Five Beginner Ways to Jumpstart Your Healthy Eating

Let’s face it, making any significant change to your lifestyle is going to seem a little overwhelming at first. Thankfully, you don’t have to cut pizza out of your life forever to make huge steps toward self-improvement. It’s also okay if you don’t understand everything about kombucha tea or anything else you’ve heard on that nutrition podcast yet.

These are five takeaways that I picked up from my healthy and sustained 20-pound weight-loss that may not get you all the way to your end goal, but they are an easy place to start.

Yes, you may think, “duh,” when you read them, but if you’re honest with yourself- are you actually being vigilant about these things? I sure wasn’t!


1. Calories

Just count them! Yes, it’s a pain in the butt. Yes, it’s really tempting to not count the carrots and hummus that you just snacked on. Yes, they actually add up. I found it easiest to separate everything out into portions as soon as I bought it. If I started eating directly out of the bag that a food came in there was no chance that I’d keep track of how much I took out. Instead, try separating your foods out into serving sizes as soon as you open them. I like to use small Tupperware with a post-it note on top to let me know how many calories each serving I grab is going to add to my daily count.


2. Labels

One of the easiest ways to cut out junk food from your life is to get invested in reading the labels on your food before you put it in the cart. I have a hard rule for holding myself accountable in the grocery store. If I can’t tell you what one of the ingredients is, then the package is going back on the shelf. No, I’m not saying that every long word on an ingredient list is something scary, but this rule keeps my whole food intake higher than my processed food intake.


3. Snack Drawer

Don’t do it! I recently made the mistake of thinking that at this point in my healthy eating career I was responsible enough to control my snacking at work. Fun fact: I am not. If you’re like me, you’ll fill that drawer with two weeks’ worth of snacks, and you’ll eat them all in two days. I know I don’t need them, but it’s way too easy to reach back for something munch on. Instead, pick up a snack on your way out the door each day. If you’re eating substantial meals, you do minimal physical labor during the day, and you have no limiting health conditions, then there is no reason that you should need a full arsenal of snacks at your fingertips.


4. Drinks

What you drink is just as important as what you’re eating. For the longest time I ate all of the right things, and then I washed them down with an extra sweet tea. This led to no progress. Water is key. A lot of the sugary sports drinks you’re consuming during your workouts are holding you back, and that cup of coffee doesn’t need four creamers. Again, just read your labels and be conscious and honest about everything you’re putting in your body.

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5. Guilty Pleasures

Anyone who knows me will tell you that the two things I love most in this life are a giant plate of loaded nachos and a glass or three of wine. Giving these up completely, for me, was just not realistic. Kudos to all of those who can manage this level of self-restraint, but for the rest of us I think moderation is the most important thing to remember. You hear it over and over that moderation is key, but to really keep yourself from pigging out it’s probably best to give this idea of moderation a little bit of structure. My way of holding myself accountable in this area was to give myself one day a week off of the rules. I chose Saturdays as a free day so I could feel like I had something to look forward to after a successful week. Tailor this idea up or down to fit your goals and your mindset, and use it as a guilt-FREE time. One yummy meal during the week is not going to wreck your progress, and it may just keep you from giving up altogether later.


About the Author

Rachel Clark is a 23-year-old mechanical engineer. Her everyday habits have allowed her to lose 20 pounds and keep that weight off for over a year now. She enjoys running, attempting to use the equipment at the gym correctly, and teaching private saxophone and clarinet lessons. She also loves trying to convince her meat and potatoes family to eat her "weird health food."

"I have improved my health tremendously through these changes, and I would love to share them with others."