If a group of people ask what healthy eating means to them, they will probably always get a different answer.
For some, a healthy diet means eating a quick meal or eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, while for others, they may occasionally enjoy a piece of cake without feeling guilty.
Still, people with certain medical conditions and even food allergies may decide on the concept of healthy eating in their own unique way.
In short, there is no definitive answer to what constitutes healthy eating.
Eating healthy is human, and as a human being, we all have different needs and desires, which inevitably affect our food choices.
Moreover, as you grow and adapt to your changing needs, what a healthy diet can mean for you, even at different stages of your life.
This article discusses the human side of healthy eating, and I will give my own travel tips to make it easier.
Over the past few years, the meaning of healthy eating has changed for me twice.
When I was in college, I followed a healthy diet and did everything in the book. However, my view of food on my plate has changed. Instead of looking at my favorite foods, I began to look only at the ingredients.
Suddenly I began to look at the traditional Costa Rican gallon pint — or rice and beans — complex carbohydrates and plant-based proteins.
Then when I started practicing as a dietitian, the idea that a dietitian should look at me in a certain way or adapt to a particular body type made me believe that a healthy diet means measuring my diet to determine what I eat. As long as my needs are met, I will eat whatever I want.
I have given my body everything it needs to be healthy, but a healthy diet does not go without nutrients. It’s how you feel, and food should be an integral part of our cultural and social life, and eating should be something we enjoy.
Today I have a different approach to a healthy diet. I am very flexible with my diet, and I understand that balance is the key to eating and being happy.
A healthy diet means, most of the time, I have food from all the food groups on my plate without weighing or thinking about plant-based protein or simple and complex carbohydrates.
And that means I don’t have to measure or calculate a bit – I just enjoy everything – sweets, fast food and sweets.
As you can see, finding the balance that worked for me did not happen overnight. On the contrary, my understanding of healthy eating is changing at various stages of my life.
Unless you want to feed your body and listen to what it needs, a healthy diet can make sense for you, because a healthy diet is for everyone.
For me, a healthy diet is about nourishing your body and at the same time being at peace with food. As you mature and your priorities change, your definition of healthy eating may change over time.
Like so many things in life, healthy eating does not always end well.
You may find yourself late for work or too tired to prepare a cooked dinner at home, and that doesn’t mean you don’t have to order an exit and really enjoy it.
If a healthy diet means being flexible with what you eat, you need to learn to adapt to the conditions that often occur.
When I choose food right away, I try to choose the best one I can. Whenever possible I try to order the nearest home-cooked meal or go for a sandwich, salad, or plate.
However, sometimes I wish for some pizza – so I eat and enjoy!
At times like these, I remember seeing the big picture. That is, a healthy diet is not defined by a single meal but by the choices we make every day.
A close friend told me, “Just as a good meal does not make you healthy, you will not get sick of a bad meal.”
When it comes to healthy eating, one meal does not describe your habits – it does make your overall food choices.
When you are a dietitian, many people think that healthy eating comes naturally to you. But we are human beings, and we love sweets and want food just like everyone else.
In my case, one of the biggest problems I faced was giving up a high-carb diet to manage recurrent infections.
Carbohydrates are found in many food groups, including grains, legumes, vegetables, grains, fruits, and dairy products. They are also found in processed foods and sweets.
Experts often classify them according to their fiber content (2):
- Uncooked wheat: They contain naturally occurring fiber
- Refined carbohydrates; They remove their fiber and contain added sugar
Theoretically, I should have avoided refined carbohydrates, some people argue that it is the healthiest thing to do.
However, in practice, I stopped giving up all processed carbohydrates, including whole wheat bread and pasta, alongside wheat vegetables, grains, and dairy products.
So I could only eat a list of carbohydrate-rich foods with fruits, oats, canola and legumes: lentils, beans, chickpeas and edamame.
Some people told me that this transition would not be difficult for me as a dietitian. However, it took me a while to adjust to my new diet, especially when traveling or eating out.
I learned that organization and creativity are key to managing my food needs.
Whatever the reason, changing your eating habits is a challenge for everyone.
As I mentioned above, organization and creativity help me choose the best food choices every day. This is because, as I see it, it is a choice we make every time we eat a healthy diet.
So when I choose food or snacks, I try to make the decision-making process as easy as possible. In this way, I can continue to choose what suits me best.
There are three things I do every day or every week that make it easier for me to eat healthy.
While this may seem like a no-brainer, it is really important to prepare my food for the week.
Cooking can take a long time, but having food that only needs to be heated and served allows me to get nutritious food in minutes.
One of my pre-preparation tips is to cook the proteins in batches — usually chicken or other lean meats — that I can share and refrigerate for more than a week and refrigerate as I wish.
I make sure to prepare vegetables for the week. That way, I don’t think twice before eating a salad or cooking with each vegetable.
I try to prepare them in different ways so that they do not get bored and choose not to eat them.
For example, in the case of carrots or zucchini, I cut, chop, chop, or chop, all of which helps me to incorporate them into my diet.
Place the fruit in the palm of your hand
Making my fruit visible reminds me to eat fruit every day.
Studies show that fruits, whether sweet or savory, are more likely to be eaten than any food you eat nearby (2,
I apply this principle every day and prefer to have my fruit on the table and snacks and desserts.
Follow daily activities
Although I don’t officially plan the weekly menu, I do have a set of recipes to stick to each meal.
For example, my breakfast choices usually include:
- A native of Costa Rica, the Gastto Pinto and Eggs
- Toast with peanut butter and egg side
- Oatmeal with fruit
- Oatmeal pancakes
Without thinking too much, I choose at least three different options for the rest of my diet and snacks.
Having a set of preservatives that I know will save me time to decide what to eat, and will allow me to change my diet based on whether I want something sweet or salty.
It is very convenient to buy groceries because you already know what is on each food.
Preparing food, keeping my fruit within reach, and following daily activities are three things I do to keep you healthy.
We are all constantly growing and adapting to change, and so is our concept of healthy eating.
Here I have shared with you how my healthy eating habits have changed over the years, the biggest challenge in my healthy eating journey, and how to make a healthy diet easier.
However, my path is definitely not the “right way” – or the only way – to eat healthy. It only works for me, and it may or may not work for you.
Eating healthy is human, and it seems different to each of us. Think about what you can do in your daily routine to set yourself up for success with a healthy diet.
If you are unsure of where to start, consider working with a registered dietitian as they can help you find a sustainable, nutritious diet plan that works for your specific needs and lifestyle.