We each have our own health goals and nutritional needs. Still, as a fresh forty-year-old momma who works full-time and is passionate about feeling my best, I’d love to share the seven healthy eating habits I have adopted that have helped me feel vibrant, lose weight, and minimize inflammation.
We can all agree that “healthy” looks different for each of us. Tons of information is circulating about what healthy should look and feel like, and it is hard to decipher the truths from the myths.
I have struggled with my health for years, from hormonal imbalances to digestive issues, and have learned what healthy eating habits work for me in this busy season.
As a busy momma, I hope you find these seven healthy eating habits helpful. Let this list be a foundation of behaviors where you can choose one or two that align with your health goals and incorporate them into your daily routine.
Why Adopt These 7 Healthy Eating Habits
Behavior becomes a habit when you do that “thing” so often or long enough that it becomes second nature. For instance, when you back out of the garage, you look in your rearview mirror. When you wake up in the morning, you brush your teeth. You rarely have to think about these actions because you have conditioned your mind and body to act.
It is easy to get bogged down in working, running a family, and acting as a full-time chauffeur for your kiddos. However, you must remember your health goals and how to prioritize yourself.
What would happen if you took only 30-60 minutes daily to prioritize your health and well-being? Those minutes would be the catalyst that transforms your health in significant ways.
Reasons to Eat Healthily
Eating healthy has so many positive benefits that go far beyond weight loss. Healthy choices allow you to conquer your day with more energy, clarity, and mindfulness.
Food is fuel and nourishes your body, mind, and soul. When you create healthy habits around food, you no longer give food power. You begin to realize that food is a tool that is meant to satisfy hunger, fuel energy, and positively impact your physical and mental health.
There are many benefits to choosing to eat healthily, such as positively impacting the way you fight disease, inflammation, and infection. Healthy habits result in a positive mood, healthy weight, and longevity.
7 Healthy Eating Habits
1. Intermittent Fasting
A few years ago, I had a complete hysterectomy which sent me into menopause at the age of 36. I quickly experienced weight gain, bloating, and belly fat (among other things) that left me feeling self-conscious and frustrated. I tried everything to lose my “menopause belly,” but nothing worked… until I started incorporating intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting means letting your body and digestive system rest while you refrain from eating for some time. It has many health benefits, which include changing your level of Human Growth Hormone (HCG), improving insulin sensitivity, and aiding in cellular repair.
There are various intermittent fasting methods, but what works best for me is 16:8, which means stopping eating for 16 hours and eating within an 8-hour window over 24 hours. For instance, if you stop eating at 6:00 PM, you would wait 16 hours and eat again at 10:00 AM the following morning.
I incorporate intermittent fasting 3-4 days a week. The more we can let our bodies have 10-12 hours of rest from digestion, the more time our gut and hormones have to heal.
2. Meal Planning and Prepping On-The-Go Options
If you’ve seen me on social media or read previous blog posts, you know I am a huge proponent of meal planning. Both my son and I have struggled with food sensitivities and digestive issues, so planning has become a requirement in our house.
We have a full schedule, with many evenings spent away from home attending kids’ sporting events. We are stuck eating concession snacks or fast food if we don’t plan or prep on-the-go options, and nobody wants that!
I keep it simple and use a meal planning template at the beginning of each month to help map out our family dinners. Reviewing the calendar and meal plan side-by-side allows me to choose meals and recipes that can be prepared beforehand – such as casseroles and crock pot meals, or I use the Instant Pot. (This Instant Pot is amazing!)
I also love to prepare a few meals on Sundays, so I am not scrambling in the evenings after working all day.
Once I plan our family dinners, I am ready to conquer the month. Next, I review breakfast, lunch, and snack options at the start of each week. I give special attention to on-the-go, wholesome foods the boys can take to games or track meets and foods my husband and I can enjoy.
I encourage everyone to give meal planning and prepping a chance. It can be difficult at first, but I have found it to be one of the most impactful things I have done to maintain a healthy weight and provide healthy options for the boys.
3. Food Journaling
Food Journaling is number 3 of my 7 Healthy Eating Habits. Journaling can be intimidating if you have never tracked your foods, but it has been instrumental in my adopting a healthy lifestyle. It has also been vital in maintaining weight loss.
The most beneficial thing I have learned from food tracking is understanding my daily consumption. For instance, I have a better handle on portion sizes, what nutrients each food provides, and how much I need to eat to sustain a healthy weight.
When I first started journaling my foods, I began with a pen and paper. Over time, I moved to an app. There are many free food-tracking apps. My favorite is MyFitnessPal. I have used it for over ten years, and it makes tracking my macros easier.
Food journaling has helped me understand macronutrients and what combination I need for optimal health.
Here is a quick macronutrient overview to help showcase how food journaling can make a difference in what macronutrients you consume. Macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fat.
Carbs include foods like fruit, potatoes, and bread. Proteins include fish, eggs, and meat. Lastly, fats are in nut butter, nuts, seeds, and oils.
We should eat various foods that provide the right macronutrients for our bodies. Macronutrient ratios look different for everyone, but I focus on higher protein levels as a forty-year-old female.
If you want to understand what macronutrients you should consume, this article explains macros in detail.
A food scale and measurements will significantly influence your food journaling success. I purchased this food scale on Amazon. This food scale is small enough to keep on the counter and costs less than $14.
You will quickly realize what a serving size looks like and how much of certain foods you should consume. To say I was shocked is an understatement. My 4 oz burgers were closer to 7 oz, and my serving of peanut butter was way more than a tablespoon.
4. Find Healthy Alternatives
Once you start food journaling, you’ll understand what foods no longer align with your health goals. Finding healthy alternatives can be easier than you think. I quickly realized that I needed to add more protein to my diet. I switched out carb-heavy snacks with protein-rich foods like greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, and meat sticks.
Scan your refrigerator or pantry and see what foods you eat the most. Do they align with your health goals? Are they laden with sugar or ingredients you can’t pronounce? This exercise is the first step in uncovering “non-healthy” foods, where you can begin discovering alternative food options.
We replaced store-bought granola bars with homemade bars or better brands like Made Good. This brand has ingredients I can understand and even sneaks in some vegetables.
I replaced cookies and candies with dark chocolate, fruit, and yogurt. My favorite chips have three ingredients – potatoes, sea salt, and avocado oil.
Depending on your journey and health goals, you can upgrade your foods in numerous ways. I will share some of our healthy food swaps in an upcoming blog post!
5. Drink Lots of Water
Are you hungry or dehydrated? Your body has a hard time deciphering between the two. I have learned that many times my hydration queues are disguised as hunger. If you feel your stomach turning and think it means mealtime, drink 8-10 ounces of water and wait 10 minutes.
We all know the countless benefits of drinking water, but in case you need a refresher. Drinking water is the cheapest and simplest way to improve your overall health. Water flushes bacteria from your body, aids digestion, cushions your joints, and protects your organs. It also aids in weight loss!
Try adding electrolytes, lemons, cucumbers, or berries to your water. Get a super cute water bottle that tracks your water intake throughout the day so you can watch your progress. Lastly, try setting a daily water goal.
A good starting point is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. Remember that you’ll want to add more water for every caffeinated beverage since caffeine can dehydrate.
6. Craving Sugar? Eat Fruit First
Sugar is the bane of my existence, and I constantly struggle with it. From cane sugar to aspartame and every fake sugar in between, I will forever be a work-in-progress with my relationship with sweets.
I have significantly decreased the amount of sugar I eat each day. Even minimizing sugar has made a massive difference in my mood and inflammation and has helped with weight management.
The most significant way I have been able to combat sugar cravings is by replacing my sugary, sweet treats with a naturally sweetened alternative – fruit!
When I crave something sweet, I give myself the option of fruit and usually opt for strawberries or blackberries. After eating fruit, I realize that the craving has either subsided or is no longer there.
I always have fresh, ready-to-eat berries to make it easier to make a healthy choice. Fruit is sweet but naturally sweetened and doesn’t harm your body like sugars and artificial sweeteners.
Read How to Reduce Sugar Cravings if you need more help combating sugar.
7. Focus on What Foods You Can Add – Not Deprivation
This last one on my 7 Healthy Eating Habits list is my all-time favorite. One of the healthiest decisions I ever made was reframing how I look at food and a healthy lifestyle.
For many years I focused on eliminating foods and depriving myself of some of my favorites. But over time, I realized the healthiest relationship with food is not born out of deprivation but instead focusing on abundance.
There are thousands of whole, nutrient-rich foods that I can eat every single day. Foods that nourish my body and positively impact my physical and mental health. But instead of focusing on what I “can’t” have, I now focus on all I can.
There is nothing off-limits. I consciously choose foods that fuel my body and provide the best nutrition for me. Each day looks different, and sometimes my choices include cookies. And that is okay!
Giving yourself grace and allowing yourself to make healthy choices eliminates negative self-talk and self-sabotaging behaviors. Don’t focus on removing foods or restricting yourself; look at the foods you can add to your diet.
How many colors of the rainbow do you eat? What fruits or vegetables have you not eaten in a while or never tried before?
Think about exploring all the nutrient-dense foods you can include in your day. Make it your goal to try a new recipe, fruit, or vegetable each week. When you reprogram your palette, you will be amazed at how often you are pleased with your food choices, which is ultimately the healthiest behavior.
7 Healthy Eating Habits for the Long Haul
Adopting new behaviors until they become a habit isn’t always easy. It takes trial and error and a lot of practice, but over time, you will find that focusing on these seven healthy eating habits will provide many positive benefits you will gladly adopt for the long haul.
Simply choose one or two healthy eating habits you can adopt today. Use a habit tracker and work toward making positive changes to your behavior.
Don’t feel frustrated with yourself if you aren’t quite where you want to be with your eating habits. Remember that behaviors can be challenging to change, especially if they are behaviors that have been around for years.
Focus and determination are required at the beginning of this journey. Be proud of yourself for committing to change. You ARE creating habits today to be healthy and strong tomorrow!
I am a part of the Amazon Affiliate Program. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases when you use the product links throughout this post.