How to Get Started on Eating Healthy
By: Alexis Supan RD • Posted on November 22, 2022
Want to improve the way you eat this year? If your answer is yes that’s great! That means you have the motivation to improve your health. Now the question to ask yourself is:
How am I going to take this motivation and turn it into action?
To turn motivation into action you need to create a plan. Without a plan your motivation is simply a desire for something. With a plan, your motivation and goals can become your reality.
Make a Healthy Meal Plan
For someone who wants to eat healthier, making a healthy meal plan is an excellent start. A meal plan is where you map out what you will eat for each of your meals a few days ahead of time. Planning ahead gives you the opportunity to pick meals that are nutritious and work towards your goal of improved health.
One study showed that adults who meal plan and know what they’re eating for the following few days are more likely to have greater food variety, better diet quality, and a healthy body weight. (1)
The key to a good meal plan is to make it realistic and sustainable. This year try to avoid the crash diets and cleanses that promise fast weight loss. Instead try to follow the Mediterranean diet, which reduces our risk for several chronic diseases. (9)
Quick guide to meal planning
1. Write out your plan
- Sit down once a week and start to jot down what meals you will eat for the upcoming week. Be sure to choose healthy meals with plenty of vegetables. See a dietitian if you need help learning what a healthy meal looks like.
- Be sure to consider your time, budget, location, and tastes.
- Be mindful of using leftovers, keeping meals simple, and using convenience foods or takeout when needed.
2. Meal Prep
- Have one or two days of the week where you prep for the following days.
- This step is important, as studies show people who spend time on meal prep have a higher quality diet and spend less money on food. (10)
3. Remind yourself every day of your goals
- Now that you have your plan, be sure to remind yourself why you are going to eat healthy and adhere to your plan that day.
- Think about your motivations. Write them down or say them aloud each morning.
More Tips to Help Improve your Nutrition
In addition to meal planning, there are other good changes you can make to help improve your nutrition and overall health:
- Practice time restricted eating by only eating within an 8-12 hour period each day. This has the potential to improve your heart, brain, liver, and gut health. (2,7)
- Keep unhealthy foods out of the house. People who keep unhealthy foods in the house are more likely to have a higher fat diet than those who do not. (3)
Try to keep your home environment one that encourages healthy eating. If you keep snacks around for kids or grandkids, rethink if that is something you need or want to do. Consider improving the quality of their snacks to help improve their health and start good eating habits. (4)
- Limit or remove other negative influences. The commercials we see and social media accounts we view can influence the way we eat. (5, 6)
When we see commercials for food we eat more. (8) Consider getting off social media or cutting back to only 10 minutes a day. Try to avoid all commercials by watching commercial-free tv and movies or avoiding the tv all together.
There are many ways you can start eating healthier. No matter how you decide to make changes, just be sure to give yourself a specific plan that you can follow to meet your goals.
Be Strong, Be Healthy, Be in Charge!
-Alexis Supan, RD
- Ducrot P, Méjean C, Aroumougame V, Ibanez G, Allès B, Kesse-Guyot E, Hercberg S, Péneau S. Meal planning is associated with food variety, diet quality and body weight status in a large sample of French adults. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2017 Feb 2;14(1):12. doi: 10.1186/s12966-017-0461-7. PMID: 28153017; PMCID: PMC5288891.
- Paoli A, Tinsley G, Bianco A, Moro T. The Influence of Meal Frequency and Timing on Health in Humans: The Role of Fasting. Nutrients. 2019 Mar 28;11(4):719. doi: 10.3390/nu11040719. PMID: 30925707; PMCID: PMC6520689.
- Michelle C. Kegler, DrPH, Iris Alcantara, MPH , Julie A. Gazmararian, PhD Denise Ballard, MEd Darrell Sabbs. The Influence of Home Food Environments on Eating Behaviors of Overweight and Obese Women. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. Vol46, ISSUE 3, P188-196, MAY 01, 2014. DOI
- Mahmood L, Flores-Barrantes P, Moreno LA, Manios Y, Gonzalez-Gil EM. The Influence of Parental Dietary Behaviors and Practices on Children's Eating Habits. Nutrients. 2021 Mar 30;13(4):1138. doi: 10.3390/nu13041138. PMID: 33808337; PMCID: PMC8067332.
- Kucharczuk AJ, Oliver TL, Dowdell EB. Social media's influence on adolescents' food choices: A mixed studies systematic literature review. Appetite. 2022 Jan 1;168:105765. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2021.105765. Epub 2021 Oct 20. PMID: 34687823.
- M Story and P Faulkner, 1990: The prime time diet: a content analysis of eating behavior and food messages in television program content and commercials. American Journal of Public Health 80, 738_740
- Chaix A, Manoogian ENC, Melkani GC, Panda S. Time-Restricted Eating to Prevent and Manage Chronic Metabolic Diseases. Annu Rev Nutr. 2019 Aug 21;39:291-315. doi: 10.1146/annurev-nutr-082018-124320. Epub 2019 Jun 10. PMID: 31180809; PMCID: PMC6703924.
- Harris JL, Bargh JA, Brownell KD. Priming effects of television food advertising on eating behavior. Health Psychol. 2009 Jul;28(4):404-13. doi: 10.1037/a0014399. PMID: 19594263; PMCID: PMC2743554.
- Tosti V, Bertozzi B, Fontana L. Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet: Metabolic and Molecular Mechanisms. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2018 Mar 2;73(3):318-326. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glx227. PMID: 29244059; PMCID: PMC7190876.
- Monsivais P, Aggarwal A, Drewnowski A. Time spent on home food preparation and indicators of healthy eating. Am J Prev Med. 2014 Dec;47(6):796-802. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.07.033. Epub 2014 Sep 19. PMID: 25245799; PMCID: PMC4254327.
About Alexis Supan, MPH, RD
Alexis Supan, MPH, RD earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics from The Ohio State University and became a dietitian in 2009. She has also earned a Master of Public Health degree from Case Western Reserve University. Alexis enjoys talking about food and nutrition with both patients and colleagues. She is passionate about educating others on how to make realistic and sustainable changes that can help improve their health and quality of life. She currently splits her time between seeing patients individually and speaking to groups on specific health and nutrition concerns or interests they have.
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