Basics About Nutrition and Weight Loss

The basics of eating healthy

Healthy Meals Beet Salad
Getty Images/Brett Stevens

Whether you want to get in shape, lose weight or build muscle, nutrition plays a major role in reaching your goal. A healthy diet doesn't just help you lose weight, it keeps your body in top shape for exercise and for your other daily activities.

So, how do you know if your diet is healthy and how do you change it if it isn't? The following steps take you through the basics of creating a healthy diet.

Where to Start With Your Diet

  1. Find out if your diet needs some work: Start with this Healthy Diet Quiz, which will help you figure out if you're getting the recommended amount of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, etc.
  2. Find out how many calories you need each day: Use the women's calorie calculator or men's calorie calculator to get an estimate your daily calorie needs.
  3. Keep track of your eating: Keep a food diary to track your meals and calories. This will give you crucial information to help you figure out changes you might need to make.
  4. Make small changes: Experts know that we do a much better job of making permanent changes when we keep them small and reasonable. For example, if you usually skip breakfast, make it your goal to eat something each morning, even if it's just a glass of orange juice or some yogurt. Skipping breakfast can actually slow your metabolism, which can hurt your weight loss goals.
  1. Add rather than subtract:  If you don't know where to start, start by adding something healthy to your diet rather than taking something away.  For example, drink a glass of water before a meal or add an extra vegetable to your next meal.  Adding something healthy will help fill you up on good stuff so there's less room for the bad stuff.

    More Tips for Better Nutrition

    • Be aware of emotional eating or nibbling out of boredom. Find out what triggers this type of eating and keep yourself busy during those urges to munch.  It helps to keep a food journal here and just note the times when you eat when you're not really hungry.  We often fall into patterns of emotional eating without even realizing it.
    • Stay hydrated: Often a feeling of hunger is actually your body telling you it's thirsty.
    • Eat more fiber: Fiber fills your belly and helps you feel full so you naturally eat less. It's also much easier to add healthy foods to your diet than it is to add more restrictions, which only makes you crave the very foods you're trying to stay away from.
    • If you're starving, eat a healthy snack. When you wait too long, you may end up eating more food to satisfy that gnawing hunger.
    • Prep for the week: One of the easiest ways to avoid the fast food trap is having healthy meals available.  Learn about How to Prep Healthy Meals to Lose Weight so that you always have something handy whenever hunger strikes.

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