Do you ever feel confused by all the conflicting nutrition advice out there? I get it–it can be so overwhelming! Honestly, the best way to cut through the BS and get lasting results to is to focus on habits–and I’m going to tell you exactly which 7 healthy eating habits to focus on.
These habits are ones that, in my experience as a registered dietitian and trainer, will give you the most bang for your buck without making you crazy in the process. Implement these, and you can stop wasting time researching diets.
7 Healthy Eating Habits for 2023
Where should you spend your time and effort in 2023 if you want to look and feel your best?
Some of these habits focus on eating behaviors, while others will help you to get more (or less) of certain nutrients in the diet.
I suggest picking one from this list that you don’t consistently do but feel you could successfully implement. Work on this habit for at least two weeks, then add another when ready.
Plan Your Meals
Making food decisions on the fly makes it easy to default to convenience food (looking at you, Slim Jims and Taco Bell).
This won’t kill you if you do it now and again, but it’s not good for your health if you find yourself reaching for packaged and processed foods all the time.
Planning your meals makes it much easier to stick to a healthy diet. In fact, this is the number one behavior all of my most successful clients have in common.
Your meal plan doesn’t have to be fancy! I usually stick to the same two breakfasts, lunches, and snacks and then plan four to five dinners per week.
You can do this once a week, monthly, or whatever works for you! Just be sure to do it.
(Not a big fan of meal planning? Would you prefer that I just tell you what to eat? Click here to learn more about our meal planning service at 26).
Eat at Least Five Servings of Vegetables per Day
An estimated 91 percent of Americans don’t eat enough veggies.
And that’s a real shame because eating plenty of vegetables is one of the best ways to stay healthy.
Veggies are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They’re also considered a high-volume food, which means they fill up your belly without breaking the calorie bank.
For optimal health, I tell my clients to aim for at least five servings of vegetables per day.
Not quite there yet? Increasing gradually can make your new habit more likely to stick. Consider adding a serving every couple of weeks until you reach your goal.
Have Some Protein with Every Meal and Snack
If you regularly hit the weights, you may already know that getting enough protein can help you maximize muscle gains.
But getting enough protein is important, even if you’re not a gym rat.
Your protein needs will depend on your weight and your goals (among other factors).
But at a minimum, get some lean protein with every meal and snack.
Good protein sources include chicken breast, fish, shellfish, low-fat dairy, whey protein powder, tofu, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Eat Plenty of Fiber
Fiber is, in my opinion, the most underappreciated nutrient around.
Probably best known for helping you poop, fiber can also lower the odds of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer (as long as you get enough of it!).
Do I have you convinced to eat more fiber yet? Good! But start slooooooowly.
Increasing your fiber intake too quickly can lead to serious belly issues–like bloating, gas, and diarrhea. You’ll be much happier if you build your intake up gradually (and so will the people around you).
Ultimately, you want to work your way up to about 25 grams per day if you’re a lady or 38 grams per day if you’re a guy.
I recommend tracking your meals and snacks in an app for a few days to see how much you’re getting now.
If you fall short, try adding one serving of fiber-rich food (like beans, oats, air-popped popcorn, fruits, and veggies) every few days until you reach your goal.
Wait a few more days to add fibrous foods if you run into any GI issues.
Cutting out packaged foods is a great way to improve your health, but let’s say you can’t (or don’t want to) do that.
Reading the food label is one way to make healthier choices, both in and out of the grocery.
As I shared with Everyday Health earlier this year, you can get all kinds of info from a nutrition facts label.
However, I usually look at these three line items first:
- Serving size, which is the amount of food that’s commonly consumed. This serves as a reference for all nutrient information on the label. If you eat two servings, you’ll need to multiply all nutrient data by two (for example).
- Added sugar is any sugar that doesn’t occur naturally in the food. You’ll want to limit added sugar to 25 grams daily for optimal health (but less is even better).
- Sodium is important to watch if you have a personal or family history of high blood pressure. The recommended daily limit is 2300 milligrams, but again, less is often better.
PS: Be wary of any front-of-package claims, which are often just marketing ploys that might not even be true.
Cut Back on Booze
Drinking less alcohol can help decrease your risk of many chronic health conditions and help you lose weight (if that’s something you want).
So if your holidays are feeling extra festive this year, January is a great time to reduce your alcohol intake.
Depending on the role alcohol plays in your life now, this can be easier said than done. It helps to have a few strategies to keep you on track.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Replace one drink daily with sparkling water, kombucha, or another nonalcoholic option.
- Enlist an accountability buddy.
- Think about why you drink in the first place. If you do it to ease stress, brainstorm other stress-relieving activities. If you do it to be social, invite your friends to work out or do a service project instead of hitting the bars.
- Keep alcohol out of the house.
- Set a weekly limit (say, two to four drinks).
And, of course, seek help if you’re having trouble cutting back. A trained mental health professional can give you the support you need to be successful long-term.
Eat to 8/10 Full
Have you heard of hara hachi bu?
It’s a Japanese phrase that loosely translates to “belly 80 percent full.” And according to some experts, this is one reason why people in parts of Japan live so long.
Eating to an eight out of ten on the fullness scale can lower the odds of obesity and obesity-related disease by keeping you from eating too many calories overall.
Stopping at 80 percent full requires you to eat mindfully, and it takes some practice!
But eating slowly, eating at the table, and putting away devices at mealtime can help you tune into your body and stop before you’re stuffed.
It’s a very worthwhile habit to adopt if you’re trying to lose weight or if you ever have digestive issues (as eating too much can increase discomfort).
So there you have it–my top 7 healthy eating habits for 2023.
If you’re ready to eat healthier in the new year, pick one off the list and work on it for a few weeks.
When you feel ready, add another!
And if you’re overwhelmed with the thought of getting started, I can help.
I’ve created a Healthy New Year group nutrition kickstart, which begins on Monday, January 9th (with an optional prep week beginning January 2nd).
This kickstart will focus on some of the habits I discussed in this post and include a habit-tracking leaderboard for accountability, helpful tips, and more.
Ready to start 2023 on a healthy note? Click here to register.