Woman mixing ingredients and vegetables in pan while preparing lunch indoors

What you put into your body matters. It fuels you physically and mentally and has a huge impact on your behavior, mood and long-term health outcomes. Taking care of yourself, both body and mind, is the best investment you can make.

There are loads of excuses to not eat healthy. There’s a common perception that a balanced diet is more expensive, inconvenient, doesn’t taste good and is too difficult for the average cook. With the right knowledge and some practice, anyone can learn how to make easy, tasty meals to start eating healthy on a budget. Your body will thank you for it.

Why eating healthy is important

The list of pros to eating healthy is endless. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, healthy eating habits can lower the risk of obesity, asthma, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and more. Not learning how to eat healthy has consequences, too. A study published in 2016 showed that people with poor diets were more likely to experience depression. 

On top of that, eating healthy will help you to look better because you’ll be able to maintain a healthy weight, have clearer skin and stronger teeth. You’ll feel like a million bucks when you have healthy eating habits, too. You can expect a mood boost, smooth digestion and better sleep.

The list of benefits to eating healthy is extensive and significant. Making this lifestyle change will impact you every day, all day long because what you put into your body truly becomes who you are.

Barriers to eating healthy

1. Cost

If you’re looking for healthy things to eat and feeling overwhelmed with the process, there are so many free tools and guides you can use to help you get the most bang for your buck. With a quick internet search you can find grocery lists and recipes that will make eating healthy on a budget easy, and you’ll save loads of money when you’re eating out less. Here are some helpful resources to encourage healthy eating without breaking the bank.

2. Convenience

Healthy eating can seem like a chore if it’s new to you, and fast food is marketed to take advantage of those who feel too busy for healthy eating. Although there is some prep time required for many recipes, you can also find ones that take less time than hopping in your car to get hit up a drive-thru.

There are ways to save time and conveniently eat a healthy diet. Meal planning is a great way to prepare food in advance and make quick meals without sacrificing nutrition. Knock out some of the work (like cutting veggies) on the weekend to make healthy foods to eat throughout the week. Overall, you can save yourself time when you have a routine and stick to it.

3. Taste

One taste of a homemade nutritious recipe and this myth will be quickly busted. It may take some time to learn how to make healthy meals, but once you get the hang of the basics you won’t regret it. Often home cooked meals taste better because you can eat them fresh out of the oven and personalize them to your particular taste by adding ingredients and spices.

Although greasy foods may taste good, they don’t actually feel good for long. They make your stomach feel heavy and your body sluggish. Fresh fruits and vegetables are bursting with fresh flavor and have the added perk of leaving you feeling energized. Soon your body may prefer the taste of healthy foods because your mind associates them with feeling better.

How to start eating healthy

If you’re looking for healthy foods to eat and how to do it, start by learning these food basics.

Food groups: According to the National Institute on Aging, the five major food groups are fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, dairy and oils. If you’re struggling with how to get the nutrients if you have dietary restrictions or allergies, check out this link and go to page 28 for healthy foods to eat in each food group.

Calories: Getting enough but not too many calories for your body is important to maintain a healthy weight and get the nutrients you need. Calories are essentially stored energy, so you don’t want to skimp on fuel for your body or consume “empty” (or useless) calories that you find in most junk foods.

Balance: Sure, kale is a trendy super-food, and for good reason, but you’d be a fool to eat only kale. Your diet needs variety. Not just so that your meals are tastier, but because your body needs a lot of different nutrients that you can’t get from cycling through just a few foods.

Portions: keeping in mind not just what you eat, but how much you eat is a critical healthy eating habit. Some foods are best in moderation, so keep an eye out for appropriate portions. If you don’t know what a portion size looks like, measure out the serving size on the nutrition facts label and soon you’ll be able to eyeball it.

Exercise: healthy eating is best paired with healthy movement. Getting frequent exercise is essential for a healthy lifestyle and the healthy food you’re eating will give you the energy you need to do it. The Mayo Clinic recommends 30 minutes of activity a day, and more if you’re hoping to lose weight.

Eat for your body: each person will have unique calorie and nutritional needs. Consult a doctor or a trained nutritionist to get the best food for your body, especially if you have any health conditions. For example, you may want to limit salt intake if you have high blood pressure or regulate sugar intake if you have diabetes.

If healthy eating is new territory for you, you have much to look forward to. There are infinite resources online to help you start a wholesome diet. Your body and wallet will thank you for it. If the long list of positive health outcomes associated with a healthy diet didn’t convince you, the taste will. Bon appétit!

Get help today

If you’re looking to invest in both your mental and physical wellness and make important lifestyle changes, check out Silvermist Recovery. At Silvermist, your holistic care is the top priority. Professionals can help you with nutrition and meal planning while you work to recover from substance use. Get help today, call Silvermist Recovery, 724-268-4858.