How to Eat a Good Diet

About the Author

Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author of One Size Does NOT Fit All Diet Plan, one of Amazon's Top Gluten-Free and Weight Loss Diets. (You may read more about Abby at the bottom of this article.)

9 Helpful Tips for Eating Healthy

If you are just beginning your journey of living healthy, then learning new healthy habits can be mastered with just 9 principles for good eating. By utilizing these principles, you may see changes in your body and how you feel as quickly as the first week. This is especially true if you come from a background of unhealthy pre-packaged, processed, and refined foods. Your body will make changes from the inside out. At first, you may begin feeling healthier, more vivacious, and full of energy. Losing body fat is also a side benefit if that is your goal. Having a good diet is a healthy diet. If you build healthy habits utilizing these 9 helpful tips, you will be well on your way of mastering healthy eating.

Good eating made simple, nutritious, and yum!
Good eating made simple, nutritious, and yum! | Source

Total meals per day?

Time Awake ÷ 3 Hours

Meal Size?

Do not over-stuff yourself. Eat until you are 80% full.

3 meals & 2 snacks?

Sure, as long as all "feeding opportunities" are nutritionally balanced.

What if I'm not hungry?

Then skip your meal and try to make your meals smaller next time.

Missed meal?

No worries. Just get back on track and do better the next day.

Bedtime meal?

Yes, if your mealtime falls within that time frame.

1 - Keep the Sugar Monster Away by Eating at Regular Intervals

"I see food, I eat food." This is the mentality of most people and is what has made an overweight and obese society. Research has shown that eating at regular intervals, every two to four waking hours, is important for not only health but for body composition as well. Some health benefits from using this strategy are:

  • Balanced blood sugar1
  • Less cravings and overeating2
  • Better mental and physical performance3
  • Metabolism boost4
  • Muscle preservation5

2 - Eat Natural Foods: Calories Worth Their Weight in Gold

You've probably heard that a calorie is just a calorie and all that matters in being a healthy weight is taking in the right amount. Though this is true to an extent, there are many other factors to be considered. The types of foods you put into your body also matter. Natural foods provide your body with a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. This helps your body to function optimally. By filling your body with the nutrients it needs, cravings will kept at bay.

Eat natural foods.
Eat natural foods. | Source

Great protein sources:

  • lean beef
  • skinless chicken breast
  • skinless turkey
  • pork tenderloin
  • fish
  • seafood
  • egg whites
  • low-fat cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • tofu
  • tempeh

3 - Eat Protein with Every Meal & Snack

Protein is a very important nutritional building block, especially for optimal health and body composition. Some of the benefits of protein include6:

  • Balanced blood PH levels
  • Proper hormone levels
  • Proper regulation of fluid balance
  • Preservation of muscles (especially when dieting)
  • Excellent energy source (especially when no carbohydrates are available)
  • Proper functioning of the immune system
  • Higher metabolic rate (great for weight loss)7

Eat tons of veggies, some fruit, and limited starches for nutrients and antioxidants.
Eat tons of veggies, some fruit, and limited starches for nutrients and antioxidants. | Source

4 - Love Your Vegetables & Fruits

Vegetables are the absolute best source of carbohydrates as they provide tons of nutrients and antioxidants that you can't get from other food types. By consuming a diet high in vegetables and fruits, you are lowering your risk for chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.8 Vegetables and fruits also provide fullness due to their fiber content. They help eliminate waste and provide stabilization for blood sugar.9 Best of all, they provide fewer calories which is great for those trying to losing weight.10

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One Size Does NOT Fit All Diet Plan
One Size Does NOT Fit All Diet Plan | Source

5 - Limit Starchy Carbs Around Workouts

Starches are carbohydrates like vegetables and fruits. Though some are nutritious, they still don't provide your body with the mega vitamins and nutrients that vegetables and fruits do. In fact, they are usually loaded with calories, even for small amounts. Starchy carbohydrates include whole grains, tubers, and legumes. The best known starches include foods such as pasta, cereal, bread, and snacks like cake, cookies, and potato chips. However, the foods mentioned in the last sentence are refined and highly processed. Natural starches such as oats, quinoa, brown or wild rice, sweet potatoes, and beans are much healthier choices. Eat them around workout times for extra energy and recovery.11

6 - Don't Allow Fat to be Your Enemy

Contrary to what you've been told, dietary fat is not your enemy. The "No Fat" or "Low Fat" diet is a diet of the past. Those diets were based on the man-made, unnatural trans fat used as a preservative in pre-packaged foods. New studies have even shown that saturated fats are healthy as long as they are balanced with other types of dietary fat. Dietary fats are important for many reasons12:

  • an important energy source
  • the formation of your cell membranes, brain, and nervous system
  • the balance of hormones
  • the promotion of a healthy immune system
  • the need for keeping inflammation low

Water is your secret weapon in losing weight.
Water is your secret weapon in losing weight. | Source

7 - Get Drunk with Water & Teas

Exchange your sodas and fruit juices for healthier options such as water and herbal or regular teas. Coffees are even fine if you don't have an issue with stimulants; or, you may opt for decaffeinated. Sodas are just not healthy whether sugar-free, zero calorie, or regular. (See my hub on Food Additives to Avoid for more information.) Juices contain a large amount of calories and sugar. Instead, save your calories for food.

Tea and some coffee beverages have been shown through research to benefit your body in numerous way. This is possibly due to the polyphenols, natural chemicals classified as antioxidants, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties. Polyphenols protect your body from free radicals that cause damage.

Your best option for beverages is water. Your body is made up of nearly 60 percent of your total body weight. That's a lot of water! Water carries nutrients and oxygen to cells, protects body organs, regulates body temperature, lubricates joints, moistens mucous membranes, helps the kidneys and liver by flushing out waste products, and helps prevent constipation.13 Recent studies have also shown that water is your secret weapon in losing weight. So, drink up!

POLL

Do you allow yourself "treats" while on a diet?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Sometimes
See results without voting

8 - Have a Treat: Stick to the 90/10 Rule

This eating principle is easy and will most likely be your favorite. Use the 90/10 rule in determining how many treats you can have during the week. Do you like pizza? What about spaghetti? Are you desiring that chocolate chip cookie your daughter just made? Just because you're opting for healthier living doesn't mean you have to totally give up your favorite not so healthy foods. Just provide yourself with some boundaries. If you eat three meals and two snacks per day, that equates to a total of five meals per day. Multiply that by seven days per week for a total of 35 meals and snacks. Ten percent of 35 is 3.5 meals or snacks that you can treat yourself with. Enjoy!

9 - Gain a New Favorite Hobby in Cooking

Let's face it! We live busy lives, and the days of preparing gourmet meals are bygone. Most people just don't have the time for it. Everyone wants quick and easy! You will need some tasty and easy meals with variety that you can make day in and day out. Planning your meals is the best way to staying on track. Just make sure you are sticking to the 8 previous healthy eating rules on a consistent basis. The simplest meals include grilling meats and veggies. You can even microwave frozen veggies in less than 8 minutes while your meat is cooking. Add some extra virgin olive or coconut oil to your veggies for a delicious and balanced meal.

Happy eating!
Happy eating! | Source

You've probably heard the saying, "Habits take 21 days to build." In fact, habits are not easy to give up or take on. Nine principles for good eating may seem like a huge task, but it doesn't have to be so. You didn't build unhealthy habits overnight. In fact, you probably built them over many year. If it helps, work on one principle at a time and build on it. If you spent 21 days on each principle, that is only 27 weeks or roughly six months. It's not so bad when you look at the overall picture.

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Helping those who desire it!
Helping those who desire it! | Source

About the author

Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author. For the past 10 years, she has coached thousands of women locally and online to lose body fat and lead healthy lifestyles. Her clients have lost thousands of pounds, reclaimed health, and call her “Coach No Gimmick.” She is from Northern Virginia but now resides near Charlotte, North Carolina. Abby has been married for 20 years and has three grown daughters, one of which is autistic. She is a 19 year cancer survivor.

References

[1] Farshchi, H.R., Taylor, M.A. & Macdonald, I.A. (2005, January). Beneficial Metabolic Effects of Regular Meal Frequency on Dietary Thermogenesis, Insulin Sensitivity, and Fasting Lipid Profiles on Healthy Obese Women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 81(1), 16-24. Retrieved from http://www.ajcn.org/content/81/1/16.full.pdf.

[2] Pittman, G. (2012, January). Frequent Meals Prevent Overeating. Reuters Health. Retrieved from http://www.health24.com/news/DietFood_News_Feed/1-3420,72310.asp.

[3] Hawley, J.A. & Burke, L.M. (1997, April). Effect of Meal Frequency and Timing on Physical Performance. British Journal of Nutrition, 77(1), S91-S103. Retrieved from http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FBJN%2FBJN77_S1%2FS0007114597000123a.pdf&code=24e5f2304c14f681d4063bbf512011e1.

[4] Farshchi, H.R., Taylor, M.A. & Macdonald, I.A. (2005, January). Beneficial Metabolic Effects of Regular Meal Frequency on Dietary Thermogenesis, Insulin Sensitivity, and Fasting Lipid Profiles on Healthy Obese Women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 81(1), 16-24. Retrieved from http://www.ajcn.org/content/81/1/16.full.pdf.

[5] Thalacker-Mercer, A.E., Fleet, J.C., Craig, B.E. & et al. (2007, May). Inadequate Protein Intake Affects Skeletal Muscle Transcript Profiles in Older Humans. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85(5), 1344-1352. Retrieved from http://www.ajcn.org/content/85/5/1344.full.pdf.

[6] Berardi, J. & Andrews, R. (2009). The Macronutrients. International Sports Sciences Association. Nutrition: The Complete Guide (166-175). Carpinteria, CA: International Sports Sciences Association.

[7] Institute of Medicine of the National Academics (2005). Energy. National Academy of Sciences. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (114). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

[8] Willett, W.C. (2010, April 6). Fruits, Vegetables, and Cancer Prevention: Turmoil in the Produce Section. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 102(8), 510-511. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djq098. Retrieved from http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/102/8/510.full.pdf.

[9] Ness, A.R. & Powles, J.W. (1997). Fruit and Vegetables, and Cardiovascular Disease: A Review. International Journal of Epidemiology, 26(1), 1-13. doi: 10.1093/ije/26.1.1. Retrieved from http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/1/1.full.pdf.

[10] Berardi, J. & Andrews, R. (2009). The Macronutrients. International Sports Sciences Association. Nutrition: The Complete Guide (149-156). Carpinteria, CA: International Sports Sciences Association.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Slowik, G. (2012, March 22). Fiber: Its Importance In Your Diet. Retrieved from http://ehealthmd.com/content/what-fiber.

[13] Ivy, J.L., Goforth, H.W. & Damon, B.M., et al. (2002, July 12). Early Postexercise Muscle Glycogen Recovery is Enhanced with a Carbohydrate-Protein Supplement. Journal of Applied Physiology, 93(4), 1337-1344. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00394.2002. Retrieved from http://jap.physiology.org/content/93/4/1337.full.pdf.

[14] Ferguson-Stegall, L., McCleave, E.L. & Ding, Z., et al. (2011, May). Postexercise Carbohydrate-Protein Supplementation Improves Exercise Performance and Intracellular Signaling for Protein Synthesis. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 25(5), 1210-1224. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3318212db21.

[15] Berardi, J. & Andrews, R. (2009). The Micronutrients. International Sports Sciences Association. Nutrition: The Complete Guide (157-165). Carpinteria, CA: International Sports Sciences Association.

[16] Berardi, J. & Andrews, R. (2009). Water and Fluid Balance. International Sports Sciences Association. Nutrition: The Complete Guide (207-224). Carpinteria, CA: International Sports Sciences Association.

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Comments 2 comments

Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

I am very happy that I naturally follow the majority of the tips here. So I don't have to "start fresh" with eating healthy! These are some wonderful tips.

I love that you say it is good to treat ourselves once in a while (but not too much). I also like your suggestion about turning cooking into a hobby. I love to cook, fortunately. I also really like that you don't condemn a "bedtime snack". I always need to have something a while before I go to bed, because I can't sleep when I feel hungry. I do stick to healthy snacks.


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Yay! I'm so happy that you like my tips. One of my biggest pet peeves is cutting off food at a particular time at night. That rule obviously can't be for everyone as everyone goes to bed at different times anyway. But, I'm like you as I can't sleep if I'm hungry. It's always good to have some protein and dietary fat before bedtime to tie you over until morning. ;)

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