Eating a healthy diet doesn’t have to be overly complicated. While some specific foods or nutrients have been shown to have a beneficial effect on mood, it’s your overall dietary pattern that is most important. The cornerstone of a healthy diet pattern should be to replace processed food with real food whenever possible. Eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it can make a huge difference to the way you think, look, and feel.
To prep the kale for the salad, we’re going to add it to a large bowl with a little olive oil and rub all over the kale, massaging it until the kale reduces in volume and becomes less stiff. (This makes a huge difference in the texture of the kale and makes it much easier to eat. I like to buy pre-cut kale when I meal prep because it’s just easier and takes one less step out of the process.)

Prepare more of your own meals. Cooking more meals at home can help you take charge of what you’re eating and better monitor exactly what goes into your food. You’ll eat fewer calories and avoid the chemical additives, added sugar, and unhealthy fats of packaged and takeout foods that can leave you feeling tired, bloated, and irritable, and exacerbate symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety. 

Hi there, it’s Lacey! I’m the editor and main writer for A Sweet Pea Chef. I'm a food blogger, photographer, videographer, clean eating expert, and mommy of four. I also run the awesome free Take Back Your Health Community, am the healthy and clean weekly meal planner behind No-Fail Meals, and a little bit in love with Clean Eating. Be sure to check out my free beginner’s guide to eating clean and follow me on YouTube and Instagram to get my latest recipes and healthy eating inspiration.
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Personalized nutrition consultations are Karyn’s specialty. Her approach is based on her innate ability to meet her clients wherever they’re at. She has been in practice for 11 years: 2 years of private practice and, most recently, 9 years with One Medical. Karyn has completed all advanced practice modules with the Institute of Functional Medicine and can clarify optimum dietary and lifestyle approaches specific to your health status. As a certified natural chef, Karyn can cite recipes on the fly and provide menu plans and practical tips to ensure you’re truly enjoying making healthy food choices. She studied with behavior design guru Dr. B. J. Fogg to understand how best to facilitate behavior change — a vital tactic for clients who know exactly what they should do but have difficulty implementing their best intentions. Healthy shouldn’t be hard. Karyn makes it easy and convenient and works with clients remotely, so rather than having to get yourself to an appointment, she can "meet" you in your office or your kitchen — wherever you’re at and whatever’s easiest for you. For more information please visit karynforsythduggan.com and/or e-mail karyn@karynforsythduggan.com
The saturated fats in animal foods generally boost levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and have other adverse effects. To limit your intake, choose lean meats, skinless poultry, and nonfat or low-fat dairy products. It’s also a good idea to replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats (see next slide). Keep in mind, though, that not all saturated fats are bad for you; those in chocolate, milk, and cheese, for example, are more neutral in their effect on blood cholesterol. Trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils are even worse than saturated fats, but FDA regulations have now nearly phased them out of the food supply.
Putting down the salt shaker and skipping sugar in your coffee is a step in the right direction, but that’s not where most people get the majority of their salt and sugar. Sodium and sugar are rampant in most packaged foods from pasta sauce and mac and cheese to rice mixes and soups. Start by checking the nutrition label on your breakfast cereal (some pack up to 20 grams of sugar per serving!).
It’s well-established that increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables is good for you. A review of studies has shown that eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day can decrease the risk of stroke by 26%, as well as reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. One study done in King County suggests that the antioxidants in fruit and vegetable juices may play an important role in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Nutritionists are always saying to eat more vegetables, so cook them in a way that takes them from ho-hum to yum. "I even think that steamed veggies can be very boring!" says Ilyse Schapiro, a greater New York City-area registered dietitian. Always incorporate high-flavor add-ons to jazz up veggies, like sautéing with olive oil and garlic, or spraying them with olive oil before throwing them in an oven with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. That way, you don't equate "healthy" with "tasteless," a mindset that will knock you off the veggie bandwagon fast. Another tip: buy a spiralizer and make zucchini noodles. Topped off with a rich tomato sauce, you'll feel like you're eating pasta.

Fruit and vegetable juice can be part of a healthy diet and a way to get in additional servings of fruits and vegetables. Clinical research on juice cleanses, however, is limited. A juice cleanse typically involves lack of solid food and a low calorie intake. Long term, drinking just juice is not healthy since juice lacks protein, which could make it difficult to maintain muscle mass. Cleanses also could put you at risk for nutrient deficiencies since they lack fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids.
SS: Personally, I do not recommend a juice cleanse for long-term sustainable weight loss for my patients. I actually don’t recommend it even for short-term weight loss. If you have a health condition such as diabetes, I would not recommend juicing due to its concentrated sugar content and ability to trigger an increased insulin response. If you have renal disease you may need to limit your fluid intake and avoid certain nutrients filtered by the kidneys, like potassium, which is found in many fruits and vegetables (oranges, bananas, tomatoes, and spinach). Also, some juices high in vitamin K, like those with kale or spinach, may affect anti-blood clotting medication.
Fruit and vegetables are low in calories and nutrient dense, which means they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Focus on eating the recommended daily amount of at least five servings of fruit and vegetables and it will naturally fill you up and help you cut back on unhealthy foods. A serving is half a cup of raw fruit or veg or a small apple or banana, for example. Most of us need to double the amount we currently eat.
Most recipe books you see out there are a picture with a name and ingredients, we want to go a bit further and add our health benefit/conditions in with our juiced nutrition facts to blow all of them out of the water. Again, it's one of those things that we don't want to just make a quick buck on and we want you to love it. It's proving to be a bigger project than we thought, but it's being worked on.

Devotees believe a juice cleanse is a healthy alternative to meals, sometimes for two to three days in a row. But most experts agree that it’s not good for you. One downside: not ingesting enough protein. While kale, spinach, and other veggies offer modest amounts, nothing matches a diet filled with lean proteins like chicken, fish, eggs, and cheese, among others. Consider juice a complement to your diet, not a replacement for actual food.
Not all packaged or pre-made food is bad for you, but you’ll need to read nutrition labels carefully in order to choose wisely. Ideally, you should gravitate toward healthy options that make nutritious cooking easier, like frozen vegetables and canned beans, and skip the meals in a box that are loaded with preservatives, hidden sources of fat, and too much sugar and sodium.

To set yourself up for success, try to keep things simple. Eating a healthier diet doesn’t have to be complicated. Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories, for example, think of your diet in terms of color, variety, and freshness. Focus on avoiding packaged and processed foods and opting for more fresh ingredients whenever possible.

The first step to making these burrito bowls is marinating your chicken. The chicken gets marinated in a mixture of lime juice, olive oil and seasonings, then grilled to perfection. If you don’t want to fire up the grill, you can cook this chicken inside on a grill pan or in a regular skillet. The chicken is combined with cilantro lime rice, black beans, corn and fresh salsa to make an amazing meal that tastes like it came from a restaurant.
A better approach is to make a few small changes at a time. Keeping your goals modest can help you achieve more in the long term without feeling deprived or overwhelmed by a major diet overhaul. Think of planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps—like adding a salad to your diet once a day. As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices.
In a nutshell: No. Health Matters turned to Shira Sussi, MS, RD, CDN, a clinical nutritionist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and Helen Mullen, MS, RD, CDN, CNSC, clinical nutrition supervisor at NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, who explain why relying on juice for weight loss or its so-called cleansing properties has its drawbacks.

The important differences involve calories and fiber. One of the myths of juicing is that when pulp is removed, there goes all the fiber. The truth is some fiber is lost, but not all. Much soluble fiber remains in fresh juice while most insoluble fiber is removed. The pulp is additional calories so juice is preferred for weight loss. But those with digestive issues will find more help in the fiber-rich smoothie. Also, one of the most powerful cholesterol-lowering compounds is insoluble fiber so a smoothie would be our choice for lowering cholesterol.
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