There are many choices involved in leading a healthy lifestyle.
And a huge part of this is opting for a healthy eating regimen or balanced diet.
However, if you tap “healthy recipes” into Google you’re overwhelmed with choice – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – but where do you start?
If you’re really focused on improving your diet, whether it’s to lose weight or just generally improve your health, it’s important to understand what you’re eating.
Let’s start with some understanding of what “healthy eating” really is.
What Exactly is Eating Healthy?
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a healthy eating plan should:
- Place emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free milk products and milk
- Include nuts, eggs, beans, fish, poultry, and lean meats
- Be low in added sugars, salt (sodium), cholesterol, trans fats, and saturated fats
- Be in keeping with your recommended daily calorie intake
How Many Calories Should You Be Consuming?
In order to lose weight, the majority of people will need to reduce how many calories they consume on a daily basis while also increasing how much exercise they do.
Therefore, to lose weight at an average of 1-1.5lbs per week, calorie intake should be reduced by 500-700 per day.
In general, healthy eating plans will allow:
- 1,200-1,500 calories per day for women
- 1,500-1,800 calories per day for men (and women who exercise regularly or weigh more)
This will allow you to lose weight safely. And any diets that limit you to 800 calories per day should only be carried out under the supervision of your doctor.
Putting Together (and Enjoying!) Easy Healthy Recipes
Eating healthy helps you keep your weight in check – but did you know that this can include a whole host of foods that you might not have considered at first?
It’s natural for us all to think about those foods we can’t have when we’re thinking about healthy meals – but let’s have a look at what you can have (and just might enjoy!):
Fruit (Fresh, Frozen, or Canned)
When it comes to fruit, don’t just think about bananas and apples. All fruit, whether it’s fresh, frozen, or canned is a great choice for your healthy eating plan.
Add some exotic fruits to the mix for something a little more exciting – e.g. a kiwi fruit, delicious pineapple, or juicy mango. And when your favorite fruits aren’t in season and aren’t available fresh, try dried, canned, or frozen so you can still enjoy their great flavors.
One thing to note, though – some canned fruits may have added syrups or sugars so always choose the ones that come in their own juice or water.
Vegetables (Fresh, Frozen, or Canned)
If the thought of vegetables makes your toes curl, why not start by trying something different?
You might find that when you steam or grill certain vegetables they take on a whole new flavor that you can’t get enough of, especially if you team it with a tasty herb, like rosemary.
Alternatively, you could try sautéing some veggies in a pan with a little bit of cooking spray. Or, for something quick and easy, stick some canned or frozen vegetables in the microwave and serve as a side dish to your main meal.
Again, be cautious with canned varieties as some will come with added cream sauces, butter, or salt.
Foods Rich in Calcium
When you’re told to eat more dairy as part of your diet, you may start thinking of fat-free or low-fat milk, but there are also fat-free and low-fat yogurts in an assortment of flavors. These sugar-free alternatives can hit the spot if you’ve got a sweet tooth and are great for satisfying your cravings for a dessert.
Try a New Twist
Does one of your favorite recipes involve frying or breading something? Well, why not try a new take on it by grilling or baking?
You could even try substituting higher-fat meats for dry beans. After all, there are plenty of healthy dinner recipes online that can give you some ideas on how to change up certain meals.
It probably won’t be too long until you’ve got a new favorite dish – trust us.
Missing Comfort Food?
Do you need to avoid it completely?
No, of course not!
Instead, the key is to only eat it now and again, making sure you balance it out with lots more healthy food and plenty of exercise.
So try eating comfort food less frequently (reducing to once a week or once a month, depending on how often you’d eat them). Eat smaller amounts, e.g. half a chocolate bar instead of a full one, or try a low-calorie version of your favorite comfort meal. For example, if you love macaroni cheese, try making it with less butter, zero-fat milk, and light cream cheese (throwing in a few tomatoes and some spinach for good measure).
Ultimately, any food is OK within your healthy recipes so long as it’s still helping you maintain your weight or lose it.