In this article we will talk about some healthy eating habits that helped me lose 25 kg, and may help you too.
When it comes to diets, each person has their own ways to adapt to healthy eating habits.
What is universally accepted as “healthy” can make other people run out of energy in the long term.
Or a diet plan that helps someone lose weight in a balanced way can be too calorie deficit for your body.
However, there are some scientifically-proven simple habits you can adopt to have healthier eating habits.
For example, adding more fruits and vegetables to your plate helps you avoid several chronic diseases.
I know switching to a healthy lifestyle after eating junk food all the time isn’t easy. I grew up eating foods full of sugar and saturated fats.
Making the choice to start eating healthy was difficult since my home didn’t offer alternative meals or snacks.
After some struggle, I found my footing and eventually managed to lose up to 25 kg. Here are the small steps I’ve taken through my journey that help me live a healthy and fun lifestyle:
1. Salads Don’t Have to be Boring
Growing up, I was taught that eating salad was for losers.
As absurd as it sounds, my parents were such huge lovers of meat that they didn’t consider vegetarian or vegan dishes as “normal” meals.
They could only be side dishes or appetizers for them.
My mom would say. “Salads aren’t nutritious enough. You need to eat something more filling.” And I agree.
Eating only a plate of rocket salad with a few cherry tomatoes isn’t healthy. Since it’s not nutritious enough, it would drain you and make you feel exhausted in a long term.
However, salads don’t have to be boring dishes. There are so many nutritious ingredients you can add to your bowl to make it healthier and more filling.
If I want to add meat or fish to my salad bowl, my favorite ingredients, in terms of protein, are grilled chicken, tuna fish, and salmon.
For a plant-based and filling salad, I always go with either chickpeas or red kidney beans. You can bake your chickpeas with sea salt, paprika, and oregano until they’re crispy (it’s a total game-changer).
Some other tasty ingredients you can add are cucumbers, carrots, avocado, feta cheese, strawberries, or bell peppers.
Making a salad is always up to your imagination. I love experimenting with my salad by adding different types of cheese or vegetables.
Take inspiration from world cuisine, such as Middle Eastern cuisine, which loves combining different ingredients.
Eating a certain food all the time isn’t sustainable and healthy.
My dietician suggested I eat salad for dinner (as long as they’re rich in protein) two to three times a week, but always listen to your body and how it feels afterwards so you don’t end up in an extreme calorie deficit.
2. Find Your Way of Having Snacks
When I started going to a nutritionist to lose weight, my snack options were quite restricted. I could only eat two pieces of walnuts, one apple, or a glass of milk.
However, in the long run, this wasn’t a sustainable option for me. I didn’t consider this a healthy way of snacking.
In diet culture, snacks are considered so “unhealthy” that you feel guilty after eating a piece of chocolate. As if that chocolate would stop your progress and take you back to where you started.
Having tried so many different diet types, I’ve found the one with restricted snacks the most inefficient.
Every time I craved a certain food but resisted eating it, I would binge-eat afterward. If the most important issue is calorie intake, I took more calories than I would have in the first place.
Since I stopped restricting my snack options and frequency, my diet has been more sustainable.
It also helped me stop binge-eating. As much as I love eating ice cream, I used to resist eating it so often.
Now that I allow myself to have ice cream whenever I crave it, I feel healthier and happier than ever since I no longer feel guilty.
To sustain your healthy eating habits, you should know there isn’t any “wrong” or “unacceptable” food.
Restricting food will lead you to binge-eating and frustration. And never forget that this journey should be fun. It’s not a way to punish yourself.
3. Healthify Your Favorite Recipes
This is probably one of the smartest and most effective healthy eating habits.
As I mentioned earlier, growing up in a meat-based household didn’t help me have healthy eating habits during my childhood.
Like every kid, I grew up loving what we were eating and thinking it was the only way of eating.
Indeed, when I started losing weight, it was difficult for me because what my family wanted to eat wasn’t even close to what my nutritionist suggested. At a certain point, I had to plan and cook my own meals.
Soon after, I realized I was fond of plant-based or balanced dishes more than our traditional meals. Later, I found I was in love with cooking as well.
So, now that I’d learned to cook, I started healthifying what I would eat as a child. My family loved using butter to cook, but I replaced it with olive oil and in no time, I fell in love with the taste.
Instead of frying chicken, I baked or grilled it with lots of seasoning (seasoning is always the key!) and found it more delicious.
Some of favorite seasoning is oregano, garlic, mint, ginger, paprika, curry, and black pepper.
Turkish cuisine is famous for breakfast, and as proud as I am of our salami- and pastry-breakfast, I can’t deny it’s extremely heavy to start the day.
Instead of abandoning our meals entirely, I picked up what I enjoyed eating and created my own healthy breakfast plate around it.
Another example is chicken curry which is one of my favorite dishes.
Although most people think it’s made only with heavy cream, the way it’s prepared in India changes from region to region, as a friend once told me.
I replaced heavy cream with milk and not only did it healthify the meal, it also tasted better.
You don’t have to stop eating your favorite meals just because they’re “unhealthy.”
Simply find ways to replace certain ingredients to make it healthier. But remember, you don’t have to do this to every meal.
If you enjoy it as it is, then keep eating it that way. Nothing is more important than the way you enjoy your food.
However, always encourage yourself to experiment. You never know what you’ll end up discovering.
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4. Keep These Foods Always in Your Kitchen
There are certain foods I often consume during the day to have a balanced diet and make sure I’m getting enough macronutritients. Since I want to get leaner, I prioritize proteins in my diet.
Chicken, meat, and fish are great sources of proteins, but between work and my daily life, I can’t always find time to cook. They’re also more expensive if you want to follow a budget-friendly diet.
To make sure I’m getting enough protein during the day, I always have milk (I prefer oat milk), yoghurt, and feta cheese in my fridge. Milk and yoghurt are great choices to have more protein.
I can use yoghurt for a granola bowl, a smoothie, or a side dish with rice. Yoghurt dressing also goes great for salads.
Feta cheese goes great with everything: in your salad, on your avocado toast, or with your scrambled eggs.
For canned foods, I always have tuna, chickpeas, and red kidney beans. They’re great options on the days I don’t want to cook.
I can make a sandwich with them, put them in my salad, or have them with leftover rice.
Last but not least, fruits and peanut butter are great to always keep in stock. I love bananas, apples, and strawberries. They’re full of vitamins and minerals and are great snack options with peanut butter.
Of course, everyone has different favorite foods. But once you experiment, you’ll realize what your body loves and finds healthy.
You want to make sure you’re not eating less than what your body needs.
5. Don’t Be Proud of Skipping Meals (Especially Breakfast)
There was a period of my life where I purposefully skipped meals. I wasn’t happy about where I was in my life, so at breakfast, lunch, or dinner time, I used my sadness to justify the fact that I was skipping a meal.
I know some people, including me, don’t feel hungry when they’re sad. But I reached a point where I only pretended I wasn’t hungry, even if I hadn’t eaten anything all day.
In that period, I had either lunch or dinner during the day and I only had purposefully small-portioned breakfast about once a week.
During the day, I only ate light snacks, such as yoghurt or fruit, but it wasn’t long before I found that instead of feeling healthier, I started feeling weaker. At just around noon, I would feel exhausted and be in a terrible mood, and I would get sleepy by eight p.m.
I didn’t realize (or let’s say, I ignored) that I was restricting myself a lot and having way too much deficit in calories. But I would see how skinny I looked in the morning, felt satisfied, and continued my game.
However resistant or stubborn we may be, our bodies are smarter than us. So inevitably, my body felt tired, and it got hungrier than ever.
I always felt the need to eat something. All the days of skipping meals finally caught up with me, so one day, I went back to where I’d started.
Next time you have to skip a meal, don’t be proud of it. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ve made huge progress.
Try to have three meals every day and always prioritize breakfast, since many dietitians emphasize its importance in a balanced diet.
Breakfast helps you start the day in a better mood and keeps your appetite in check during the day.
Your breakfast option is up to you, but I always go with something salty, as I find them more filling, such as avocado toast with feta cheese or boiled eggs with bread and salads.
On the days I crave something sweet or don’t have much time to prepare something, I go with either peanut butter toast or yoghurt with granola.
When you adapt to a balanced diet instead of skipping meals, your progress may take longer, but you wouldn’t go back to where you’ve started like I did.
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Healthy Eating Habits: Some Mindset Shifts
Don’t be obsessed about numbers:
Numbers on the scale don’t determine how healthy you are. You can be skinny and unhealthy or you can have flabby arms or muffin top and be healthy.
Instead. always listen to your body and how it feels after consuming certain foods. Since I learned to prioritize my mental health over my calorie intake, I’ve lost more weight than I did when I was obsessed about calories.
Know that life happens:
Success to be healthier isn’t linear.
Two years ago, eating healthy finally became normal in my life. I would go to the gym 3-4 days in a week and run at least twice in a week. I looked leaner than ever and felt so energetic every day. Just as I was thinking this would be my permanent lifestyle, I injured my knees very badly.
I couldn’t even walk properly for months.
I always tried to start working out in that period, but it took me two years to get back to a point I could start the gym again. Bear in mind that I still have to be careful about my knees. No running, no squats, nothing that would directly affect my knees.
Not everyone’s fitness or diet journey is same. Life gets in the way, and knowing this helps you have a better mindset. So, even when you end up messing up your knees, you just wait until your time comes back. Plus, you learn how not to push your limits.
Love your cute body:
However your journey looks like, know that you’re not doing this for your physical appearance but your wellbeing. We can find several reasons to hate our bodies if we want to.
But it takes courage to love our bodies despite all the “faults”. Your scars or muffin top are signs that you keep living. That you’ve left a beautiful trace in this world. And that’s a great reason to be proud of yourself.
Eating: Healthy Habits – Final Thoughts
- No food is boring. Making fun and filling recipes is up to your imagination.
- You shouldn’t feel guilty for snacking. Look at snacks as your comfort zone to have some joy during the day.
- Your favorite food shouldn’t be unhealthy. You can always find a way to replace some ingredients.
- Make a list of the most nutritious foods you like and bring it to the grocery store.
- Skipping meals isn’t a successful way to eat healthy. Know that eating healthy starts with “eating” well first.