Healthy Eating Habits to Start Now

Six ways to take on healthy eating habits

A Veteran and his family enjoy a healthy mealStaying healthy boils down to your daily habits. There are six simple eating habits you can start that will help you live a healthier life. Choosing one of the healthy habits to work on each month can help you get started. From skipping takeout once a week to picking better snacks, these are small things you can do to create lasting change.

What you eat in a day affects how you feel now and in the future. Good nutrition can help you manage weight, have more energy, and live longer. Healthy diets can include a variety of fruits and veggies, lean proteins, healthy fats, or high fiber carbohydrates. If you’re new to this, it’s easier to focus on developing a set of healthy eating habits with food choices you enjoy, instead of focusing on a list of foods you can’t have.

  1. Variety in your diet: Try experimenting with different foods to get the nutrients your body needs. Some diets may reduce your risk of serious health conditions, such as:

    • Vegetarian diets are high in fiber, which promotes healthy digestion. A high fiber diet can lower your risk of various chronic diseases.

    • Mediterranean diets are low in salt and saturated fat, which helps to lower your risk of heart disease and help with weight management.

    • The DASH diet is low in salt and high in fiber. It may lower your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

  2. Eat at home more often: At home, you can cook healthier meals and save money. Start by planning meal options every week. Meal planning can make grocery shopping easier too. Go to the store with a list of what you need for the week. If you stick to purchasing items on your list, you may spend less money while improving your health.

  3. Cut back on sugar: It's no secret that too much sugar can cause weight gain, but it can also cause tooth decay, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health conditions. One way to limit your sugar intake is by reading and using food labels. You can also:

    • Choose non-sugar sweeteners

    • Choose sugar-free beverages

    • Choose fruit instead of cookies or other high sugar foods

    • Reduce the sugar in recipes by 1/3 or 1/2

  4. Have better snacks at home: It's common to snack more when you are bored. Have healthy snacks on hand that are easy to grab. You will feel more satisfied if they are high in fiber and protein, like Peanut butter banana oat bites or Chocolate banana oat cookies.

  5. Keeping track: If you're concerned that you overeat, try tracking your food intake using My HealtheVet's Food Journal. This tool makes it easier to pay attention to the amount of food you're eating and when. Print it out as part of a Blue Button Report.

  6. Find support for your goals: Do you struggle to stay on pace with your goals? Talk to your family or friends and ask them to help you. Creating a support group is a great way to feel connected while helping each other be healthier.

You may want to talk to your care team using Secure Messaging (sign in required) before changing your diet. It'll take some time to turn these steps into habits but developing healthy practices can help you achieve your goals. With commitment, you'll see some positive changes soon.

Please vote in our unscientific poll. All responses are anonymous.

Read More

Healthy Eating 'To Go'

Food and Hypertension

Learning Healthy Eating Guidelines (Veterans Health Library)

Using the DASH Plan (Veterans Health Library)

Updated July 21, 2022