Eating healthy can actually be incredibly easy. The trick is to make sure every single one of your meals—including snacks—incorporates the key nutrients that your body needs in order to stay properly nourished and satiated. Without those nutrients, you'll likely feel hungry and eat more throughout the day which, evidently, makes you gain weight. So what are these key nutrients? Make sure all of your meals include carbohydrates, protein, healthy fat, and fiber. If you have all of those in your meals, you're on the right track to sustaining a healthy weight!
Here's why, and for more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out our list of 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.
Why these specific nutrients? Maggie Michalczyk, RDN, founder of Once Upon A Pumpkin, and recent cookbook author, says that these are the nutrients that will help you feel full and satisfied—which results in less mindless snacking later in the day.
"Balanced meals and snacks throughout the day is the best way to make sure you don't end up famished at night looking to eat anything/everything in sight which can help keep you on track with your workout journey," says Michalczyk.
This even includes your breakfast! If you're craving that sugary donut, enjoy it with a few other items that will round out your meal—like scrambled eggs and a cup of berries. Without adding these key nutrients, that sugary donut will cause a blood sugar spike and a quick crash, which will result in hunger and a craving for "quick" energy (i.e. unhealthy snacks) not much later.
"Studies have even shown that people who ate a bigger breakfast tended to weigh less, so don't fear eating a substantial breakfast. You'll also feel energized and ready to tackle a workout or a project better when fueled up properly," says Michalcyzk.
So now that you know the key nutrients to go in your meal, what should your meals actually look like? One of the easiest guidelines to follow is the MyPlate dietary guidelines through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). These guidelines recommend that you fill up 1/4 of your plate with protein, 1/4 of your plate with a healthy carb (like one of these 12 Best Carbs To Eat for a Flat Belly), and 1/2 of your plate with fruits or vegetables—or both! By following these simple guidelines—and measuring out proper portion sizes—you'll find yourself with a satiating, healthy meal every single time. For guidance, here's What Perfect Food Portion Sizes Actually Look Like.