Healthy means something different to everyone. No two people are exactly alike. What works for someone won’t work for another, and even though we’re all on our own journey to living a healthy life, these ten tips are vital for everyone on their unique path.
10 Healthy Living Tips
1. Count nutrients not calories
The idea is not to count anything, and more so to shift your focus to the nutrients of the food you’re consuming. You’ll do this by eating a wide variety of whole foods.
You may be familiar with those 100 calorie bags of processed food. It’s usually hard to just eat one because you still feel hungry.
These aren’t the best choice for a few reasons: they contain empty calories, meaning they have no health supporting nutrients, there’s no protein or healthy fats to sustain you and also, 100 calories isn’t nearly enough to satiate your hunger.
It’s important to focus on a variety of foods that are made with simple ingredients. If you’re eating food that comes in a package (no shame), just make sure you know what the ingredients are. If the list is a mile long, it’s probably not the best option to eat on a regular basis.
2. Focus on quality over quantity
This goes for many things in life – friends, relationships, food, clothes, beauty products, your to-do list, etc. More doesn’t always mean better.
When it comes to food, quality is pretty dang important. My suggestion is to focus on simple. Buy the food in its whole form when possible – fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds. If you have room in your budget to buy organic, that’s great.
If you can’t, that’s okay too. You just have to do the best you can with what you have. Maybe you have some room in your budget for a few organic items.
Paying attention to what’s on the clean 15 and dirty dozen lists, and buying what’s in season will help you buy quality produce within your budget.
For animal protein, quality is very important. If you can afford it, buy organic chicken, grass-fed meats, and pasture-raised eggs. You’ll be able to taste the difference.
If you can’t, make sure you’re eating a source where the animal wasn’t fed hormones or antibiotics because you don’t want to be consuming those things, too.
Look to see what’s on sale at your local shop, and also include plant sources of protein in your foods.
3. Ditch the diet
Diets never work no matter what name they fall under.
Let that sink in for a moment.
There’s always an end date on a diet because it’s not a sustainable long-term solution. Our bodies are working so hard to function normally for us, and when we diet, we’re not getting the number of nutrients our bodies need, which creates a lot of imbalance.
Our relationship with food is very important since it’s a part of our everyday lives. When we diet, it wreaks havoc on our thoughts and views of food. We feel restricted and dictated by food rules instead of listening to and observing what foods make us feel good or.. not so much.
When you start viewing food as nourishment and paying more attention to your body’s cues about how you feel after you eat, you’ll be less inclined to diet and instead make better food choices that work for your body.
4. Eat mindfully
Have you ever eaten a meal while you watched TV or while running an errand, possibly in the car? The answer is likely yes because we all have. Have you noticed how you ate said meal, but you almost didn’t even remember doing so?
You know you ate it because there’s nothing left, but you can’t really even recall the flavor. It’s likely because it was eaten so quickly that your brain didn’t even get the signal that it was eating. Which also means that you probably didn’t even really enjoy the food.
Eating mindfully allows you to enjoy your food more, taste your food more, and sometimes even eat less than you would have if you weren’t distracted, because your body is able to send the signal to your brain when you’re full.
Next time you eat a meal (or even a snack), minimize distractions, focus more on the food you’re eating, and see what feels different.
5. Make one change at a time
Have you ever made a to-do list and you just keep adding things to the list until it’s 15 steps long and then you get disappointed with yourself because you couldn’t finish all 15 things on your list?
Been there, done that. Saying it out loud feels a little ridiculous to think that one person could complete all those things in just one day and do it well.
The same thing goes for making changes within your lifestyle. You must take baby steps. Work on making one change at a time. For long-term change, it’s practically mandatory.
It’s not about not being able to handle all of the changes, but more about incorporating them slowly into your routine, where they have a chance to form into a habit.
Anytime anyone makes a big change, if you try to overhaul everything at once you’re going to get fed up quickly and throw in the towel way too early before you even gave it a real chance because… hello, overwhelming!
6. Don’t compare yourself to someone else
It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the comparison trap, particularly with healthy lifestyles.
“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle, or your middle to someone else’s end. Don’t compare the start of your second quarter of life to someone else’s third quarter.”
This is such an important reminder, especially when it comes to healthy living because you may be doing something similar to someone else who seems to be further along or getting the outcome you want, but really, you have no idea how long they’ve been working at it.
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else except to your previous self. That’s the only way to successfully measure the progress you’ve made.
7. If you don’t like it, don’t eat/do it
Drown out the noise that says you need to be doing x, y, and z to be healthy.
Healthy looks different on everyone, and if you really don’t enjoy eating kale then don’t eat it. It really is that simple.
There are plenty of other nourishing foods. Eating foods that you really dislike is going to make living healthy a struggle for you.
You can always try new ways of cooking a food and if you still aren’t into, move on to the next. There are so many different varieties of foods to try, and it’s really important that you like the food you’re eating.
Health is a marathon not a sprint. There’s never really an end, it’s more of an ever-changing journey.
This also goes for exercise. If you are (literally) dragging your feet trying to work up the courage to do a certain workout that you despise, it’s going to make your journey a long and painful one.
So try out a bunch of things and see what you like. There’s no right or wrong way, it depends on what feels good to you.
8. It’s okay to fall off “track”
One piece of advice (that I should also listen to): Don’t put unrealistic expectations or be so hard on yourself.
It doesn’t mean you’re a failure or a quitter. If you fall off track – so what. Really, it’s okay.
And most importantly, do not beat yourself up over veering off the track. If you fall off, just get back on. There’s no need to eat or exercise ‘perfectly’. What does that even mean anyway?
Eat to feel good, not to fit into someone else’s standard or rules of eating. Healthy living is more of a balance, not an all or nothing mentality. Just strive for progress, never perfection and you’ll find more joy along the way.
9. It’s not only about the food
Food is a very important piece of a healthy lifestyle, and I truly believe that great health starts on our plate. However, food isn’t the end all be all.
This is a lifestyle. There are other things to focus on such as how we’re moving our bodies, the quality of sleep we’re getting, what we’re doing to reduce our stress levels, the products we’re putting on our skin and using in our homes, how much fun we’re having, our mindset, how we’re treating ourselves, etc.
It’s a combination of these things that affect our overall health and remembering that all of these pieces work together.
10. Community is important
You start eating healthier and moving your body more, and because you’re learning to better care for yourself, you start sleeping better, your mental clarity is off the charts, you’re making conscious lifestyle decisions, and overall you’re feeling great.
But, it’s easy to become so focused on this new and improved lifestyle that your social life has fallen to the wayside. You forget to have fun.
It’s really important to keep that balance of spending time with friends or family that isn’t completely focused on this new change you’ve made. It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole with wanting to make all the changes in the name of healthy living.
Change is great, but it can also be challenging and isolating at times, so it’s important to maintain those relationships outside of your relationship with yourself and your new lifestyle because having fun is also a vital part of living a healthy life.