9 Ways to Learn to Love (or Like) Eating Healthy (2024)

Eating nutritious foodis a pillar of healthy living, yet no matterhow clean your diet is, or how many servings ofleafy greensyou eat a day, there are likely ways you couldimprove your nutrition habits.

The secret is making healthy eating actually enjoyable so you can stick with it long-term as part of your lifestyle.Registered dietitianshelp people do this on a daily basis and share some of their biggest takeaways:

1

ELEVATE VEGGIES BY ROASTING THEM

If vegetables aren’t something you gravitate toward, you might want to experiment with how you cook them. In particular, “roasting vegetablesbrings out their natural sweetness, caramelizes the vegetables and concentrates their flavors,” says Dr.Dana Ellis Hunnes, MPH, RD, a dietitian at Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center. “It’s a little bit like having sun-dried tomatoes as opposed to fresh ones. You get extra flavor which really makes eating healthy fun.”

Tryroasting Brussels sproutsin olive oil with a little salt for a side dish orroasting chickpeasin olive oil with garlic, salt and smoked paprika for a healthy snack, suggestsKristin Kirkpatrick, RD.

2

ADD, DON’T SUBTRACT

“If your goal is to eat healthier and you have a long list ofoff-limits foods, you’re doomed to fail,” saysMelissa Majumdar, RD, metabolic and bariatric coordinator at Emory University Hospital Midtown. As soon as you decide you “can’t” have a certain food, it’ll likely be all you think about. Instead, “byadding foods that have more health benefitsto your day, like fruits, vegetables,beans, nuts andwhole grainsin addition tomore calorie-dense foods you love, eating healthy will be much easier.”

For example, instead of never eating another taco, just think about how you can add some nutritional powerhouses. “Top them with roasted veggies (like cabbage, peppers and onions), fruit salsa, or a side of fruit (mangoes are great for a tropical spin),” suggests Majumdar. You can also “add beans or lentils either as the main protein or to stretch a meat-based protein.”

Another pro tip: Swap the taco shell for a whole wheat tortilla or maketaco bowlswith leafy greens. “Adding on healthy extras to your favorite foods makes them tasty and nutrient-dense — a win-win,” says Majumdar.

3

EAT WHAT YOU WANT

While this may sound like a catch, it’s important to allow yourself to truly enjoy andsavor your meals. Slowing down and practicingmindful eatingcan evenhelp you lose weightwithout giving up your favorite foods. “It works because when we eat what we actually want, we are able tosatisfy the cravingandless likely to overeatwith other foods,” explainsMarjorie Nolan Cohn, RDN, a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics.

If you lovepasta, don’t give it up. “Bemindful of portion sizeand add lots of veggies,lean proteinsuch as shrimp or chicken, and toss it with a little garlic and olive oil,” suggests Keri Gans, RD, author of “The Small Change Diet.”

4

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SPICES

Doing so brightens the flavor of foods and awakens your taste buds, explains Hunnes. “I love addinggingerbutexperiment with various spicesto find out what you like. They can really make a dish come alive,” she says. Others she suggests leaning into: curry spices, garlic andturmeric, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.

READ MORE >10 WAYS TO ADD FLAVOR, NOT CALORIES

5

GROW YOUR OWN FOOD

“There’s something so satisfying and fun about getting to eat fruits and vegetablesyou yourself have grown,” says Hunnes. “Knowing you put the effort in makes it less of a chore to eat healthy and more of a reward.” Start small with something likemicrogreens, which can contain up to five times as many vitamins and phytochemicals as full-grown plants.

6

SEEK OUT FARMERS MARKETS

“Supporting yourlocal farmers and food producersis a win-win,” says Majumdar. You’ll find fresh and unique or specialty items and create a relationship with the growers. Fresh food from farmers markets isoften some of the most nutrient-rich, since it doesn’t have to travel far. Look for new trending ingredients likequarkorground cherries, which can elevate even the simplest meal. “Involve the whole family in your choices and you may even find yourpickiest eateris willing to try something new,” says Majumdar.

7

INVEST IN A NEW COOKING TOOL

Buying a newcooking gadget“can bring some much-needed excitement to your meals,” says Gans. It can also help make healthier homemade versions of your favorite foods. For example, if you’ve been craving fries but would like to avoid extra added fat, try an air fryer, suggests Gans. “You’ll create the perfect, crispy French fry with a lot less fat and calories.”

Other great options includeslow cookers, which can render inexpensive cuts of meat more juicy insoups and stewsandInstant Potsfor deliciousovernight oats,chicken tikka masalaand eventacos.

8

MAKE MEAL PREP A RITUAL

Making meal prep a part of your week you actually look forward to helps you stick with it long-term. Maybe you put on a goodaudiobookorpodcastwhile prepping, orget a loved one involvedas bonding time. You can also make it social by calling a friend or trying the same recipes together virtually over FaceTime, says Gans. “Together you can compare notes on the recipe — It’s like creating your own virtual supper club.”

9

TRY NEW RECIPES

If you’re constantly meal prepping and eating the same foods, it can quickly get boring. The answer: new inspiration, says Gans. “Look up a recipeyou’ve never tried orfollow different nutrition proson Instagram.” Experiment withvarious cuisinesand styles of cooking (i.e.baked,roasted,grilled), which will keep healthy eating flavorful and fun. Check out healthy riffs on tasty dishes with our ever-growingRD-approved recipes.

Unlock an experience that’s like having a dietitian, trainer and coach — right at your fingertips.Go Premiumfor expert guidance and exclusive tools that will help you reach your personal health goals.

9 Ways to Learn to Love (or Like) Eating Healthy (2024)
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