woman holding sliced watermelon

Easy Guide – What Are The Real Benefits of Healthy Eating and Why it Matters?

If you think back to when you were a child, what type of food were you eating, and what are the benefits of healthy eating anyway?

I come from a very Western family from a small village, carbs and sugar were the main sources of energy in all our meals. The diversity in health that was available was close to none, and we had a cooked meal every night that would include potatoes, with the exception of the fast food diner from around the corner. Rice was considered a fancy treat to go with our Sunday steak dinner. Breakfast was pure sugar, eggs were available on the weekend or in the form of a pancake. The perfect way to start your day I say.

The world we live in now is different. The options we have, especially in urban areas, are limitless. It does create some better choices, but too much is just like not enough. The choices you now have for processed food are at an all-time high. So how do you choose, does the healthy food you think of actually healthy? Or it’s just what people say?

woman in white shirt eating

Maybe the idea of providing better food choices for yourself and your family came to your head. But what are the benefits of healthy eating?

I remember my husband and I sitting in the car on our way to our family about 10 years ago, we were listening to a podcast on Joe Rogan that was interviewing someone who was talking about gluten and its impact. We were shocked and this car drive changed our entire perspective and opened our eyes to what food can mean to us.

After the drive, we decided to reduce our sugar intake, this would mean avoiding sugar in our coffee, reducing the amount of processed food we bought and looking at the label to acknowledge what had a lot of carbs and sugars. On top of it all, we also bought only gluten free food for about 6 months. We didn’t end up needing to remove gluten from our life, but we did have to reduce sugar and processed food.

Why am I telling you this story and why does it matter?

I am telling you this, because you never really know what can spark a change in your life. For us, it wasn’t a 30 days diet or a trick way to change something. We just heard something that was logical to us and made sense. To this day, I never listened to this podcast again, but the information we took from it was the most valuable to us.

Another event that changed everything was when I had to feed a 6-month-old and I did not want to give her a bunch of crap. I wasn’t ready to provide her with the same food I had as a child, I didn’t want to make a bunch of purees either and I needed to find a good healthy alternative for her.

It can get very overwhelming trying to find the best solution. The opinions vary greatly from scientists, food companies, nutritionists, etc. So who can you trust? The answer should be yourself, who can really say what will work for you and your family? Everything else, unless you were told by your doctor to follow a certain lifestyle, becomes a bit of advice for you to make the best decision.

The goal of this article

My goal is to create an easy guide for everyone to provide you with a sustainable way of eating what will work for you.

If you ask 20 people about the benefits of healthy eating, they will most likely give you their own version. What diet did they follow or failed at? What works for them and what sensitivity to food do they have? My version is also different, but this isn’t about what works for your friends, family or myself. It is finding a way that works for you.

I wanted to write a guide that provides you with information that can be easy to follow. How to listen to your body and what it is telling you. What cues should you know about and what are the benefits of healthy eating?

Everything is getting more and more complicated. How can you make it easier for yourself?

“Always consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet or nutrition program. The use of diet and nutrition to control metabolic disorders and diseases is a very complicated science and is not the purpose of this program. The purpose of this program is to help people reach their fitness goals by educating them in proper nutrition and exercise guidelines.

Expectation from Healthy Eathing

I will provide a resource of information for you to make the best decision. Remember, you don’t have to do everything all at once. One small action can make a world of difference. Increasing your knowledge will help you make your own conclusions about the benefits of healthy eating and how it can apply to your life.

This post will not encourage any diets or any programs to follow. I truly want to provide the information in an easy-to-understand kinda way. Any talks about diet will be for information only.

Vegetables bowl what are the benefits of healthy eating

How to get started with healthy eating?

First and foremost, before changing any patterns and behaviours, you need to know how you are currently eating.

For the next few days, write down everything you eat on a daily basis, including when you get hungry. Don’t include special girls’ night outs, unless that occurs often. Include when you eat and when you get hungry.

This is not calorie counting, the sole purpose is to gather data and information.

Why does Creating a Food Journal Matter?

Understanding what you are currently eating will help determine what you want to improve on.

Some Questions to Answer Afterwards

  • Is there anything in your eating habit you want to change?
  • Is there a lot of processed food, sugar or simple carb?
  • Do you have protein at every meal?
  • How many vegetables are you eating every day?

In this experiment, avoid being judgmental. It is for research purposes and you are the subject. This information will only be used to provide you with your eating patterns and behaviours.

Go on, save this for later, go find out what you do, and come back! I mean it! Just go already!

Quick Advice about Emotional Eating

Do you eat healthy most of the time, but when you can’t control your emotions you have the craziest cravings?

If you do answer yes here, please remember that there is a lot more to being healthy than just eating food. You have to be emotionally healthy. Having a balanced life will help you. I would recommend finding someone to talk to about emotional stress and ways to manage it.

I knew you would be back after completing your food journal!

It’s been a few days and now you have a nice list of food that you are eating, at what time you get hungry, etc. Let’s do some analysis.

Don’t fix what’s working!

In this section, I want you to be honest, and answer these questions. If you like the way you eat or are just not ready to change anything, it’s alright. Come back when you are, no one is forcing you to do something you don’t want to, or at least no one should.

woman with messy hair wondering what are the benefit of healthy eating while eating her cereal

Analysis after your food journal

Answer the following questions.

  • Do you like your current eating habit? If you are happy, close this and move on with your life!
  • If not, or you think it could be better, what would you like to change?
  • What is your main source of food for breakfast over the last few days?
    • Nothing
    • Carbs
    • Protein
    • Fat
    • Coffee
  • Do you get hungry before lunch?
    • If yes, what do you get for a snack?
  • What does your lunch look like?
    • Take out?
    • Leftovers?
    • Nothing?
    • Shake?
    • Sandwich?
  • Do you get hungry before dinner?
    • If yes, what do you get for a snack?
  • What does dinner look like most days?
    • Take out?
    • Heavy Carbs?
    • Balanced?
  • Do you get hungry after dinner?
    • If yes, what do you eat for a snack?

Now that you have answered all of these if you answered yes to most of the snacks and you end up eating carbs and sugar during your day. You can try to add a bit more protein to your day, after a better source of nutrients in the morning will help your body take longer to digest and make you feel full longer.

The most important question will always remain are you happy? If you find your nutrition is lacking or your energy level is down. It’s important to understand what the different types of macronutrients are and how improving them can help you live a better life.

brown nuts on white ceramic bowls what are the benefits of healthy eating with proteins

Macronutrients (Protein, Carb and Fat)

Let’s find out why proteins are important

On average, an adult should have about .8g per kg of body weight. For example, if you weigh about 165lbs, that gives you 75kg approx. You should consume at least 60g of protein.

You can play around with numbers here, some people will be better on higher protein than others, but you have to try. You can go as high as 2 to 3.5g of protein per kg body weight, so that brings our imaginary friend to 150 – 262.5g approx. I know that is a lot of numbers, you just need to find what works for you!

But what is 60g of protein?

This is simply informative. The food you choose will vary in macronutrients and calories

  • 7 slices of bacon = 30g of protein
  • 5 hard-boiled eggs = 31.5g of protein
  • 4 ounces of ground beef = 33g of protein (about 1/2 patty)
  • Whey Protein Powder = 30g of protein
  • 3/4 brick of tofu = 33.7 of protein
  • 4 ounces chicken breast = 29.7g of protein (about 1/2 chicken breast)

You get the idea, for example, 2 eggs in the morning (15.75g) and half a chicken breast salad for lunch (14.85g) and some ground beef for dinner. (16.5g).

Tips to help with cravings

Here is where you can find out what works for you, if you get hungry a few hours after any meal, you are probably lacking protein, your body is asking for it.

If you have intense cravings, unless they are due to emotional stress, you probably need more protein also.

You can try it for a week, just add a bit more. It doesn’t have to be much. Just 1 protein shake gives you a good boost or includes hard-boiled eggs for an afternoon snack.

For further recommendations about protein powder and which one I recommend for all types of diet and nutrition, read my other article here about the best protein powder to use.

Benefits of Protein

  • Reduces Appetite and Hunger Levels
  • Increase Muscle Mass and Strength
  • Good for your Bones
  • Reduce Cravings
  • Boost Metabolism and Increase Fat Burning
  • Lower your Blow Pressure
  • Help Maintain Weight Loss
  • Does Not Harm Healthy Kidney
  • Help your Body Repair Itself

Source from Healthline

bowl of vegetable salads

Simple vs Complex Carb made easy

Simple carbs are anything that is easy to break down in your body and provides no real nutrients. Compare to complex carbs which provide lasting energy.

Simple rules, the best carbohydrates are the ones closest to their natural state. Putting it in basic terms, it’s an ingredient kinda food.

Example of complex carbs

  • Spinach
  • Turnip Greens Lettuce
  • Watercress
  • Zucchini
  • Asparagus
  • Artichokes
  • Okra
  • Cabbage
  • Celery Cucumbers
  • Dill Pickles
  • Radishes
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Whole Barley
  • Buckwheat bread
  • Oat bran bread
  • Oatmeal
  • Oat bran cereal
  • Muesli
  • Wild rice
  • Brown rice
  • Multigrain bread
  • Pinto beans
  • Yogurt
  • Low fat Skim milk
  • Navy beans
  • Cauliflower
  • Grapefruit
  • Apples
  • Plums
  • Strawberries
  • Oranges
  • Yams
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Soybeans
  • Lentils
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Prunes
  • Apricots
  • Dried Pears
  • Buckwheat

You get the idea, must fruits and veggies, mostly green ones, the stuff that looks the least fun for a late snack, is usually the way to go!

Be careful with cereal, bread and oatmeal. Unless they are whole grains and not in a prepackaged format, they usually have a lot of sugar.

For additional information about a scientific approach, read here.

How many carbs do you need every day?

This is where a lot of diets come into play. Some believe that by reducing the number of carbs you will start burning fat and help your body to lose more weight like the ketogenic diet or low carb diet. Others are about reducing the amount of fat and having a higher content of carbs.

This is not about paleo, high carb, low carb or keto. The important part is to find out if your body can tolerate carbs and what works for you.

If you don’t work out much or don’t exert yourself, you might not need as much as you think. On average, for 2000 calories per day, our imaginary friend would need about 225g to 325g. Which is quite a lot.

Are you eating too many carbs?

Here, are some of the signs you might be eating too many carbs. Have you ever felt so tired after a meal, it could be a sign that it was too much protein or carbs.

  • Weight gain
  • Crashing energy
  • Increased sugar cravings
  • Skin breakouts
  • Bloating and constipation
  • High cholesterol
  • Cavities
  • Brain fog

Tips about Carbs

Let’s break this down to be simple. If you are always tired, try to eat fewer carbs and increase your fat and protein intake. If you are always craving a lot of sweets, unless it’s due to emotional stress, try to eat more protein. If you are bloated, maybe evaluate, what are you eating and see if you might have an intolerance or allergy to a certain type of food. Even if your friend does very well on a keto diet, it doesn’t mean it is for you. If you are wondering why you should avoid dieting altogether, read more about the disadvantages of a low-carb diet and why you should avoid it.

The less dramatic your changes will be, the better your body and stress response will be.

Main Benefit of Complex carbohydrates

  • Provide energy
  • Promote digestion
  • Optimize metabolism
  • Improve sleep
  • When fiber is included, it promotes fullness
  • Optimize brain function
  • Reduce stress and anxiety

For additional resources, continue reading here.

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The wonderful world of fat

Fat is a fun one. I know, I just said that. The belief about what you need and don’t has been all over the place. I was told to use no butter, no margarine, no vegetable oil, and no olive oil… I actually found out you aren’t supposed to cook with olive oil. It’s supposed to be for dressing. So what are you supposed to eat and cook with?

Myth about fat

John Hopkins has a fun list of myths. Here are some of them:

  • Fat isn’t needed in your diet
  • Fat raises blood glucose
  • Fat increase body weight

The only thing that increases body weight, unless you have a medical issue is calories. You eat more calories than you burn. If you have 1500 calories, no matter what source it is from it will still be 1500 calories. The difference is, if it is not healthy, it will not provide you with the right source to have energy and can make you tired and provide other issues.

On average you should have about 20% – 35% of your calories coming from fat. if our imaginary friend ate about 2000 calories per day, that would give him 44 – 77g of fat.

But what is 44 – 77g of fat?

  • 1/4 cup of cashew = 25g of fat
  • 3/4 of an avocado = 22.1g of fat
  • 2tbsp of natural peanut butter = 16g of fat
  • 1.5 tbps of olive oil = 21g of fat
  • 2 eggs = 22g of fat
  • 1 chicken breast = 28g
  • 1 ground beef patty = 60g

On average, by eating two eggs in the morning (22g) and a hamburger for dinner (60g) you can easily have over your recommendation of fat.

Do you need to eat more fat?

Some of the signs you don’t have enough fat in your diet are feeling tired, always feeling hungry, joint pain, weak immune system, dry skin, foggy brain etc.

Again, it’s just like the protein, trial and error to see what you can tolerate and what works for you. The calculation is good to get the basics, but in reality, Everyone is different. Your daily life, work, fitness level, age and health will all be variables to consider. Also, the type of fat you choose will make a difference. For example, red meat is a lot harder to digest. Having white meat or fish is better for that.

By adding fish to your diet, you will increase the amount of good fat which will help you be healthier. Find the food you like, find recipes you are excited to try, and discover how you can make your life better.

One small action makes a difference, by avoiding a lot of drastic changes to your lives. It reduces the fight or flight response to your brain and you will be more likely to maintain your healthy lifestyle.

Food shouldn’t be a source of stress, deserts are not evil either. We all have the potential to be healthy and make the best choices for our bodies.

Main benefit of healthy fat

  • Maintain healthy cholesterol levels
  • Promote fat loss
  • Optimize brain functions
  • Decrease liver fat
  • Strengthen the bones
  • Promote sleep
  • Improve skin

For further details, please find the resource below from Harvard’s research.

selective focus photography of vegetables

Benefits of Macronutrients

In our daily life, we require a variation of macronutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

Healthy eating includes some of these resources in each meal. Find a list below of the main reasons why you should be including all macronutrients in your life.

assorted foods

Easy Tips for Eating Healthy

  • If you can’t read the ingredients, is it not natural, just don’t eat it.
  • Avoid processed food (there should only be 3 sections in a grocery store).
    • Veggies and fruits
    • Meat
    • Dairy
    • Avoid the rest, unless you want coffee!
  • If you have a lot of night-time cravings, include more protein during the day, and add a protein shake for morning or afternoon snacks.
  • If your pee is not a nice pale color, drink some water.
  • Get Pinterest and find 20 – 30 mins recipes to do, you have to learn to cook.
  • For dinner, choose your protein first, then veggies, then carbs.
  • Eat protein at every meal.
  • Cereal for breakfast is not the healthiest choice… sorry
  • Leftovers for lunch are always great.
  • If you don’t eat a lot of veggies, green powders are a good alternative.

If you are at the grocery start and wonder if you should choose organic food or not, continue reading here to find out if Organic Food is Better.

How can you be successful when it comes to eating healthy?

As I mentioned earlier, what does healthy eating means to you? What is sustainable for you and your family?

Having a realistic expectation of what you want will help you a lot more than following some diet plans you found somewhere. Finding the joy in cooking and making meals you like will create a better relationship with food.

Easy tips to include healthy eating into your life

Even with children, by including them in the process of cooking, they will enjoy it more in the end. You are their guide and are responsible for having them understand what are the benefits of healthy eating.

  • Can you include a fun cooking, activity with your children?
  • Can you bring healthy treats to work for your coworkers?
  • Find 1 new recipe to make on the weekend
  • Find out how many recipes in under 30 mins you can make with chicken

The possibilities are endless. The only thing stopping you from making that decision is you. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, by being aware and mindful, you can make a difference for yourself and empower yourself to be on your way to becoming the best version of yourself.

Daily easy step to follow

  • Be mindful
  • Eat breakfast, protein first
  • Defrost your meat the night before to avoid going out later because you have no dinner ready. (just use your phone, you are reading this on and set a reminder every day)
  • Make your lunch for work the night before (again, phone reminder here)
  • Bring your snacks, high protein snacks are healthier (cheese, hard-boiled eggs, almonds)
  • Prepare everything the night before if you find your morning is too rushed
  • Avoid eating out during the week, maybe keep it for a special night out
  • Make a quick supper starting with protein (one-pan dinners are great and easy!)
  • Drink water when you wake up and before every meal
  • Have a small desert, if you make yourself feel bad for it you will still do it, just hide or lie about it later

If you still want to have your occasional snacks and be 80% healthy, that’s fine. If you want to lose some weight, reducing the amount of processed food and sugar will help reduce the inflammation in your body and promote your digestive system to not work overtime.

Tips Avoid adding stress to your life

Life is stressful enough, feeling bad because you didn’t follow the diet you are on or you were hungry when you woke up, but you are supposed to be because you are fasting is not healthy.

All these negative thoughts play a bigger role in your mental health, creating negative emotions and a bad relationship with food.

If you want more of a quick go-to guide about the 5 benefits of healthy eating, you can read my other blog post about the 5 benefits of healthy eating.

Common Questions About eating healthy

How much protein should I have

On average, the minimum recommendation is about 0.8g per kg of body weight.
You can go as high as 2g to 3.5g of body weight.

If you are craving a lot of sweets or get hungry after your meal, try adding a bit more protein to your day.

Why is eating healthy important?
By introducing healthy eating into your daily life you will be able to:

– Increase your energy level
– Help you develop and grow to be more healthy
– Boost your immune system
– Strengthen your bones
– Support your muscles

How many vegetables should I be eating?

On average, from a study done by Harvard, it is recommended for a minimum of 5 servings per day.
You can find information about the survey here: Learn More

Can you eat healthy food on a budget?

Yes, by introducing more protein and fat to your diet you will reduce cravings. Eggs are very cheap and a good source of protein By adding more complex carbs, like beans, you can have healthier choices.
The best option is to learn to cook for yourself.

How can I eat healthy in order to lose weight?

To lose weight, in a simple form, you have to eat fewer calories than you burn. By introducing more protein and fat to your diet, you will be less hungry and help your body digest better.
Promoting a healthy way to lose weight in the long term.
Avoid any drastic changes, which will increase your stress levels.

Last things you need to know

There was a lot of information here, if you can take a few things out of this, please drop the diet and find what works for you. Eating should be fun, not a chore, stop counting calories and macronutrients.

Be mindful, you can have snacks, dessert and a night out, you should live your life, but it doesn’t have to be party night every time. If you do notice that you have emotional issues that create binge eating. Please seek help.

If you want to be healthy, trust yourself to make the best decision. Understanding your relationship with food and how it affects your body will help you. You now have a good start on what the benefits of healthy eating are and what your current habits are and what to look for when you are hungry.

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