6 Healthy eating habits that will improve your life
Updated: Mar 11
Negotiate the minefield of nutrition advice with these easy-to-follow principles
Nutrition is a huge subject, with a multitude of conflicting advice about healthy diets. Some nutritionists advocate veganism (excluding meat and animal products from your diet). Others support a meat-based diet, such as Paleo. Then there are those who advise eating only ‘raw’ foods (nothing cooked at above 48 degrees Celsius). And more who say almost all food you eat should be cooked.
All this advice is likely to make you reconsider the foods you eat. Certainly, each diet type has sound nutritional qualities. But how do you onboard a healthy diet and ensure it becomes part of your daily routine?
In this blog, you’ll learn six healthy eating habits that will help you get the nutrition you need and maintain a balanced weight.
6 principles of eating well
After years of reading books and articles on the subject and trying different nutritional diets myself, I’ve realised that, regardless of which diet you follow, it’s imperative to become habitual about eating well. My experience tells me that you need to break old eating habits that are bad for your health, and commit to a new way of eating.
Here are my six principles of eating well – healthy eating habits that will improve your life beyond expectation:
1. Avoid processed foods
Remove processed foods from your diet, or at least eat as little of them as possible. What do I mean by processed food? Anything that comes in a package with a list of ingredients on it. Buy fresh products (fruits, vegetables, grains such as rice, legumes such as beans and lentils, fresh meat/chicken/fish). Yeah, it takes a bit more time to prepare the food, but it’s definitely worth the effort! The less processed food you eat, the more you’ll be able to taste the chemicals these foods contain when you do eat them. Only then will you realise how unnatural, and therefore unhealthy, processed foods are.
2. Eat at regular times of the day
Your body has a rhythm. Your heart beats at a certain rate, your breath has its own pace, and so on. Your digestive system has a rhythm as well, and it makes it easier for your body to manage itself when you eat regularly.
If you stay hungry for too long, your body starts panicking and will store more fat the next time you eat. Another disadvantage of eating when you’re too hungry is that you tend to eat more than you need to, faster than you should, and you’ll probably make the wrong food choices (otherwise known as binge eating).
When you feel hungry, the body is signalling that it needs sugar to support the brain. But if you simply tell yourself that you’re hungry, that it’s ok to be so, and that soon you’ll get the nutrition you need, you’ll start to make the right choice of what to eat and how much to eat.
3. Avoid eating too much
Most people don’t realise that they usually eat more than they need to. If you’re the one putting the food on your plate, always put less than you think you’ll need. It will probably be enough. If you’re eating out, listen to the sensation of when you feel full, and stop there. I know this is hard, but learning to keep this discipline will keep you healthier and leaner.
4. Avoid any drink that comes in a bottle or a can
Drink either water or fresh juice. The amount of sugar and chemicals in canned and bottled drinks is disastrous!
5. Reduce the amount of sugar you consume
I don’t just mean the sugar that you put in your coffee. Lots of things have sugar in them, like energy bars and cereals. If you keep to eating habit numbers 1 and 4, you’ve already succeeded in reducing your sugar consumption significantly.
Managing your blood sugar level is vital for good health. It will also help with managing your hunger sensations and cravings. If you consume a lot of sugar in one go, the sugar level in your blood spikes up rapidly. It then drops just as rapidly, and you will crave sugar once again. Sugar and fat trick the brain into wanting more food – you can avoid this by minimising the amount of sugar you eat and by eating whole foods.
Whole foods contain fibres that slow down the absorption of sugar into your blood. This decreases the height of your sugar spike. Therefore, the drop is less intense and your craving for more food is reduced.
6. Avoid eating at least 2-3 hours before you go to sleep
This will make the job for your digestive system a lot easier. You want to keep your digestive system in good shape, as it has a vital role of absorbing all the good stuff from your food (like vitamins and minerals) and distributing it in your body, and then getting rid of all the waste. So do your best to take good care of it.
How can you change your eating habits?
I don’t believe in extreme changes, they’re often unrealistic. A much better way to alter habits is to do so slowly and meaningfully. Don’t try to do all the above immediately. Choose one principle and try to see how you get on with it for a month, or longer if you need to. Don’t be hard on yourself if you have a small relapse. As long as you are striving towards that goal, it’s fine – you’ll get there.
Remember, nutrition affects your mood, too
Commonly, western nutritionists and dieticians concentrate only on the symptom and match a treatment to it. For example, the symptom of obesity will be treated with a strict diet. In Chinese medicine, we work very differently. We look at the person as a whole and diagnose accordingly. We then treat both the symptom and the root cause.
Broadly speaking, health conditions, issues and diseases are a result of either internal or external factors, or a combination of both. Internal factors are emotions, for example. External factors may include nutrition and diet. Hence, the wrong diet can cause small changes in your body that can manifest in many ways, such as anxiety and insomnia.
Live life to the fullest