How to Eat Healthy: A Beginner’s Guide

Megan Segura
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Making the decision to eat healthy is the easy part, but it’s what comes after that can be a little more difficult. All you have to do is walk into a grocery store to become overwhelmed with all the food choices out there, not the mention the array of crazy diets being endorsed by celebrities. We reached out to nutritionist Christine Avanti to give us the basics on how to eat healthy.

Say Goodbye to “Fake” Foods
If there’s one type of food that should be dropped completely from your diet, it’s processed foods, says Avanti. “In my book Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food, I talk about Real Food vs. Fake food. When I refer to fake food, I am talking about processed food. Factory foods are processed in a way that diminishes the nutritional value of the basic ingredients, adds calories from fats and sugars, and disguises the loss of taste and texture with salt, artificial colors and flavors, and other additives.”

So how can you tell if something is processed or not? Look at the ingredients listed on the back. There should be no more than five ingredients.

Say Hello to “Real” Foods
So what foods should be added to your diet? Real foods like veggies and fruits that aren’t packaged. “Real food is high in antioxidants which fight free radical damage,” says Avanti. “Free radicals are the villains behind aging because they break down cells and slow cell rejuvenation. Avoiding fake factory foods (packaged foods) and consuming a diet of real foods means you are loaded up on essential vitamins and minerals—such as vitamin C—which the body requires to produce collagen.”

Ingredients to Stay Away from
When shopping for food, stay away from added sugars, refined carbs (like white flour), and high-fructose corn syrup.  You also want to stray away from processed polyunsaturated oils, hydrogenated vegetable oils and trans fats. When you want to indulge in carbs, stick to 100% whole wheat and whole grain.

Don’t Rely On Shortcuts
We’re all looking for that magic pill or diet that will take away the chore of having to eat healthy, so we can do what we really want, which is stuff our faces with pizza and Oreos. It seems the latest shortcut has come in the form of juicing. Avanti says, “Strict juicing as a meal replacement is not a good idea, because it omits essential nutrients such as protein. Juicing also removes fiber. Without fiber, protein or healthy fats in a meal, blood sugar levels rise rapidly, and this causes fat storage and leaves your hungry.”

So while an occasional juice here or there isn’t the worst, don’t let it take the place of a healthy meal. You can also try adding Aloha’s The Daily Good ($75, green powder to water or smoothies on days when you aren’t getting in all your veggies.

Read more: 5 Processed Foods That Are Messing with Your Looks