Everyone knows that it is healthy to eat more fruits and vegetables and less fast food. Yet we often fail to eat really healthy. We often have our hands in the hair when composing a meal. You can’t eat dry salads every day, can you? In this article we explain the basics of a healthy diet in scents and colors . And of course we won’t leave you hungry and we also have 23 healthy diet tips for you to get started with.
What is a healthy diet?
A healthy diet is a diet that makes you feel super energetic and vital in the short and long term. A healthy diet provides you with the necessary nutrients and building blocks so that all your body functions and systems can work optimally.
That is why a healthy diet is not only important if you want to lose weight . Even if you want to gain weight or have already reached your desired weight, you naturally want to feel good. Slim people are often perceived as “healthier”, but that is certainly not always the case.
You are what you eat. And that’s not a crazy statement, when you consider how much influence food has on your life! Healthy eating reduces the risk of, for example, cardiovascular disease, cancer and certain age-related diseases. In addition, it prevents obesity. And a healthy diet is happier, more energetic and less likely to develop mental disorders.
So what you put in your mouth not only largely determines your physical health, but also has major consequences for your mental well-being. And that is a difference that you often feel after a few days!
What is healthy food?
Let’s take a look at what your overall healthy diet might look like. Indeed, “can” and not must, because there are discussions about many foods. Fortunately, most nutrition experts agree on these ground rules.
The rule of thumb that you can often follow is: the less processing the food has undergone, the better. Less processing also means: less chance for producers to add unhealthy junk to your food. For example, fresh fruits and vegetables, unprocessed meats, and sweet potatoes are excellent choices.
Of course there are exceptions. Products such as bread, cheese and yogurt do not grow on trees, but they do fit in a healthy diet. However, the following often applies here as well: the fewer operations, the better. After all, you would rather choose a whole grain bread without sugar than a hearty sweetened white bread!
Everything in moderation
“The poison is in the dose.” Humans are a super versatile eater. We can get energy from many nutrients . But there is an appropriate amount for everything. Some examples:
- Honey. Honey is an unprocessed product and a slightly healthier choice than white sugar. You can definitely use it every now and then. But one tablespoon a day is more than enough.
- fruits . Like honey, fruit is full of fructose. With 2 servings a day you hydrate yourself and provide you with good energy. But with 10 pieces a day you would put a lot of strain on your liver because it has to process all this fructose.
- fast food. We strongly advise against fast food. It is of course not healthy. But if you really like it and you go to your favorite burger joint once a month, the impact on your health is negligible. It’s not healthy, but if you do maintain a very healthy diet for the other 29 days, it certainly doesn’t have to be a disaster.
Rich in nutrients
Your body needs energy to function. Think healthy fats, slow carbohydrates and proteins . But don’t forget the vitamins and minerals: they are just as important.
Really view food as food. You literally want to feed your body with the very best nutrients. This guideline immediately makes some choices a lot easier. White bread or whole wheat bread? Whole grain contains much more fiber, vitamins and minerals! Snacking with fruit or with a bar of chocolate ? You can already guess the answer.
Sometimes, however, it is a little less clear. For example, the difference between steak from a grass-fed cow that can move freely and a grain-fed cow that moves little is less obvious. You can’t see it, but the first one does contain much more healthy omega 3 fatty acids. Fortunately, you can make the best choice even without being a nutrition expert. The more natural the food, the better.
Poor in bad substances
However, the amount of nutrients is not always the deciding factor. Often a second factor is also important: whether a product contains ingredients that are not so good for you. White sugar is of course a well-known example of this. Other substances that you do not want to eat too much of are synthetic colors and flavors and unhealthy fats.
Processed meat is certainly high in protein, but it’s also bursting with fats that don’t make your arteries happy. In fried foods, the fats oxidize, making them very harmful. And many ready-to-eat meals contain hardly any nutrition, but are full of synthetic factory food that your body does not recognize and that burdens your liver with processing it.
Food you enjoy
Healthy and tasty food do not necessarily go hand in hand for many people. In fact, the idea often prevails that healthy food must necessarily be a tasteless, dry bite. That is of course completely unjustified.
You want to feel better about healthy food. And that’s hard when you have to finish your meal with long teeth on a daily basis. There are more than hundreds of varieties of vegetables, fruits, fish and meat. So there is really no reason to eat something against your will.
23 Healthy Diet Tips
By eating healthy you feel energetic and vital, you have a stable energy level, you are less bloated and your mood and general feeling of happiness will also improve. Healthy eating also ensures that your body weight is back in balance.
Fortunately, a healthy diet is not that complex in the basics. Here you will find 23 tips to easily convert a healthy diet into practice, whether or not to lose an extra kilo.
The days when a healthy diet amounted to broccoli and chicken every day are thankfully over. We now know that variety is also essential for your diet. By choosing different vegetables, proteins, carbohydrates and fats every day, you get the widest possible range of nutrients.
An additional advantage of variation is that the health value of individual products becomes less important. By alternating, a slightly less nutritious product is always compensated by other foods!
2. Organize your board
If you don’t know what the right proportions are for a healthy meal, stick to some easy basic rules.
Fill half of your plate generously with vegetables. Get a protein source the size of your palm (that is, without your fingers). Make a small bowl with your hand and that is about the amount of carbohydrates you can take. And the size of your thumb corresponds to the amount of fat you can use.
3. Keep it simple
The acronym KISS (keep it simple and stupid) also applies to a healthy diet. You can of course decide to dive into the kitchen for two hours a day and prepare the most refined healthy meals there. However, experience shows that this is rarely successful. You last a week, then get too busy, and before you know it, you fall back into your old, unhealthy habits.
Keep it simple. Not only because you last longer, but also because it saves you stress and money.
4. Plan ahead
We all secretly know. Planning takes no time, but saves you a lot of time and energy. By determining in advance what you are going to eat this week, you can do your shopping in a targeted manner and you are prepared for a whole week. This prevents you from coming home from work in the evening and quickly ordering a pizza because you no longer feel like shopping.
5. The 80/20 Rule
A healthy diet doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s why the 80/20 rule is very useful. It works very simply: if you eat 80% healthy, the other 20% doesn’t really matter that much. So you have room there to occasionally have a piece of cake, a hand of chips or a glass of wine. Occasional ‘sinning’ prevents obsessive healthy eating, and also helps to stay motivated.
It is of course important that the 80-20% ratio does not secretly become a 50-50% ratio. Therefore, keep a close eye on the proportions. Sometimes exchanging a healthy meal for a pizza is fine, but to do it every week…
6. Eat fewer calories
Losing weight is not possible without eating fewer calories . Moreover, not constantly overeating is much healthier for your digestion anyway. It is therefore important that your healthy diet is designed in such a way that it can be done properly.
Eating fewer calories can be done in very small steps. Think about it: if you try to eat 100 kcal less every meal than you normally would, you will save about 300 kcal per day. That’s enough to lose a few ounces a week.
You can also choose to delete eating moments. For example, do you now snack a lot between meals? Then you can quickly save calories by eating less in between meals. Or keep snacking, but make healthier choices.
Furthermore, you often ‘automatically’ eat fewer calories if you choose satiating food as much as possible. This makes you full faster and you need less food!
7. Eat less fast sugars
If you want to eat fewer calories, it’s important that all your calories have a function. What do we mean by that? Put simply: everything you eat must contribute something, for example by supplying vitamins or ensuring a feeling of fullness .
Calories that actually have no function are called empty calories and do not belong in a healthy diet. They are foods that actually do not contain any healthy substances and are not really filling either. So you might as well not eat them. These are the first calories you cut if you want to lose weight!
The most important empty calories are fast sugars: added sugars that are mainly found in processed foods. Sugar contains practically no nutrients and it is very filling. In fact, due to the rapid sugar peak, it makes you hungry again very soon after eating – so that you eat more.
Eating less sugar can therefore help you enormously to lose weight. The fastest way to achieve this is by snacking more healthily and eating less ready-to-eat foods. Sweets and ready-made meals contain the most sugars!
If you want to do it all right, you can also take a close look at the labels of other products. Hearty food often contains more sugar than you think. But with sweets and ready-to-eat food you take the biggest first steps.
8. Eat More Fiber
Fiber actually does the opposite of sugar. They provide practically no calories, but they do make you feel more full. So that’s a win-win if you want to lose weight! And fiber is one of the most important things you can eat for a healthy intestinal flora. Since health and illness can often be traced back to gut health, it is essential that you prioritize gut health in a healthy diet.
Fiber is the reason why it is better to choose whole grains. They contain much more fiber than their ‘white’ equivalents. So always opt for whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, and so on. You will find that you need to eat much less of it to feel full!
Fiber is also found in other vegetable products, such as vegetables, fruit, nuts and legumes.
9. Eat more fruits and vegetables
Fruit and especially vegetables are really an asset to a healthy diet and to lose weight! They contain extremely few calories, even if you eat a lot of them. And they do help to prevent hunger.
Your daily 250 grams of vegetables often provides less than 100 kcal. It is certainly advisable to eat some more vegetables, because the following applies here: the more, the healthier. So be sure to eat a soup or salad with lunch, or nibble on carrots or tomatoes in between.
Something similar applies to fruit, although to a lesser extent. Fruit provides a lot of fiber, which we now know is important. In addition, it is a bomb of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Unfortunately, you cannot continue to eat fruit indefinitely. Many people suffer from fructose if they eat more than four or five pieces of fruit a day: that can cause stomach pains and intestinal complaints. 200 to 300 grams of fruit per day is a safe amount for almost everyone.
10. Eat more plant-based
In addition to fruit and vegetables, it is also important to regularly include other vegetable products in the menu. Not only because it makes it easier to lose weight, but also because it is healthier!
As we mentioned above, plant foods such as legumes, nuts and grains are packed with fiber. In addition, they are relatively slim, with the exception of nuts – which, however, are a very good supplier of healthy fats .
But on top of that, research shows that plant-based foods are very healthy in the long run. For example, many vegetables and legumes contain substances that improve your cholesterol levels and counteract inflammation in your body.
That doesn’t mean you have to suddenly go vegan. But the vast majority of the Netherlands eat too much animal and too little vegetable. It is a good idea to vary it a little more for both your weight and your health.
11. Eat Enough Protein
In addition to fiber, there is another category that is very important for satiety: that of proteins. Your body can only digest proteins slowly. This means that they remain in your stomach for a relatively long time after eating, resulting in longer satiety.
Do you not want to have to plan very extensively with your daily proteins? Then it often works well to simply choose a protein source the size of your palm with every meal.
Animal protein sources are, for example, meat and meat products, fish, dairy and eggs . Plant sources include soy and legumes, nuts and whole grains. Some vegetables also contain a small amount of protein.
12. Snack healthier
We already mentioned it: snacks are a pitfall for many people. Even if you eat three super healthy meals a day: if you eat a bag of chips in between, you still won’t lose weight.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t snack at all. In fact, snacks can be a great way to get extra protein or vegetables, for example. But then it is important that you choose healthy snacks !
Replace the biscuits, sweets and chips, for example, with whole-wheat toasts with lean toppings, raw vegetables with a dip or a piece of fruit. Or snack with a handful of nuts or a bowl of yogurt. By making smarter choices, you avoid hunger between meals but you don’t take in empty calories.
You will also notice that when you make your main meals healthy and filling, the need to snack decreases.
13. Drink water
Many people map out an extensive menu… and then forget to look at their drink. However, soft drinks in particular can be a source of hundreds of kcal per day.
What’s up with that? Soft drinks are a hefty calorie bomb, and the same goes for alcohol . That wine with dinner is unfortunately not so innocent when you look at the effect on your weight… In addition, calories from drinking are much more satiating than calories from eating. This way you get in a lot more than you need without noticing.
We therefore recommend that you only drink drinks that provide (almost) no calories. Such as water and tea, or coffee with possibly a dash of milk. Diet soft drinks are doubtful: although they provide no calories, the sweet taste sometimes ensures that you still have an appetite for food. In addition, large amounts of sweeteners are also not healthy.
Alcohol and drinks with sugar are really not recommended if you want to lose weight. The same goes for full-fat dairy and other drinks made with cream.
14. Make rice and pasta from vegetables
There is nothing wrong with healthy carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice and pasta. The problem is that we just eat too much of it. A tasty and healthy way to solve this is to (partly) replace your portion of rice or pasta with vegetable pasta. By this we mean rice or pasta that is made from vegetables.
You can find zucchini spaghetti in many shops these days. There are also pasta types that are made wholly or partly from lentils. Or how about cauliflower rice or cauliflower nasi? And instead of lasagna sheets you can use eggplant slices!
The nice thing is that in this way you can still eat your favorite dishes in a healthy diet, but just a little differently. You will consume less carbohydrates and a lot more vegetables. Depending on your needs, you can choose to partially or even completely replace your pasta or rice.
15. Make a healthy sauce or dressing
Sauces have a bad reputation when it comes to calories. And for a thick cheese sauce or béchamel sauce, this is right. These really only consist of fats and sugars.
But you can also make super healthy sauces! Just think of a delicious tomato sauce or a Provencal sauce that is only made with (fresh) vegetables. So try to replace the unhealthy sauces with healthy options whenever possible.
You can also easily make dressings more responsible. A jar of dressing from the store mainly consists of bad sugars and other added substances. But there are plenty of homemade alternatives. For example, mix some yogurt with mustard, or mix olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice for a very basic healthy choice. Also add spices and other seasonings to your heart’s content.
16. Banish unhealthy food from your home
A healthy diet comes naturally if you do not have unhealthy foods at home and do not have to resist temptations. By surrounding yourself with fresh fruits and vegetables, you will make it easier to choose. And vice versa: if you don’t have a slice of chocolate in the kitchen cupboard, you can’t easily reach for it at a weak moment!
By always keeping healthy food (including snacks) in stock, you make healthy eating a lot easier for yourself. The moments when you are suddenly hungry are often deadly for a diet or a healthy lifestyle. If you then have a tasty apple or a handful of nuts at hand, the chance is a lot smaller that you succumb to an unhealthy temptation.
And if you don’t have that temptation at all? Even better! Few people will cycle to the supermarket especially to get a bag of chips.
17. Steam your food
We find it quite normal to bake most of our food. A healthy diet should contain enough healthy fats, but you don’t have to fry everything all the time. By using cooking butter or oil, you add relatively many calories to your meal. In addition, we often set our heat too high, causing the fats to oxidize and bad substances to form.
When you steam your food, you don’t have to use extra fat. You can not only steam vegetables, but also potatoes, meat and fish. To give enough power and taste to your food, you can experiment with herbs. Lemon juice, soy sauce and other low-calorie seasonings are also recommended.
It may take some getting used to at first, but your taste quickly adapts to the subtler flavors of steamed food. You will find that you can taste much more of the uniqueness of your food.
18. Have a healthy appetizer
If you have trouble limiting your portions, you can start eating more as a solution. It sounds contradictory, but by eating more we mean that you can take an extra salad or soup as a starter, for example. A healthy diet should definitely not starve you. Most vegetables contain very few calories, but they do provide a feeling of fullness.
The consequence? You feel a lot fuller before you even start the main course. That makes it much easier to enjoy your main course in peace and leave that second portion.
Make sure that you choose a relatively lean soup or salad. A soup to which large splashes of cream have been added will not help you to reduce calories unnoticed. The same goes for a salad with a lot of cheese, fatty meat or a greasy dressing. Opt for lots of fresh vegetables and a leaner sauce.
19. Treat yourself to quality
If you don’t feel like cooking or have something to celebrate, don’t go for fast food. Unhealthy food gives you satisfaction for a while, but then you are left with messy intestines and extra weight on the counter. Instead, treat yourself with a trip to a good restaurant that really cooks with good, healthy ingredients.
Do you have something to celebrate and do you want to treat yourself? Then instead of that restaurant meal you can also choose ingredients that you normally find too expensive. When you opt for quality, you not only consume fewer calories, you also taste your food more intensely and enjoy the unique flavors even longer. And anyone who thinks a healthy diet and losing weight is really important will probably pay an extra euro for it.
20. Find Your Ideal Eating Schedule
You can approach a healthy diet in many ways. The traditional layout with three meals a day is certainly not ideal for everyone! For example, some people prefer to eat more often, with smaller meals.
Also see what is practical for you. When do you have a lunch break? Do you often eat out, and what healthy options can you conveniently take with you? When do you notice that you are hungry, and how can you cope with that?
In short: plan your meals in such a way that they work well for both your body and your practical planning. That way, there is a much greater chance that you will stick to your healthy diet to lose weight!
21. Practice intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting means that you only eat between certain times. Most people choose to skip breakfast and eat only between, say, 12 noon and 8 p.m. By not eating breakfast, you can afford the rest of the day a little more. Moreover, such a prolonged fasting period also has positive effects on your hormones.
Of course, be careful not to let yourself go completely during the hours in which you eat, because then you can still gain weight. Intermittent fasting is also not something you have to do every day. For example, you can choose to only fast when you know that you will eat more later in the day, or on days where you do not have intensive work.
22. Cook Yourself
It is best to take a healthy diet into your own hands. So cook yourself as much as possible. This is one of the most important choices you can make to lose weight.
To start with, cooking yourself ensures that no ‘sneaky’ calories sneak onto your plate. Many ready-to-use products from the supermarket are full of unnecessary sugars and unhealthy fats. You will soon get a lot more than you think. By cooking yourself, you keep this in your own hands!
Moreover, people usually eat with much more attention if they have been in the kitchen themselves. And that in turn has major consequences for your satiety. The more slowly you eat, the better your body will realize that you have indeed eaten enough.
Fortunately, cooking yourself does not have to take long at all. Especially if you use pre-cut vegetables, for example, you can have a meal on the table within fifteen minutes. And then you’re still cheaper than with a takeaway!
23. Change 1 thing
Switching to a healthy diet and sustainable healthy lifestyle is not always easy. Often people can no longer see the wood for the trees: what is allowed and what is not, how often should you eat, and what if you forget that handful of nuts a day…
But everyone can change one thing about their diet! So try to find one improvement and focus on that. Choose a “rule” that is simple, but can have a lot of impact. A few examples are:
- Always good breakfast
- No more drinking alcohol
- No scooping extra portions (or just scooping extra vegetables)
- Replace white grains with whole grains where possible
You’ll find that one adjustment quickly becomes a habit. And if it eventually goes pretty much by itself, you can add a new adjustment if you want!
What is a healthy meal?
Okay, so how do you plan your meals with these rules and tips? Each meal of the day has some specific functions that you can take into account, depending on your personal preference:
Healthy diet breakfast
Breakfast is an important meal because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Both mentally and physically.
Mentally it helps a lot if you have made a healthy start. Then you want to keep that going for as long as possible. If, on the other hand, you have a donut for breakfast, you quickly think that it no longer matters at lunch.
And physically it can make or break your day. If you start with a sugary bowl of cruesli or a white sandwich, that is the start of fluctuations in your blood sugar and the associated binge eating . However, a healthy, filling breakfast will help you eat well throughout the day.
There is nothing wrong with a serving of cereal for breakfast. But make sure that you already have a good portion of vegetables and/or fruit during your breakfast. It will stabilize your blood sugar and provide you with many healthy nutrients.
Healthy diet lunch
Many people eat a simple cheese sandwich for lunch. Fine of course, but it could be even better.
Lunch is the ideal time for a large portion of vegetables. Together with a good source of protein, you have all the energy you need to focus on your work for an entire afternoon. Don’t forget that vegetables already contain some carbohydrates. And that is more than enough for many people.
Healthy diet dinner
Even before dinner, many people still have profit to be made. Especially by giving vegetables a more important place on your plate.
Usually the piece of meat is the centerpiece of the meal, and we eat some vegetables with it because we have to. But look at this the other way around. What vegetables do you want to eat today? How do you want to prepare it? In addition, you can choose your favorite meat, fish or legumes.
Finally, a group of often overlooked recipes: the snacks! Many people automatically assume that they should not snack in a healthy diet. However, that is unnecessarily strict. There is nothing wrong with snacks, as long as they are not unhealthy snacks.