How to make eating healthy a habit

Eating healthy may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to. Once you break down what you need, for you, and make small, conscious, adjustments to your day-to-day, you may be surprised how quickly what was originally a challenge, can become “just what you do”. Before you know it you have made a lifestyle change. Rather than a fad diet, this is something that is sustainable, as it is non-restrictive and suits your life.


The food

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be confusing. Keep it simple.

  • Choose whole foods over processed. Foods that are closest to their natural form, avoiding additives and strange numbers in the ingredients list.
  • Ensure your plate is filled with colour. With a range of fresh fruit and vegetables of varying colours, comes a range of nutrients that your body requires.
  • Balance your plate. Aim for ¼ protein, ¼ grains or legumes, ½ fibrous vegetables, plus healthy fats.
  • Start your day with a good portion of protein (eggs, high protein yoghurt, protein powder, wholegrain oats), this will set you up well from the start. Avoid a sugar driven breakfast option.
  • If you have a sweet tooth, the internet is full of healthier baking options, experiment and find what you love, make a habit of turning to these over store-bought biscuits and sweets.
  • Practise the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time consume nourishing, healthful foods, 20% of the time allow yourself soul foods.
  • Avoid nut and seed oils, these are chemically processed.  Instead stick to olive, avocado, coconut oils, or butter.
  • Drink water! Reduce the amount of alternative drinks consumed.  Water is king.

The habit

Create simple habits around your day-to-day meals, and weekly routine. Consistency is a big key to eating healthy and becomes your very own non-negotiable.

  • Identify what meal or meals trip you up, and make a plan for them.
  • Set aside a regular day and time each week to plan for the week following.
  • Have a consistent shopping day, avoid food shopping ‘on the fly’.
  • Keep a ‘referrals list’ of your family’s favourite meals, have the ingredients listed so you can quickly work out what you need from the shop.
  • Shop with a list, and stick to it.
  • If it helps to stay on track to avoid snacking all day, set daily calendar reminders for times to snack, ensuring you stick to that time, ie, morning 11am, afternoon 3.30pm.

The lifestyle

Becoming conscious of how and why you make decisions around your eating (or, in fact, anything in your life), will slowly shift the lifestyle you lead.  Bring a consciousness to your eating.

  • Before you reach into the cupboard, stop for a moment, ask yourself, why am I here? Are you hungry? Or are you tired, bored, thirsty, or simply there out of habit?
  • When you eat, sit down, look at your food, tune into the taste and texture as you eat. Enjoy the process.
  • Respect your body, it does a lot for you, consider if you are powering it in the right way.
  • Ask yourself as you make any meal decision, ‘Is this nourishing me in some way today?’.

Eating healthy on a budget

With all of this in mind, how, in our challenging world of food pricing today, do we eat on a budget? Some of the answers to this are already above, as once you get these in place, the benefits on the pocket will begin to show.

  • Set yourself up with the basics from the start, this part may feel expensive but it will cost you less in the long run. Shop for your essential herbs, spices, oils, pastes, etc.
  • Keep an essentials list and add to your shopping list as these are required.
  • Meal plan and write shopping lists.  Consequently, if you stick to the list, you are less likely to add things into the trolley that are not really needed.
  • Find recipes with what you have in the cupboard, or that use little ingredients. Google is your friend, and there are endless options these days online.
  • Buy frozen vegetables if they are cheaper than fresh, these are just as good.
  • Buy tinned foods. Legumes, vegetables and even fruit with no added sugar is a good alternative when fresh is not affordable.  Just read the label to ensure there are no additives.
  • Shop the meat specials.
  • Avoid buying too many meals out. Take your lunch to work, plan take-out as a treat.

What are the benefits of eating healthy?

The benefits in learning to make healthy eating a habit are extensive.  You will master a routine that means you no longer have to use up additional brain capacity to think about food all the time. You will have energy; sleep better; live healthier for longer; simply know you are giving your body what it needs to feel good, and live the lifestyle you want.

Would you like support making healthy eating a habit? Get in touch to find out how I can help.

If you are interested in habit formation, not just in eating, but in any aspect of life, I recommend reading James Clear’s Atomic Habits.

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