakfast.
Related: Best Immune System–Supporting Drinks
2. Include Protein At Most Meals and Snacks
Another forgotten key to healthy eating? Not eating enough protein foods. Not only can supplements and foods high in protein help build and maintain healthy muscle mass, they also provide support for tendons and ligaments.
Protein is especially important after exercise, when there's a time window to help repair the muscle tissues along with tendons and joints. Protein also functions to increase satiety to a greater extent than carbohydrates or fats. You're much more likely to overeat carbohydrates, especially if they’re refined or sweetened, than protein foods.
Also, protein helps stabilize blood sugar. Eating foods with protein can slow down the absorption of sugar during a meal.
Supplement-wise, Bone Broth Protein powders are ideal for people looking to increase their intake of protein, collagen and beneficial cofactors that support healthy joints, a healthy gut and healthy skin. Boasting 20 grams of protein per serving, it also features 19 amino acids. These powders can be used in smoothies, bone broth drinks, soups and even baked goods.
Meanwhile, mixed plant proteins, which are those made with a blend of superfoods such as Ancient Nutrition’s Plant Protein+, can be a useful way to increase protein intake for those who may have difficulty meeting their needs — such as vegans, vegetarians or older adults. Made with seeds such as hemp, pumpkin and flax, this supplement is formulated to promote a healthy body composition and to support fat metabolism.
3. Follow Health-Centered Social Media Accounts
One great strategy to develop healthy eating habits is to start surrounding yourself with more healthy and positive influences, including social media. Social media can significantly shape our food choices, so following more healthy eating accounts, fitness gurus and wellness bloggers may help inspire you to become a healthier eater.
Social media can also be a great tool for finding new workouts, nutritious meal ideas and interesting ingredients to start experimenting with in the kitchen.
4. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a technique that involves listening to your body and bringing your full attention to the present moment. Practicing mindfulness is a great way to increase self awareness and help develop healthy eating habits.
Start by minimizing distractions during meals and focusing on the way that your food looks, tastes and smells. Be sure to pay close attention to the way that your body feels as well, which can strengthen your ability to recognize hunger and satiety cues to learn when it’s time to stop eating.
5. Try Planning Meals Ahead
Planning out your meals ahead of time can be a great way to help you eat healthy throughout the week. What’s more, it can also add more variety and diversity to your meals by making it easier to add new, unique ingredients into your diet.
Try collecting some fun recipes and planning a few days worth of meals at a time. You can also try meal prepping, which involves setting aside a specific window of time each week to cook and prepare an entire batch of meals all at once.
6. Stay Hydrated
What you put on your plate is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to becoming a healthier eater. In fact, staying well-hydrated is also incredibly important to overall health and can help keep you feeling full between meals to combat cravings.
Although drinking plenty of water is the easiest way to stay hydrated, there are plenty of other beverages that can boost your fluid intake.
Green tea, kombucha, coconut water and vegetable juices are a few other alternatives that you can enjoy to ensure that you’re staying well-hydrated throughout the day.
7. Find a Healthy Eating Partner
Having a solid support system is crucial for developing healthy eating habits. Whether it’s a coworker, friend, family member or online penpal, find someone who can encourage and support you while also keeping you accountable.
Healthy eating partners can trade recipes, cook together or even head to the gym to keep each other motivated and stay on track. Be sure to set goals with your partner and set aside time to communicate and keep each other updated on your progress.
8. Switch Up Your Shopping List
When hunger strikes, it’s much easier to stick to your diet plan if you have a variety of healthy foods on hand. Conversely, if your kitchen cabinet is stocked full of processed foods, salty snacks and sugary sweets, giving into temptation is much more likely.
Try giving your grocery list a makeover and steer clear of processed products like chips, cookies, cakes and convenience meals.
Instead, load up on a wide array of nutrient-dense ingredients and healthy snacks, such as hummus, nut butter, dried fruit or air-popped popcorn.
Related: 21 Best Non-Perishable Foods
9. Don’t Get Discouraged
One of the most important steps in how to change your eating habits is to stop beating yourself up anytime you make a mistake or mess up. Remember that no one is perfect, and everyone has the occasional “cheat meal” or indulgence from time to time.
The important thing is to avoid getting discouraged after a setback and stay focused on your goals. Instead of throwing in the towel and turning a cheat meal into a cheat day, week or month, use it as motivation to get back on track and keep pushing forward.
Rachael Link, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian based in New York City. She completed her undergraduate degree in Dietetics at the University of Central Missouri and later received her Master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. Rachael is passionate about plant-based nutrition and enjoys providing easy-to-understand information to readers looking to support their health.