Adopting balanced eating habits that are practical and sustainable can make a significant difference in having a healthy lifestyle. Here are 7 basic healthy eating habits that align with evidence-based nutritional guidance and can be integrated into daily life without feeling overwhelming. These practices are a great way to improve overall health!

shopping bag with healthy fruits and veg and scale.

Healthy Eating Habits to Try

Whether you’ve gained some weight, been diagnosed with a health condition, or you just want to eat healthier, here are seven basic pillars of healthy eating to get started.

These habits include: prioritize whole foods, stay hydrated, eat mindfully, limit added sugars and refined grains, moderate portion sizes, and eat protein at every meal.

You’ve heard of keeping it simple? This can be really true when you’re trying to get back to basics or you’re embarking on a new healthy eating program.

For more support, consider joining my Clean Eating Mini-Course to get started now!

1. Prioritize Whole Foods

Focus on consuming whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These foods are rich in essential nutrients and dietary fiber, which can help in maintaining a healthy weight, improving digestion, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of many health conditions.

And, the cool thing is that you don’t have to focus on eating less. Instead, try eating more whole foods which over time will leave less room for junk foods.

2. Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water is crucial for maintaining optimal health. Hydration affects energy levels, brain function, and is essential for the digestion and absorption of nutrients.

While there is no perfect amount of water that each person should drink each day, try filling a water bottle every morning and drink it throughout the day.

You’ll notice over time that your hydration needs change depending on the weather, the time of year, or even from day to day depending on the types of foods you are eating.

3. Eat Mindfully

Mindful eating involves paying attention to your food, on purpose, moment by moment, without judgment. It’s about enjoying your food with all your senses and being present while eating.

This practice can help improve your relationship with food, aiding in weight management and reducing binge eating.

Eating with intention can help you get a balanced diet because you’ll notice more about how a healthy diet makes you feel.

Make mindfulness part of your daily routine by setting some basic guidelines around meal times. Try avoiding screens when you’re eating and allowing yourself time to “rest and digest.”

4. Limit Added Sugars and Refined Grains

Reducing the intake of added sugars and refined grains, such as those found in sugary drinks, snacks, and white bread, can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

The American Heart Association advises women to consume no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day.

If you find yourself craving sugar, try focusing on getting a variety of fruits instead. Fresh fruits contain natural sugars which can help satisfy your cravings.

5. Plan Your Meals

Planning meals in advance can help ensure that you have healthy ingredients on hand, reduce stress around mealtime, and avoid unhealthy food choices. Meal planning is linked to better diet quality and variety.

It’s also one of the best ways to make sure you are getting enough protein and other food groups. Be sure to add in healthy snacks to your meal plan.

6. Moderate Portion Sizes

Paying attention to portion sizes can help avoid overeating, even when consuming healthy foods.

Using smaller plates, reading food labels for serving sizes, and being aware of hunger and fullness cues are practical strategies to manage portions.

Portion control is also a great strategy for avoiding feeling deprived of your favorite foods. If there is something you just have to eat, allow yourself a bite!

7. Include Protein in Every Meal

Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, making enzymes and hormones, and providing a sense of fullness, which can help with weight management and blood sugar levels. Including a source of protein in every meal and snack can help maintain muscle mass and metabolism.

Sources of healthy protein include legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, lean meats, and dairy products. Shoot for anywhere to 50-100 grams of protein per day for women (see this article for more information on how much protein you need based on body weight, physical health, and other body needs).


Each of these habits is supported by research to contribute positively to health without being restrictive or difficult to maintain. Making small, incremental changes in these areas can lead to lasting benefits over time.

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About the Author: Carrie Forrest has a master’s degree in public health with a specialty in nutrition. She is a top wellness and food blogger with over 5 million annual visitors to her site. Carrie has an incredible story of recovery from chronic illness and is passionate about helping other women transform their health. Send Carrie a message through her contact form.

Note: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations related to your individual situation.