Who isn’t guilty of panic-typing “healthy diet” and “weight loss tips” into Google when they notice their cheeks feeling chubbier than usual? But with all the fad diets available online, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Do you go for a low-carb, high-protein, or liquid diet? Can you switch ‘em up? Are you really allowed to have cheat days? And is it true that you could get abs (abs!) just by eating lots of bacon everyday? These questions are burning enough to set anyone’s figure-obsessed brain on fire, that’s for sure.
The good news: developing healthy eating habits isn’t as restrictive as the stars, the internet, or society at large make it out to be. What’s truly essential for any person, no matter their size, is to get more involved with the food that they prepare. Step one is to ensure that you consume more plant-based ingredients (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes), while keeping all highly processed foods to a minimum. Got it? Good. You’re on the fast track!

So, what about next steps? Well, as much as we’d love to hold your hand through the entire process, the best we can do is outline your path. Here are 5 basic things every healthy diet should have—start here and you’ll be making healthy a habit in no time!

#1: HOME-COOKED MEALS

Instead of opting for those costly diet delivery services, put your skills to the test and make your own home-cooked, portioned meals. Not only is it more budget-friendly in the long run, you’ll also know exactly what’s going into your food by preparing everything yourself. This way, you won’t have to worry about any high-calorie, low-nutrition ingredients slipping past you. You might also consider taking a page of out the meal prepper’s book and making a week’s worth of food at once. This would help you curb so many cravings, trust us!

WE LOVE: Stasher Bag Sandwich, P780, Milea Beeswax Food Wraps, P435

#2: HIGH-FIBER CARB SUBSTITUTES

Home-cooking would also encourage you to opt for harder working foods. For example: you could switch out white rice, which is stripped of many beneficial nutrients, with quinoa. It’s high in fiber, so it’ll keep you full for longer than your usual carb options. Plus, it also contains plenty of antioxidants, all nine essential amino acids, and vitamins. On top of that, it’s surprisingly rich in protein, which will help you build muscle for that dream bod right in time for your next vacay.

WE LOVE: Green Silo Organic Quinoa (2kg), P1,200

#3: ENERGIZING SNACKS

When the midday slump comes, it’s normal to want to stuff yourself with chips and cookies from the snack aisle. Unfortunately, most commercial food products contain a ton of empty calories that spell trouble for your health. If it’s a boost you’re after, it’s best to go for all-natural snacks that won’t make you crash straight after. Our absolute fave? Energy bites! It’s all in the name: they’re convenient, tasty, and super energizing, too. The best ones typically contain a mix of wholegrain oats, almond butter, dark chocolate, and chia seeds. Altogether, they make for a high-fiber, low-cholesterol, and antioxidant-rich snack that’ll beat any ol’ Oreo.

WE LOVE: Veganola Energy Bites (Tub of 20), P280

#4: SUGAR-FREE “SWEETS”

If you’re the type who has to have their sweet fix, we’d suggest skipping all the chocolate bars and marshmallows. Why? The refined sugars in them drain our bodies of essential nutrients, thanks to their demanding digestive requirements. So, save those for when the going gets tough. Instead, load up on cacao nibs for every day. Made from pure cacao (known as “food for the gods” to ancient Mayans and Aztecs), they help you digest better, regulate your metabolism, and lower your cholesterol. They also happen to heighten brainpower, so it’s great for getting past a serious case of brain fog!

WE LOVE: The Green Tummy Cacao Nibs (80g), P120

#5: NUTRITIOUS COMFORT FOODS

While letting go of your go-to (highly processed!) comfort foods seems like a daunting task, don’t stress. There are plenty of all-natural options that come just as close in taste, with some even going beyond your expectations. Start small by switching to a peanut butter that forgoes artificial sweeteners and preservatives, which can lead to weight gain. By sticking to pure peanuts, salt, and organic coconut sugar, you’re sure to get a ton of protein and fiber, plus all of that familiar PB flavor. Instant comfort without any of the downsides!

WE LOVE: Lifestyle Gourmet All Natural Peanut Butter (240g), P150

At the end of the day, these are all simply gentle suggestions. When it comes to diet changes, it’s still best to consult your doctor on what would be best for you. It’s your body—there’s no such thing as asking too many questions!

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