Healthy Eating Ultimate Guide! Start Eating Healthy Without Being Miserable

So you want to start eating healthy…

Amazing!

We’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people like you transform into the best versions of themselves, and we focus on proper nutrition to do so. 

Plus, we use fun LEGO photos and gifs to keep you entertained.

In this Ultimate Guide, we’ll cover everything you need to start eating healthy today. These are the exact strategies we teach our 1-on-1 Online Coaching clients, and I’m excited to share them with you:

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about healthy eating, but if you’re looking for virtual hands-on guidance on how to start eating healthy, I got you covered! 

Our online coaching program might be the PERFECT fit for you!

http://www.nerdfitness.com/




The Truth About Healthy Eating

What foods make up a healthy diet?

It’s really easy to tell people the following advice: 

“To lose weight, just eat more REAL food.”

“Just eat less fast food and junk food.”

“Try to eat more organic vegetables watered by unicorn tears, farm-to-table meals served by centaurs, and kale omletes made with eggs from chickens that you raised since birth.”  

Okay so maybe people don’t say the last one. 

But it’s not far from what healthy people say to people who can’t seem to get healthy.

In my opinion, these positions are completely out of touch with reality and it makes me plum dog mad.

No one likes being told "just eat better."

For starters, fast food is crazy delicious and dirt cheap, and often the only way that many busy parents can feed themselves and their kids[1].

Next, applying morality and guilt to food consumption (“I’m being ‘so bad’ by eating this cookie”) creates an emotional rollercoaster – my least favorite kind of roller coaster.

Diet and proper eating can have its ups and downs.

I mean come on, we don’t need to be told that freshly grown fruits and veggies are better for us than junk food.

We don’t need to be told that organic grilled chicken and kale salad is healthier than a Double Whopper with Cheese.

Snape knows he should eat veggies to be healthy. But HOW DO YOU DO IT!

We all know this! 

So rather than “trying harder” to eat healthier we’re going to use things like “science” and “human psychology” and “excessive quotation marks.” 

Cool?

Here’s what you need to know: If you’re just trying to be healthier and maybe lose some weight, there’s no need to start funneling kale smoothies, mainlining chicken and broccoli, and abandoning your loyalty to the Burger King.

You can still enjoy BK and eat healthy...if that's your thing.

You can lose weight and be healthy while still eating these foods occasionally. 

Heck, people have lost weight by eating Twinkies[2] and drinking soda and eating at McDonald’s 3 times per day[3].

I share this info not to promote those foods, but rather make a big point:

If you are terrified of giving up all “junk food”…

You do not need to give up fast food if it brings you joy.

You do not need to feel shame for eating ice cream. 

You don’t need to use terms like “cheat meal” or “guilty pleasure” when talking about a chocolate chip cookie.

Food isn’t good or evil, my dear friend! 

It’s just food! 

Let’s bring it all together:

If we have certain health goals, we can give ourselves the best chance of success by getting strategic about what foods we say “YES” to, and what foods we say “SOMETIMES” to. 

These YES foods give us more energy and have fewer calories on average than “junk food,” which means we’re likely to eat fewer total calories without realizing it.

And thus, we end up with the Triforce of Awesome:

  • A longer lifespan.
  • A smaller waistline.
  • A happier, healthier existence.

Healthy eating can help you be awesome in multiple ways.

So what are these magical foods we’re talking about?

I thought you’d never ask.

What is Healthy Eating?

IS this egg part of a healthy diet? Let's find out!

Removing all the morality and science of food, let’s talk about a realistic definition of “healthy food”:

“Foods I can eat frequently that give me enough fuel to get through the day AND don’t make me miserable.”

Most doctors, websites, and books have generally the same list of “healthy foods”:

  • Protein like meat and legumes. 
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Healthy carbohydrates like rice, quinoa.
  • Healthy fats like almonds and olive oil.
  • Occasional cheese and dairy.

(A more complete list of healthy foods is below). 

Why is it that these are the foods that happen to end up on every list on every website when it comes to “healthy eating?” 

Why do all sites advise more of less the same foods for a healthy diet?

Simple.

They are full of vitamins and nutrients while also being lower in calories than the processed foods that have been designed to be overeaten[4].

They also fill us up, making us feel satiated, and keep us under our calorie total for the day[5]

Now you’re starting to get it:

If we can prioritize these foods on our plate even occasionally, we’ll feel full more often while eating fewer calories… 

Which leads to sustainable weight loss and maintenance

This man is stoked he gets to lose weight sustainably through healthy eating...and punching his enemies.

Let me drive this point about calories vs energy into your brain (not literally). 

Here are 4 foods in the exact same quantity, 200 calories (courtesy of wiseGEEK):

2/3 of a bagel is 200 calories.This handful of pasta is 200 calories.

 

 

 

 

This handful of turkey is 200 calories.

This plate full of apples is 200 calories.

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s a huge plate of broccoli, also 200 calories:

A pic of 200 calories of broccoli

In this context, the realization that we might overeat certain foods compared to others starts to become more clear:

  • If we accidentally overeat broccoli, we might eat an extra 20 calories. And who accidentally overeats broccoli?
  • If we accidentally overeat spaghetti, we might eat an extra 500-1000 calories. 
  • If we accidentally eat a family-sized bag of Sour Patch Kids, we might eat an extra 2000 calories (and have no tastebuds left on your tongue)[6].

Which brings me to the next point: 

We humans are terrible at estimating how many calories we eat[7]. Like, really really bad at it. I bet the proportions of the above foods surprised you. 

We consistently eat much more than we realize, by 40%+.

To make matters worse, we also OVERestimate how many calories we burn through exercise. 

One study showed that Fitness trackers like AppleWatch or Fitbit overestimate exergy burned through exercise by 20% or more[8]

Our Fitbit trackers might not be super accurate when reporting calories burned. Take this into account when referencing your calorie needs.

So when we “can’t lose weight,” it’s not because we have a broken metabolism. 

It’s not because we have bad genetics[9].

Or that we’re not eating for our blood type.

It’s because we consistently eat too much food without realizing it.

Deadpool tries to match his calorie goals...when not saving the world and whatnot.

Because we always have a ready supply of new energy from recently eaten food, more than we need, our body NEVER has to dip into our stored fat to burn for fuel. 

And when we think we’ve out-exercised our bad diet, we really haven’t.

So it’s time to stop “trying harder” and instead “try differently”:

In order for us to get healthy, we need to find ways to include more foods that fill us up AND taste good.

Luckily, I have that list riiiiight here!

How to Start Eating Healthy (Healthy Food List)

If your meal plate looks like this, you're doing great!

There are three big macronutrients that we’re going to focus on as we build our plate like the image above:

  • Protein: building blocks for our muscles.
  • Carbohydrates: our bodies will burn as fuel. 
  • Fats: can be burned as fuel, and also helps with nutrition absorption!

#1) PROTEIN: Priority Numero Uno. 

Protein is amazing. 

Your body uses protein to rebuild your muscles and keep you strong, especially if you are exercising or strength training regularly. 

Protein is both good for you AND satiating without being a calorie bomb. 

Protein can come from any number of sources, including:

  • Meat (steak, bison, pork).
  • Fowl (chicken, duck).
  • Eggs![10]
  • Fish and shellfish (salmon, tuna, shrimp).
  • Legumes (black beans, chickpeas).

Not a meat-eater? Read our massive plant-based guide!

A serving of protein is about the size and thickness of your palm.

A serving of protein should be about the size of your palm, like so.

When building a plate, aim for the following amount of protein:

  • Dudes: 1-2 servings (6-8 oz): two palms
  • Dudettes: 1 serving (3-4 oz): 1 palm.

If you’re curious, here’s how much protein is in a serving of food:

  • 4 oz serving of chicken has around 30 g of protein.
  • 4 oz serving of salmon has 23 g of protein
  • 4 oz of steak has 28 g of protein. 

As we cover in our “how much protein should I eat per day?” you can target anywhere from 80% to 100% of your bodyweight in pounds per gram of protein, with an upper limit of 250g[11]:

  • If you weigh 150 pounds, target 120-150g of protein.
  • If you weigh 200 pounds, target 160-200g of protein.
  • If you weigh 250 pounds, target 200-250g of protein.
  • If you weigh more than 250 pounds, target 250g of protein.

#2: VEGETABLES: The difference-maker when it comes to healthy eating and weight management.

Vegetables are the key to healthy eating.

They are nutrient-dense: full of all the good nutrients that your body can use to function at optimal performance. 

Next, they are energy-dense but calorie-light, which means you can eat lots of them, you’ll feel full, but you’re unlikely to over-consume calories.

A serving of veggies is about the size of your fist.

A serving of veggies should be the size of your first (or greater).

Remember this is what just 200 calories of broccoli looks like (holy crap). This is at least 5 full servings:

A pic of 200 calories of broccoli

Here’s a quick, non-complete list of veggies that can fill your plate:

  • Broccoli
  • Broccolini
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Spaghetti squash[12]
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Onion
  • Asparagus

Target 2 servings of vegetables on your plate – it should take up ½ the plate! 

“But Steve, I don’t like vegetables…yet!” 

That’s cool, I didn’t eat vegetables until I was 22. Now, they’re a main staple of every meal I eat. 

If this is you, read our guide on “how to make vegetables taste good.”

To recap portion sizes of protein and vegetables:

Reminding you the serving size of protein and veggies.

#3) HEALTHY CARBOHYDRATES: Fuel and fiber! 

These are the foods that can be an important part of a diet, provided you eat them in the right quantities for your goals. 

These foods are also great to consume right after a strenuous strength training workout to help your muscles and liver refill their glycogen stores (their energy tanks[13], essentially). 

Examples of healthy carbohydrates:

  • Rice, brown or white
  • Legumes, lentils
  • Quinoa
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yams
  • Pasta
  • Whole grain bread.

This is a list of REAL food, minimally processed, that also have plenty of fiber[14]

If you’re wondering how fruit factors into this equation, that’s the next section.

Back to healthy carbs: when consumed in proper proportion, these are great foods that can help you feel full and give you energy and all that jazz. 

Just make sure you know what an actual portion of these foods are! 

EVERYBODY accidentally overeats carbohydrate-heavy foods, even healthy ones, and then wonders why they aren’t losing weight.

To help you get better at eyeballing serving sizes:

Carbs should fit in two hands if cooked, one hand if not.

1 serving of a starchy carbohydrate is 1 cupped hand (uncooked), or your two hands forming a cup (cooked). 

Here are some images to help you learn proper portion sizes (thanks to SafeFood):

This pic will give you an idea of how carbs should fit on your plate, so you can start eating healthy!

#4) HEALTHY FATS: No longer the enemy!

Fat had a bad rep in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, but now things are swinging wayyyyy back in the other direction.

In some circles, fat is now considered the healthiest thing on the planet, will do your taxes for you, and is considered a superfood.

Let’s get to the truth:

Fat is neither a superfood nor evil. 

Fat can be part of a healthy diet, and is not evil, to the frustration of Dr. Evil.

It’s just a macronutrient that you can eat that can help you reach your goals in the right quantity, or keep you from your goals if it’s overconsumed.

When your doctor tells you to eat more healthy fats, she’s referring to polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats[15].

Healthy fat can be found in foods like:

  • Avocado 
  • Almonds 
  • Walnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Almond butter 
  • Peanut butter

Now, science has recently come around on saturated fat too[16] – once completely vilified, but now cautiously considered okay for moderate consumption. 

Saturated fats can come from things like:

  • Whole milk
  • Full fat dairy
  • Coconut oil
  • Grass-fed butter
  • Lard
  • Fatty cuts of meat

Fat can be good for you provided you’re eating the right quantity for your goals. 

However, like carbs, fats can be overconsumed accidentally too. 

To help you gage: a serving size of fat is roughly the size of your thumb!

A serving of fat should be about your thumb!

THIS is a single serving of almonds (162 calories):

Knowing the correct amount of almonds to eat can help you with your calorie goals.

THIS is a serving of olive oil (119 calories):

This shows the serving size of olive oil, which is very dense calorie wise.

As you can see, if you’re not careful – you can accidentally eat an extra 500 calories of “healthy fats” by absentmindedly eating too many “heart-healthy” fats. 

Many folks in our Coaching Program had us analyze why they weren’t losing weight, even though they “only ate grilled chicken and veggies.” 

When we dug into it, they had been preparing all of their food in an extra 500-600 calories worth of olive oil they weren’t accounting for. 

Homer just realized he eats too much olive oil.

To recap fats and starchy carbs: feel free to include a starchy portion to your plate in the form of rice, potatoes, pasta, legumes, and healthy fats can help spice up a meal too. 

Remember these are your servings of carbs and fat!

I realize that was a CRAZY amount of info, so let’s put it all on the same Healthy Plate:

If your meal plate looks like this, you're doing great!

  • 1-2 servings of protein (¼ of plate)
  • 2 servings of vegetables (½ of plate)
  • 1 serving potatoes, rice, or pasta. (1/4th of plate)
  • 1 serving of fat (size of your thumb)
  • 1 zero calorie or low calorie beverage (water, diet soda, tea)

I know that not all of your meals are going to be perfectly segmented like a bento box. For example: 

  • A fatty cut of meat like chicken thighs means your fat and protein are commingling. Cool.
  • Lentils and legumes means your protein and your carbs are attached at the hip. Swell.
  • A burrito bowl with chicken, rice, guacamole, and cheese means all of your macros are cohabitating. Neato!
  • Salmon cooked in olive oil and coated in almond flakes means your fat and protein have fused. Stupendous!

This plate and serving size stuff above is just to help you get started thinking about healthy food differently and in proper portion sizes:

  • Trying to lose weight? Reduce your portions of carbs and fats.
  • Trying to gain weight? Increase your portions of carbs and fats! 

Remember, all calories count

I can already understand your next series of questions:

  • “What about beverages?” Simple. Liquid calories count too. So stick to low or zero calorie drinks like water, tea, coffee, and diet soda. 
  • “How about condiments?” Grilled chicken slathered in 1000 calories of buffalo sauce means you’re still eating a calorie bomb!
  • “But what about things like Paleo or Keto? I thought low carb = healthy?” I address that in the “which diet is right for me?” section. Keep reading.

What’s the Deal with Fruit? Is Fruit Healthy?

Yes, fruit can be healthy, as this LEGO has figured out by cutting into it.

As we lay out in our “Is Fruit Healthy?” Guide, fruit is absolutely healthy and can help you reach your goals – in the right quantities. 

Fruits are full of nutrients, packed with fiber, and can make for a great snack or part of a protein-focused breakfast!

Watermelon can be part of a healthy diet. Just maybe don't eat the kind that dances.

Personally, I blend up frozen mixed berries in my post-workout smoothie.

Just remember that fruit, like every other food, obeys the laws of thermodynamics.

So, simply be aware of the calories (and carb and fiber content if you’re following a lower carb diet):

  • Apple: 95 cal, 25g carbs, 4.4g fiber. 
  • Banana: 105 cal, 27g carbs, 3.1g fiber. 
  • Orange: 45 cal, 11g carbs, 2.3g fiber. 
  • Pear: 100 cal, 28g carbs, 3g fiber. 
  • Peach: 59 cal, 14g carbs, 2.3g fiber. 
  • Strawberries (1 cup): 47 cal, 11g carbs, 3g fiber. 
  • Pineapple (1 cup): 82 cal, 22g carbs, 2.3g fiber. 
  • Grapes (1 cup): 62 cal, 16g carbs, 0.8g fiber. 
  • Raspberries (1 cup): 65 cal, 15g carbs, 8 fiber. 

Fruit is a better, healthier alternative to nutrient-empty food from a vending machine.

Fruit is healthier than what you'll find in a vending machine, plus you'll lower your chance of getting stuck in one.

Where fruit can get you in trouble is if you start to move in the direction of “fruit-like”:

#1) Fruit juices (cranberry juice, orange juice, grape juice): these are high calorie, sugar-filled beverages. 

For example, here are the calories in one 8 oz [17] serving of: 

  • Apple Juice: 103 calories, 22 g of sugar
  • Orange Juice: 103 calories, 18 g of sugar
  • Grape Juice: 136 calories, 32 g of sugar

#2) Dried fruit: notoriously easy to overeat because they are so small. Since the water has been taken out, all that’s left is the sugar and fiber. 

Here’s 1 serving of raisins, which is 108 calories and 21 g of sugar:

Since the water is taken out, raisins have a lot of sugar and calories.

If you are saying “oh man, I eat 5x that many raisins when I eat them…” then multiply those calorie and sugar numbers by 5!

3) Fruit Smoothies: Just because it’s a fruit smoothie doesn’t mean it won’t make you fat! Have you seen the calorie count and sugar content of smoothies and ‘green drinks’? Yikes.

  • Green Machine Naked Juice (15.2 oz bottle): 270 calories, 53 g of sugar.
  • Smoothie King Banana Boat (20 oz smoothie): 450 calories, 70 g of sugar.

A man realizing how much sugar is in his drink.

To recap: fruit is healthy, provided you stick to fresh or frozen and not fruit-like food, dried fruit, or canned fruit packed in syrup. 

If you enjoy a small glass of orange juice occasionally, or you pack a serving of raisins in your lunch and it makes life worth living, by all means! 

Just don’t chug OJ by the gallon, drink a 64 oz “real fruit smoothie,” and eat raisins by the handful and then wonder why you’re not losing weight.

Are Cheese and Dairy healthy?

Is cheese and dairy part of a healthy diet? This LEGO is clearly skeptical.

We get questions about these two types of food frequently. 

Let me start by saying I’m assuming you’re not doing Paleo (which says “NO dairy and NO cheese”), or plant-based (which says NO to all animal products).

I’ll also assume you’re not doing Keto, which almost requires you to load up on dairy and cheese to eat enough fat every day! 

Let’s pretend you’re just curious if cheese and/or dairy can be consumed on a “healthy diet:”:

YES, you can still eat cheese and be healthy.

YES, you can still eat dairy and be healthy.

And there was much rejoicing:

Yes, both dairy and cheese can be part of a healthy diet. Rejoice!

Like the healthy carbs and fats listed above, it all comes down to your calories consumed in a day, and if these foods fit into your daily calorie goals:

  1. Want to put cheese on top of your salad of chicken and vegetables? Great! 
  2. Want to eat greek yogurt, a scoop of protein powder, and frozen berries for your breakfast? Amazing! 
  3. Want to eat a bowl of cereal with skim milk (or whole milk) in the morning with your kid before school? No problem.

This is true for higher-fat cheeses or full-fat dairy too – the food just needs to fit into your goals! 

Luckily, all dairy comes labeled, and most cheese will come with a nutrition label on it too. 

Just make sure your portions are in line. For reference, here are four different servings of cheddar cheese (about 113 calories a serving):

A serving of cheddar cheese is about 113 calories.

And here’s a serving of greek yogurt (100 calories in 170 grams):

a cup of greek yogurt is about 100 calories,

And although nobody in the history of the world has ever eaten an actual serving…here is a serving of ice cream:

A serving of ice cream is about the size of a tennis ball, cleverly shown here.

(A scoop of ice cream the size of a tennis ball is about 127 calories, cleverly shown above.)

So, dairy and cheese are both perfectly acceptable health food options! Just make sure they fit into your goals. 

If you are NOT losing weight, and you consume a lot of dairy and/or cheese, consider measuring your intake and see if it’s in line with your expectations! 

What’s the best diet for me? Keto vs Paleo vs Plant-based.

Yoda knows a lot about healthy eating (and fixing R2)

“Low fat diets? Low carb diets? No carb diets? I don’t know which one is the BEST diet!” 

“Help me, Steve Kamb, you’re my only hope.”

Okay, you’re probably not saying that, but it’s an excuse to pay homage to Star Wars so I can use the great photo above.

You probably do have questions though about what’s healthier, a low fat diet or a low carb diet.

Low carb diets are all the rage right now, but are they healthy and will they help you lose weight? 

Will a low carb diet help you lose weight? Maybe!

Maybe.

It depends on how your body regulates glucose (blood sugar)[18]:

Some who don’t regulate glucose well do better on a lower carb diet.

Others who do regulate glucose well might do better on a lower fat diet. 

Studies show that people who follow EITHER a low fat OR a low carb diet will still lose weight, as long as they are in caloric restriction and can adhere to the diet for at least a year[19].

So, it comes down to: “which diet are you more likely to stick with for a year or longer?”

I personally lost 22 pounds over 6 months on a lower fat diet (and eating plenty of carbs), but everybody is different.

This means you’ll need to experiment and see which is better for your lifestyle, and your day to day well-being.

Experiment with different kinds of diet until you find one that works for you!

But I bet you have questions about the big popular diets too. 

I’ve written a huge guide that covers all popular weight loss diets together, but we’ve also written individual ultimate guides that cover:

Let’s look at each of these diets and explain why they will help you lose weight, at least temporarily:

Truth #1:  Every diet works in the short term.

Truth #2: Nearly every diet fails in the long term.

Let’s address these two truths individually: 

Why does every diet work in the short term

Why DO diets work in the short term? This ape wants to know so he can eat healthy.

All the diets above have a clever way of restricting calories without you needing to count calories, which leads to weight loss: 

  • Paleo Diet: eliminate everything but veggies, meat, fruit, and nuts. 
  • Intermittent Fasting: skip an entire meal!
  • Keto Diet: remove an entire macronutrient from your diet (carbs).
  • Military Diet: Only eat specific foods in certain quantities.
  • Plant-based Diet: Only eat vegetables and foods from plants.
  • Carnivore Diet: Only eat meat! Eliminate everything else. 

Of course there are plenty of benefits from following certain diets for certain groups of people. For example, Larry went Keto and it helped him reduce inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis. 

However, 99% of the reason why these diets result in short term weight loss is because they get us to eat fewer calories! 

The problems arise when we get to Truth 2: 

“Nearly every diet fails in the long term.”

Put another way: 

Temporary changes create temporary results. 

If somebody “goes Keto” for 60 days, they’ll most likely lose weight, and might even feel better! This is cool. 

BUT! 

(There’s always a but…)

If they spend those 60 days in misery, dreaming of carbs, counting down the meals until they can “go back to eating like normal,” they will put all of the weight back.

The weight loss you obtain through diet will only stick as long as you stay on that diet.

In order for restrictive diets to create permanent results for somebody, they need to be adopted PERMANENTLY! 

For most of us mere mortals, we can’t stick with a restrictive diet for 30 days, let alone a year or a decade. 

For these reasons, I strongly advise you to change how you think about dieting.

You need to determine how likely you are to stick with a restrictive diet permanently:

  1. How averse are you to change?
  2. How likely are you to stick with your changes?
  3. Have you tried a restrictive diet in the past and failed?
  4. Do you have a healthy relationship with food?
  5. Do you have an “All or nothing?” mindset?

Like playing a video game, you need to determine what level of difficulty you are willing to attempt. 

Playing on “Ultra Hard Difficulty” (like Keto) gives you less room for error, but it can also produce impressive results quickly – if you don’t rage quit.

And 99% of people rage quit restrictive diets like Keto.

So what’s the best diet for you? 

I’ll give you the same answer that I give people when they ask me, “What’s the best workout plan?”: 

The best diet is the one that helps you reach your goals, that you ENJOY, and that you’ll actually stick with permanently!

Personally, I don’t follow any sort of restrictive diet

I’m a big fan of small changes that eventually produce big results, like my boy Optimus Prime:

Optimus Prime wants you to eat healthy.

This is why I’ve SLOWWWWLY adjusted my diet over the past decade, so that no change was too drastic and I could stick with it permanently.

It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle change. Permanently.

And that’s what I would recommend for you: 

Small, non-scary, permanent changes over a long time period! 

You need to start thinking in terms of “days and years,” not “weeks and months:”

How to Grocery Shop, Cook and Meal Prep!

Marge knows how to buy food to eat healthy, Yoda is just here for moral support.

Okay! Now that you’ve determined your healthy eating strategy, it’s time to take action. 

There are three big steps you’ll want to master if this is your path: 

Step #1: Grocery Shopping! You can read our full guide on “How to grocery shop”, and we even have a video that keeps things fun too:

Here’s how to grocery shop like a pro:

  • Stick mostly to the outer rim. This means you’re mostly buying meat, fruit, and veggies[20].
  • Read the nutrition label! Just because it says it’s healthy on the front doesn’t mean it is. Read the nutrition label and learn portion sizes. This can help keep you below your daily calorie goal. 
  • Don’t shop hungry! Seems silly, but you end up buying way more junk food accidentally if you shop while hangry (a mix of hungry-angry, never a great emotion).
  • Make a list. Before you go grocery shopping, write down everything you should get. You can even put “non-healthy” food items on the list. But then you can only buy what’s on your list! This means no candy in the check-out aisle. Or because Oreos are on sale! Plan ahead. Stick to the script, sister.

Step #2: Learn to cook!

Once you get cooking you'll feel like the Swedish Chef.

In the next section we share recipes for basic healthy meals that you can cook at home. 

Here’s why cooking at home is amazing: 

  1. You know all of the ingredients. When you eat at restaurants or pick up fast food, there are often hidden calories in the cooking oils and sauces that are sabotaging your healthy efforts. Because of this, it’s really hard to have an idea of how many calories you’re consuming. When you prepare food at home, you know what you’re getting.
  2. You can recreate healthier versions of your favorite foods. Making homemade tacos or pizza with homemade dough can be a great date-night experience, makes your stomach happy, AND can help you reach your goals!
  3. You save money. If your budget is tight, grocery shopping and cooking your own meals is a great way to balance your budget and free up some cash! Our most successful coaching clients work with their coaches on building the habit of cooking at home.

Now, if you’re somebody who only ever uses your kitchen to heat up microwave meals, that’s no problem. 

You can get by eating healthy with just a microwave!

Here are the guides you should check out: 

Step #3 (BONUS): Meal Prep and Batch Cooking!  This step isn’t necessary, but if your goal is to make healthy eating a habit for you and your family, batch cooking can be the difference maker! 

By “batch cooking,” I simply mean setting aside time to prepare larger quantities of food at the start of the week, so that throughout the week you already have meals to eat!  

Personally, batch cooking changed my life.

Batch cooking can change your life, as this sheep knows!

And every single success story we’ve featured on Nerd Fitness (like this one) involved some sort of batch cooking (planning your meals for the week ahead). 

Follow these rules, and you will crush it in the Healthy Eating Department[21]!

12 Healthy Eating Meals You Can Cook Today

This LEGO is making a tasty meal of fish and veggies, so he can eat healthy.

“Okay Steve, you have me convinced I should be eating more healthy foods. But I am a nerd and I need specific instructions to follow!”

I got you. 

As a kid raised on LEGO and K’nex, I am the exact same way! 

Clearly we love LEGOs here at Nerd Fitness

Here are options to get the ball rolling on healthy breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners. Use these as inspiration or starting points for your meal planning! 

3 BREAKFASTS (Unless you do Intermittent fasting!)

Breakfast 1: Prosciutto-Wrapped Mini Frittata Muffins (4 muffins)

A Frittata like so can make a great healthy breakfast.

    • Calories: 440
    • Protein: 32g
    • Fat: 24g
    • Carbs: 16g

Breakfast 2: Kale Breakfast Salad (1/4 of recipe)

Who says you can't have salad for breakfast?

    • Calories: 331
    • Protein: 15g
    • Fat: 12g
    • Carbs: 14g

Breakfast 3: Breakfast Meal Prep Bowls (1 bowl)

If you do a little prep work, you can have a tasty breakfast for every day of the week!

    • Calories: 204
    • Protein: 10g
    • Fat: 10g
    • Carbs: 19g

3 LUNCHES

Lunch 1: Spicy Tuna Cakes (4 cakes)

Fish is a great addition to healthy eating, so grub down on meals like this!

    • Calories: 368
    • Protein: 20g
    • Fat: 20g
    • Carbs: 28g

Lunch 2: Chicken Zucchini Enchilada (1 enchilada )

Who says you need tortillas for enchilada?

    • Calories: 154
    • Protein: 16.7g
    • Fat: 7.2g
    • Carbs: 6.1g

Lunch 3: Lettuce Wrap Sandwich (1 sandwich)

If you lose the bread, a sandwich makes a great low calorie meal.

    • Calories: 279
    • Protein: 26g
    • Fat: 19g
    • Carbs: 10g

3 SNACKS (Unless you’re on “Team No Snack”)

Snack 1: Green Protein Snack Pack (2)

Edamame can give you a protein packed snack!

    • Calories: 234
    • Protein: 22g
    • Fat: 16g
    • Carbs: 32g

Snack 2: Avacado Egg Salad (1/4 recipe)

If you made a big batch of this salad, it'll make a great snack for healthy eating!

    • Calories: 330
    • Protein: 18g
    • Fat: 25g
    • Carbs: 8g

Snack 3: Baked Chicken Wings (1/5 of batch)

Chicken wings can be a great low carb or paleo friendly snack for healthy eating!

    • Calories: 440
    • Protein: 34g
    • Fat: 33g
    • Carbs: 1g

3 DINNERS

Dinner 1: Big-o Bacon Burgers (2 burgers)

If you use mushrooms instead of a bun, you can have an easy paleo burger!

    • Calories: 450
    • Protein: 34g
    • Fat: 40g
    • Carbs: 2g

Dinner 2: Vegan Portobello Pizzas (1 pizza)

Low carb and vegan pizza? Woot!

    • Calories: 165
    • Protein: 7.7g
    • Fat: 10g
    • Carbs: 14.5g

Dinner 3: Ground Beef Veggie Skillet (1/4 of dish)

If you mix your beer with veggies, you have a low-carb and paleo friendly meal. Healthy eating for the win!

    • Calories: 261
    • Protein: 29.5g
    • Fat: 1.8g
    • Carbs: 8.5g

These are meals that are high in quality foods, and low in total calories, which means they give you the best chance at weight management without being miserable! 

Just remember, quantity counts:

  • If your goal is weight loss: Keep an eye on the fat and carbs portion of your plate!  
  • If your goal is weight gain, then you can ratchet up your total calories consumed by increasing your fat and carbohydrate portion of your plate! 

Not sure how to make these meals work or how to adjust them for your goals? 

This is exactly what we do with our Online Coaching Program!




Will You Commit to Healthy Eating?

When not fighting crime, Batman eats healthy.

As we start to wrap this Guide up, I have one BIG final question for you:

“Why the hell are you reading this?” 

Sorry to be so blunt, but your answer matters! 

If you are trying to eat better because somebody told you to, or because you think you should, you’re setting yourself up to fail. 

You might be excited and motivated to eat healthy today, and that’s great! 

The start of a new activity, even a diet, can be very exciting as these apes know!

But next week, Oscar in Accounting will put cake in front of you at work, and ask you to “live a little” and eat some cake “just this once.”  

And then you’ll discover apps are half-priced at Chatchki’s during happy hour, and you figure “well I already had cake, might as well split some shrimp poppers and extreme fajitas with Meredith.”

This is how it always happens: Motivation abandons us when we need it most. 

And then one “ehh” choice becomes three bad choices which becomes “crap, I failed at my diet! I’m a loser. Okay I’ll just try harder next month…”

If you are committed to this goal of eating healthier, you need a DAMN good reason to start eating healthier in the first place!

Here are some examples you can build off of:

  • “I want to look better naked and start dating again.”
  • “I want to do epic stuff like running my first 5K.”
  • “I don’t want to die early like my dad did.”
  • “I want to find out what I’m capable of.”
  • “I want to feel pride, not shame, when I look in the mirror.”

There are many tough days ahead, many happy hours, and sabotaging coworkers. 

Having a great reason WHY can be the light in the darkness that helps you navigate the maze of temptation.

Frodo isn't afraid of the dark...or eating unhealthy.

In our Nerd Fitness Coaching program, we call this “The Big Why,” and having a reason can be the difference between success and failure:

It’s our Big Why that’s stops us from living emotionally and chasing instant gratification from a donut or six slices of pizza when we’re sad or stressed.

It’s our Big Why that allows us to say “Yes, I can have a slice of pizza, because I planned for it in my ‘calorie budget’ today. I’m not gonna feel bad about it either, because my breakfast tomorrow is gonna be great.”

It’s our Big Why that allows us to get back on track after a vacation or after just one day of poor eating, instead of letting things slide for a week or a month.  

Have your Big Why, and remind yourself of it constantly! 

Write it down, put it on a post-it note on your bathroom mirror, staple it to your forehead. 

But have a REASON you’re committing to change.

It will be crucial when life starts to get busy next week and you want to give up. So let’s talk about next week (and beyond!)

Healthy Eating: Next Steps!

You now know what it takes to eat healthy!

This guide has provided you with all of the tools you need to start making healthier choices, but if you are looking to go a bit further…

#1) Our 1-on-1 Online Coaching program: a coaching program for busy people to help them make better food choices, stay accountable, and get healthier, permanently.

You can schedule a free call with our team so we can get to know you and see if our coaching program is right for you. Just click on the image below for more details:

http://www.nerdfitness.com/




#2) The Nerd Fitness Academy – This self-paced online course has helped 50,000 people get results permanently. 

There’s a 10-level nutrition system, boss battles, 20+ workouts, and the most supportive community in the galaxy!




#3) Join The Rebellion! We have a free email newsletter that we send out twice per week, full of tips and tricks to help you get healthy, get strong, and have fun doing so. 

I’ll also send you tons of free guides that you can use to start leveling up your life too:

Healthy eating will change your life. 

But it needs to fit INTO your life too. 

Small changes, not dramatic shifts!

You don’t have to give up the foods you love, you just need to PLAN for them. 

Learn how to make a plate like we lay out in this guide.

Prioritize protein, and always put a fruit or vegetable on your plate before filling the rest of it up!

This will get you 90% of the way towards a great healthy eating strategy.

And when in doubt, whenever you’re not sure if you should eat a particular food, ask yourself “What would Batman do?”

Ask yourself "What would Batman eat?"

Seriously, this has been studied with children, and it helped them make healthier food choices by giving the decision making over to somebody they looked up to [22].

Oh, and when you eat a bad meal – who cares?! “Never two in a row,” right? Make the next meal healthy. 

YOUR MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT: 

Start eating healthy today with literally one change:

  • Try a new vegetable.
  • Cut one soda out of your day. 
  • Prioritize protein in your next meal. 
  • Swap out one high calorie drink for a zero calorie drink.

I don’t care what the change is, just as long as you make one!

Okay enough about me, let’s talk about you: 

What’s the ONE change you’re going to make today?

For the Rebellion!

-Steve

PS: Make sure you read the rest of the articles in our “How to Lose Weight 101” Series! 

###

All photo sources can be found right here[23].

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*