mollie j. -> Small Steps: Five Ways to Begin A Healthy Diet

by Holly on January 5, 2011

in guest posts,healthy tips,reader's request

Sometimes a new year is exactly what’s needed to begin healthy eating habits. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reminded of this from lovely readers who’ve e-mailed me for help jumpstarting a healthy diet. It’s been on my to-blog list (yes, I have a to-blog list!) for awhile before┬áMollie e-mailed me with this most perfect post. I’m scratching my planned post, letting her do the talking and taking the night off. See you tomorrow with some sad news, good news + a celebration!

Good nutrition may seem like a difficult challenge to some, but in reality, maintaining a healthy and consistent diet can be quite simple using a series of small steps that will ultimately transform your life and what you eat. Maintaining a healthy diet can be made simpler using techniques that others have tried, which worked for them.

Here are a few examples of relatively simple and easy ways to begin living a healthy lifestyle:

Establishing A Nutrition Routine

The easiest and most obvious plan is three meals spaced around the day, with one or two healthy snacks between these main meals. Breakfast, which some assume can be skipped in order to save on calories, should always be eaten as otherwise the body may require even more food later in the day to satiate its hunger.

Avoid Processed Foods

Most processed food not is incredibly unhealthy, but also lacks most, if not all, of the beneficial qualities of raw and untreated foods. Milk, for example, is considered to be one of the healthiest foods available. Adult humans can subsist healthily off of raw milk for their entire lives, due to milk providing all eight of the essential amino acids our body requires from food. Processed milk is treated with heat which destroys much of these beneficial qualities. Raw vegetables and fruits are arguably much healthier than genetically modified fruits and vegetables, but unfortunately can be difficult to find in a grocery store. The best place to shop is at a local farmer’s market, where fresh produce that is GMO-free can easily be found. Buy meat from farms that only feed their cattle grass, as this is the natural diet of cattle and produces the best quality beef.

Balancing a Diet

Eating meat is not necessarily an unhealthy practice, but when eating more meat than any other of the food groups, a red flag is definitely raised. Only a few ounces of meat are suggested for a full day’s serving. Cutting meat out of the diet is not at all required. Instead of using meat as the center of a dish, try searching for recipes or augmenting recipes so that meat is much more of an accent to something such as a pasta dish or flavored rice. Carbohydrates and proteins make up approximately 80% of a healthy diet, with carbohydrates consisting of about 50% of the total diet. Many assume that carbs should be cut from a diet, but this is not true and can negatively affect one’s wellbeing. Carbohydrates provide most of the body’s energy, so it still be maintained as the majority of one’s diet.

Cut Out the Right Fats

While it is true that some fats negatively affect the body, some fats in our diets are benefiting us without us even realizing. Fatty acids such as linoleic and linolenic acids are required for reproduction of cells and body growth. Prostaglandin, a hormone which regulates the blood pressure, inflammation, and blood clotting of the body, is also produced using fatty acids. Healthy fats can be found in olive oil, nuts, and fish caught in cold water such as salmon.

Experiment with Your Diet

Use the opportunity beginning a diet has given you as a reason to expand your culinary expertise and taste pallet. Instead of red meat, substitute it with a type of fish or chicken. There are many different grains available besides white rice and pasta. Multigrain rice and pasta is a great place to start. There is also millet, spelt, barley, quinoa, and a host of other grains that provide health alternatives for a meal.

What is YOUR #1 tip for beginning a healthy diet? Sharing is caring!


Evan Thomas January 5, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Great tips! I know experimenting, sticking with what grows out of the ground, and keeping a semi-normal routine keeps me motivated to eat healthy.

I try to keep veggies and fruits I can eat quickly around to encourage myself to go with those. I also would say to just stick with it! It’s amazing how after a day or two of thinking you’re dying with less sweets you lose your cravings for them.

VeggieGirl January 5, 2011 at 8:33 pm

My tip = eat adequately.

chelsey @ clean eating chelsey January 5, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Great post! I think when starting a healthy diet, it’s important to be educated. A lot of time foods people “think” are healthy are totally not!

Kaley January 5, 2011 at 8:41 pm

I really think the biggest tip I have would be to be aware. However, most healthy living bloggers are all too aware. (It’s good to let go sometimes.)

Amber January 5, 2011 at 8:57 pm

To help keep healthy foods quick and easy I cook a few meals on Sunday, portion them out in individual dishes and freeze them. This way I can eat healthy even on those days I don’t feel I have enough time.

I also try to make one new thing every week or every couple of weeks. It keeps things interesting which will help you stay on the healthy eating path.

Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks January 5, 2011 at 9:00 pm

I think it’s important to remember that every little decision you make matters. It’s not about grandstanding and making sweeping proclamations about how today, you’re finally going to start eating healthy and following a strict diet. Just take it one decision at a time, and try to choose what’s best for you whenever you can!

courtney January 5, 2011 at 9:00 pm

A site I find useful and one that is a great link for readers to find the latest evidence based, practical nutrition information is at the American Dietetic Association, Eat Right website at:

This information is provided by registered dietitians, recongnized food and nutrition experts who have met academic and professional requirements to provide un-biased evidence based nutrition information to the public. Readers are sure to find information that is not based on fads or quick fixes!


Nelly January 5, 2011 at 9:30 pm

The best advice I’ve found? Shop around. I’m positive I’ll be in the minority here, but I eat a diet that, while built on varying levels of strictness, focuses on paleo/primal eating. In a nutshell, that means no added sugars, processed foods or grains, and relatively high levels of protein and fat, along with boatloads of veggies and some fruit.

A lot of people are horrified when I tell them about it. I’ll fully admit that to someone whose idea of a healthy diet is based on plenty of whole grains (meaning most of my family), it sounds like madness. But, truth be told, it’s the best plan I’ve found so far…for me. I evangelize on the subject as much as I can, just because it’s the one plan I’ve found that makes my body work better than ever before, and that helps me constantly improve my fitness. And the only reason I know this is because I went way, way out on a limb and tried it, without which I would never have known.

So if you’re not totally satisfied with how your diet makes you feel, keep looking, and don’t knock it til you’ve tried it (unless it’s that one diet where the dude ate nothing but junk food for months. Just ew).

Disclaimer: I do CrossFit, power lifting (with a barbell) and some low-intensity cardio (like hiking) with sprinting sprinkled in here and there. Someone with a fitness routine geared more towards running or other heavy cardio would probably need more carbs than I get.

Amanda (Eating Up) January 5, 2011 at 9:39 pm

My tip is to not over think it. Trust your body, and go with the signals it’s telling you!

Grace January 5, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Love this post! These are all things I try to do! One tip that works for me is to take an inventory of where I have been straying from my ‘healthy’ diet and cut it out for a certain amount of time. For example after the holiday season I decided to cut out all sweets until Feb. 1st. A few years ago during the Lent season I gave up fried foods, soda, and ice cream ( I worked at an ice cream shop). These things are obviously bad for you but I was in high school at the time. At midnight when lent was over I let myself have fries, soda, and a dessert while out with friends and realized they didn’t taste that good! I still love some great fries on occasion and I don’t think I’ll ever lose my love of dessert but I never drink soda. I think it gives some perspective and allows you to realize you don’t NEED it=)

April January 5, 2011 at 10:57 pm

One of the biggest tips I have learned is your plate/meal needs to have color! The more colors (natural, no artificial neon lights going on) the better the nutrients!

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) January 6, 2011 at 12:03 am

Good info! I like carbs, I think we need them, thank you for not shunning them and for talking about fats.

My #1 tip = eat more veggies. Period.

Lauren January 6, 2011 at 1:27 am

My number one is to make sure that you are not sacrificing flavor!! Most people do not realize how flavorful fruits and veg are without anything added. If you loose flavor, then you wont stick with the healthy eating diet.

Katie January 6, 2011 at 5:41 am

I have t say it’s all about balance, start small, and also know what foods are really HEALTHY, some people think what they are eating is, like for instance someone might eat a salad because its healthy but then pile on croutons and very fattening dressing! No good!

Lauren January 6, 2011 at 5:48 am

Eating balanced is the best advice I can give anyone. It’s not what you are eating but what you are NOT eating! Words to live by.

Fi January 6, 2011 at 5:58 am

Water, fresh air, carbs and 3 good meals-with carbs :) xx

Jecka January 6, 2011 at 6:20 am

My #1 tip is to listen to your body. Some people wonder why their tummy growls so much when “dieting”… it’s because it’s screaming at you that it needs something! Same thing goes with fitness. If it hurts (which isn’t the same as feeling tired) STOP! Your body gives you signals that need to be paid attention to!

Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) January 6, 2011 at 7:20 am

One of my tips is to drink some H20 throughout the day. Feeling thirsty can cause overeating because we subconsciously want to drink something. I always drink a couple glasses of water in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night. It keeps me feeling energized and healthy and does wonders for the skin. :D

Great tips, Holly! :D

Kailey @ Caffienated Nut January 6, 2011 at 8:46 am

love these tips – especially the breakfast one. I feel like everyone skips it to save calories, when it can actually save you calories in the long run. oh well – c’est la vie.

Teri [a foodie stays fit] January 6, 2011 at 10:01 am

#1 tip – have a good breakfast. a good-sized, nutritionally balanced breakfast. if i don’t, i’m doomed for the day.

Megan (Braise the Roof) January 6, 2011 at 10:33 am

Stock up! I totally stole it from Jillian Michaels, but she’s right: you can’t eat junk if it isn’t there. Buy your favorite produce/snacks/proteins regularly, switching up your choices from time to time to keep things interesting and it won’t seem so tough to find healthy choices.

BroccoliHut January 6, 2011 at 7:31 pm

My number one diet tip: eat by color!

Jess January 6, 2011 at 9:19 pm

My number one? Hmmm, EAT ENOUGH! :) If you don’t eat enough, everything falls apart!

Greatttt advice!!

Sarah January 7, 2011 at 9:56 am

What a great post!
For me, cutting out almost all sugar really helps me a lot. I have more energy, clearer skin, and a lot fewer urges to binge.

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