When it comes to eating healthy, I find it is best to strive for improvement rather than perfection. By making simple changes, you can improve the way your family eats without feeling overwhelmed. Here are just 10 simple ways to eat healthier this year.
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10 Ways to Eat Healthier
1. Cook dinner at home
One of my favorite ways to eat healthier is to prepare my own meals. This way you know what ingredients you are using and can control how healthy your meal really is. I love using Pinterest for recipe inspiration.
2. Buy more fresh and frozen veggies and fewer canned vegetables
Frozen peas, corn and green beans are staples in our house. They don’t take up a lot of room in the freezer and have much less sodium than canned versions. Frozen vegetables can be preserved without adding salt and other preservatives.
Fresh veggies would be better an even better option, but they need to be consumed or preserved pretty quickly. Frozen veggies can be stored for several months, so less planning is required.
3. Buy more ingredients and fewer pre-made foods
I used to use baking mix to make biscuits and pancakes. Looking back, it never really made sense to use baking mix when we always had the necessary ingredients on hand to make pancakes and biscuits from scratch.
Other regular items I used to buy pre-made, but now make myself are:
Each of these are so simple to make that I don’t know why I ever bought pre-made.
4. Don’t give up desserts
That’s right. You don’t have to give up desserts. Just bake your own instead! This way you can control how much sugar you add to your own recipes. Plus you may have sweets less often simply because making your own takes more time and effort.
I also recommend using real sugar or natural sweeteners, such as honey or maple syrup, rather than artificial sweeteners. Of course, all sweets should be consumed in moderation.
5. Start your day with a glass of water
When you drink a glass of water before eating breakfast, you are setting yourself up to be well hydrated throughout the day. My personal goal is to drink a minimum of 4 tall glasses of water each day. This means before my kids wake up I am already a quarter of the way to my water goal.
Also, contrary to popular belief, drinking more water does not make you have to pee more often. It may for a short time in the beginning as your body adjusts to being adequately hydrated, but stick with it.
Keeping a water glass or bottle near you at all times will also encourage you to drink more water throughout the day.
6. Adopt the mentality that pop is a dessert, not a beverage.
Yes, I say pop. Now that we are past that… pop has no nutritional value and should not be a daily beverage choice.
I’ll admit I will drink pop when it is made available at gatherings. My husband will also buy Coke when we have rum in the house (which is rare). We treat pop more like a dessert rather than a beverage that we drink when we are thirsty.
7. Buy 100% fruit juice
Most juices have added sugar an other ingredients unless it says 100% fruit juice. The high Vitamin C content in fruit juice also makes it great for when you start feeling the symptoms of a cold.
8. Add fruit to your morning cereal or oatmeal
In the summer this is really easy with fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries being in season and readily available. When fresh fruit is not an option, sliced bananas and frozen berries also go great on cereal.
9. Quit buying fake fats (i.e. margarine and shortening)
I started buying real butter instead of margarine, in both stick and tub form, and haven’t looked back since. Margarine contains man-made ingredients that I would rather not have my family eating when there is a natural alternative.
Butter is made with just 1 ingredient…cream…2 ingredients if you buy the salted variety. However, butter is not easily spreadable when it is cold so it is best to set out a half hour before you will need it, or buy a version that has olive oil added to make it more spreadable
I have found that olive oil, coconut oil or real butter can be used in place of vegetable oil or shortening in most recipes. Coconut oil is a fat that can actually help you fight fat when you replace up to 2 tablespoons per day of other fats with coconut oil. (Tip: Don’t store coconut oil in refrigerator. It will be too solid to scoop out when you need it.)
10. Use whole grain ingredients when possible
My family uses 100% whole wheat bread, whole grain pastas and brown rice because they are less processed and contain more fiber than white grain products. I also buy whole wheat flour and will substitute all or a portion of the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour in recipes.
If you want help to use your mornings well and live with more intention, the Make Over Your Mornings course is my favorite way to do that. It’s a 14-day online course by Crystal Paine. Each day includes a short video, reading material from a printable workbook, and a daily project.
I have previously worked through the course in May right before my kids got out of school for summer break and then again in January after a busy holiday season when I felt like I needed to get back into a better routine. The cost includes lifetime access to the materials, so you can re-visit the course as much as you want. Find out more here.