Nutrition for Dummies: How Do I Get Started Being Healthier?

Contributed by: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC for Addiction Hope

Young woman on the market

Nutrition can get a confusing topic for many individuals, no matter your walk of life or background.

Thanks to the vast amount of information swirling on the internet and via media, there is an abundance of misinformation that can make it even more difficult to know what steps to take for a healthier life.

Nutrition Is Easy

The good news is that nutrition is actually very simple, and there are easy steps you can take towards a healthier you. If you are in recovery from addiction, following a healthy diet will be an important part of your wellness journey.

Depending on what your nutritional needs are, there are immediate steps you can take to ensure your body is getting the maximum nutrition to support your recovery from addiction.

Here are some simple ways you can start being healthier today:

Know Where You Stand

It’s difficult to know how to improve your health if you are not sure where you currently stand. A good way to do this is by keeping a record of what you eat, drink, and any activity you might do for 1-2 days.

When doing this, it is important not to alter anything and to record what you would typically consume in a day. This can help give you a snapshot of where you are and changes you can make that would be helpful for you. If you are working with a Registered Dietitian, this can be an excellent tool to bring to your appointment to help review your diet history.

Understand The Basics

cheerful young athletes jogging autumn morningYour body needs adequate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to function properly. Any too much or too little of one food group will not allow your body to get the nutrition it needs.

Aim for eating a variety of foods for the different food groups, including fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean meats, poultry and fish, and whole grains. When putting together a meal, try aiming for something that is cohesive, balanced, and that includes multiple food groups.

Looking back on your food record can help you identify gaps in your current meal pattern. For example, do you tend to only eat certain or repetitive foods? Do any of your meals lack a certain food group? Even making small changes, like adding a piece of fruit or small salad to a meal can help increase the nutrition that you might be receiving.

Aim For Moderation, Not Perfection

Many people associate healthy eating with dieting, which is not the case. Dieting often enforces restrictive eating, or only being able to eat certain foods, which will not set you up for success.

Eating healthy is about making conscious decisions about which foods you are putting in your body, choosing foods that will support your overall wellness and health. This does not mean that you can never eat a dessert again or can only eat “diet foods”. Food is meant to be both nourishing and pleasurable.

Man cooking

Explore new flavors, foods, and ways of cooking that can help expand your palate while also allowing yourself to indulge in “play foods”.

Eating healthy is about having a balance. Restricting any particular food group will likely only set you up for failure in the long run.

Intuitive Eating, Honor Your Body

Many of us have long ignored our bodies’ natural cues that tell us when we are hungry or when we are full. This can be due to a variety of reasons, including an overloaded schedule, chronic dieting, eating disorders, drug/alcohol addiction, medical complications, and more.

Learning to be healthier begins by tuning back in to your body and recognizing the natural cues that your body is already giving you. Are you eating when you are hungry? Do you stop eating when you are full, or do you continue eating even if you are not hungry anymore? Becoming more mindful of what your body needs is a great way to making peace with your body and food.

Learning to lead a healthier life involves lifestyle changes and should be seen as an ongoing journey. If you are struggling with knowing how to make healthier changes with your diet, consider meeting with a health professional who can guide you in the right direction.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What are challenges that you have faced in leading a healthy diet? How did you overcome these challenges?

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 20th, 2015
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About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.