Nutrition

How Your Body Changes Once You Start Eating Healthy [A Useful Checklist]

The rules of healthy eating and what benefits you can expect to see on your body as a result

Story Highlights

  • Find out what happens to your body once you start eating healthy
  • After a day
  • After a week
  • After a month
  • After half a year
  • And after a year

Health is more than wealth. A strong and healthy body translates to a fuller, happier life. So while switching to a healthier diet is not easy, the benefits are definitely worth it.

Now your next questions must be: 1) What are these so-called benefits of eating healthy? 2) How long does it take to actually see the benefits after you start eating healthy? However before answering these questions, we need to clarify something important. Which is what ‘healthy eating’ really means and how you should go about staring it.

How To Start Eating Healthy

Healthy eating is not a diet. It is a way of living that does not require you to starve yourself nor to eat anything that you don’t want to. Healthy eating can become a habit, just like drinking your morning coffee or going to bed at 10 pm every night. It won’t be an easy ride, but once you manage to make it habit, it will come naturally.

Here’re the 5 most important things that you’ll need to pay attention to for turning healthy eating into your next best habit.

Healthy Eating Checklist

1) Processed Foods: NAY, Whole Foods: YAY

Whole foods means everything that is unprocessed or has gone through only a minimum level of necessary processing. You can think about them as foods that you could pick up from your little farm (if you had one) and put straight on the dinning table after cooking.

So things like vegetables, fruits and whole grains belong to the whole foods category. While your favorite cheat meals, like truffle fries or strawberry cheesecake most definitely don’t.

Processing usually diminishes the nutrient contents of food and increases ingredients that your body does not need, like sugar and sodium. Hence, as a general rule of thumb you should minimize processed foods in your diet and eat whole foods instead.

2) Don’t Just Count Your Calories, But Your Macros As Well

Counting your calories is a great start as it gives you an indication on how much you should eat. But you should not get fixated on calories.

Your macronutrients intake is just as, if not more important than calories. Because all calories are not created equally, 100 calories of chocolate won’t give you the same energy as 100 calories of broccoli.

Make sure you monitor your progress to stay motivated. Check out how in our Ultimate Tracking Guide.

First of all, the quantity of 100 calories of chocolate is a lot less than 100 calories of broccoli. Secondly, and most importantly, the quality of nutrients gained from broccoli highly surpasses that of chocolate.

3) Don’t Drink Empty Calories

Sodas and pre-packed fruit juices are the sneakiest calorie and sugar sources. The reason behind this is that most people would be very surprised how much sugar and how many calories are hidden in a single glass of them. And of course it’s really easy to chug couple of glasses when you’re thirsty.

Plus we also tend to assume that the words ‘fruit’ and ‘healthy’ come hand in hand . Well, the said truth is that they don’t. Supermarket shelves are stacked with artificial fruit juices that are pumped up with refined sugars and other flavor enhancers. These obviously won’t do any good to your diet.

So my #1 health-conscious advice in this department is water. Water is the single best cure for thirst and the only liquid that comes with 0 calories and 0 unhealthy additives. And if you crave something with more flavor, go for a cold-pressed juice or everyone’s favorite, a cheeky little LaCroix.

4) Avoid Snacking

Snacks are just like sodas. You can easily get to a couple hundred calories by simply eating a little piece of this and that every hour or so. Because a handful of peanuts won’t do any harm, right? One might not, but when that one handful becomes 3 and then 5, the calories easily add up.

So instead of jumping on anything you see in the snack cupboard, be conscious about your snacks and prep something healthy in advance. Veggies, like carrots or celery are always a good choice. Low in calories, high in nutrients.

5) Eat Smaller Portion Sizes

Finally, portion sizes are another tricky issue, especially in the US. Packed food sizes, meal sizes in restaurants and even plate sizes tend to get bigger and bigger exceeding the recommended serving sizes by far. As your brain adjusts to these increased sizes, your body also gets used to eating more. And the end result of this little chain is overeating.

However you can say no to the excess calories and teach your body to get used to the recommended healthy portions. There are a couple of tricks to do this starting from using smaller plates and putting away the extra food to skipping appetizers when eating out. But the most effective method in our opinion is ‘Mindful Eating’.

Learn About Mindful Eating Now

Now that we laid down the basis, it’s time to look at how your body changes once you start eating healthy!

1 Day Of Eating Healthy Results On Your Body

Constant hunger is not a pleasant feeling, but a quite common “side-effect” of dieting. One of the reasons behind constant hunger is an inefficient diet that subsists on empty carbs. Food filled with empty carbs burns up in your body quickly, which causes your body to crave substance faster. Hence, making you hungry shortly after you finished eating.

If you start tracking your macros alongside counting calories, you’ll finally start paying attention to eating nutrition-full foods. When you start to fuel up on these slow-burning sources of energy like complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats, you’ll start to experience fewer cravings throughout the day.

You’ll be amazed to find out that you can eat so much food without gaining weight. And before you think it’s magic, it’s really now. It can simply be explained by the fact that eating healthy means being more conscious about the types of food you eat.

Increasing the consumption of foods such as sumptuous fruits and fresh vegetables will nourish your body better. And because not all calories are created equally, these fresh and nourishing foods will usually contain less calories in the same amount as processed foods. Meaning that you’ll be able to eat more without increasing your calorie intake.

1 Week Of Eating Healthy Results On Your Body

You will experience a higher level of mental focus and have more energy in general. Meals high in sugar, saturated oils, and starch bring about immediate sleepiness, sluggishness, and bloated feeling. All you ever want to do after a big Mexican meal is go home and sleep.

By switching to healthy food choices, you will have all the energy needed to accomplish many other things for the rest of the day!

A poor diet can easily result in sleep quality drop. When you only consume foods that digest quickly and leave you hungry, you can disrupt your sleep cycle with middle of the night hunger. Once you start eating healthy, you will sleep more soundly. You will also fall asleep easier and won’t wake up so much throughout the night.

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When your body gets used to a healthy diet, you will experience a lower amount of bloating and discomfort. As a result you may notice that your clothes are feeling looser than before.

Furthermore, your body will be shedding all the excess water you have retained from high sodium intake and highly processed foods that you were consuming before.

Studies show that a number of nutrients are associated with mental health [1]. Some of which include omega-3s (salmon, flax and chia seeds), folate (asparagus, chickpeas, lentils) & vitamin B12 (tuna, shrimp, milk).

As you start eating healthy, you’ll notice you have less ups and downs throughout the day and may even start to feel more empowered. If you had depressive thoughts before, these may be starting to weaken.

Read How Your Body Changes Once You Start Exercising

1 Month Of Eating Healthy Results On Your Body

When it comes to your skin, what you put in your body may matter more than what you put on it. Good nutrition is a fundamental building block of healthy skin.

As you provide your skin with all the nutrients it needs for repair and growth, you’ll notice a new glow to your skin. The natural ingredients in food help to speed up the pace of exfoliation, protect the skin from UV damage and much more! You will look more radiant and appear younger!

As you start eating healthy and at regular intervals, you will notice your metabolism speeding up. Lots of water and fiber equals a very regular digestive tract. And if your metabolism is faster that means your body burns calories at a higher rate. This will lead to shredding those pounds more easily instead of piling up your fat storage[2].

Eating healthy will now require less effort. After doing something for 21 days straight, you will find that you do it without thinking. Making smart choices will start to feel like second nature! You will stop to crave certain foods that are not good for your body.

You can learn more about how to prevent giving in to cravings by understanding the science behind cravings.

7 TIPS TO BUILD LIFE-LONG HABITS

When you work out you tear your body down, damaging muscles, and ligaments. The most effective way to accelerate recovery and reduce muscle soreness is to eat nutrient dense foods. So once you start eating healthy, you’ll help your muscles to recover faster.

6 Months Of Eating Healthy Results On Your Body

That’s right! When people look and feel better about themselves, they are more open with their bodies. Confidence can lead to amazing results in the bedroom.

Your blood pressure may decrease, lowering your risk of heart diseases and stroke. Your blood glucose levels will also be under much better control, reducing blood sugar fluctuations and lowering your risk factor for diabetes.

It is also worth noting, however, that your blood pressure should not get too low. Curejoy give 9 effective remedies for treating low blood pressure.

Your bones will be getting stronger, reducing your risk of stress fractures and breaks. While this is something you cannot see, it is happening!

1 Year Of Eating Healthy Results On Your Body

You’ll be enjoying all the benefits listed above as these benefits will persist for as long as you continue to eat healthy!

You’ll be at your goal weight – a bodyweight where you feel healthy, strong and confident. What’s more, unlike quick-fix diets, this is for the long haul! Eating healthy will let you stay healthy and sexy for many years to come!

By this point you will know how to indulge wisely. You understand that a single cookie or two won’t hurt you. You can now treat yourself and not fall right off your healthy plan entirely.

Well-balanced nutrition and mental health are basically tied together. As we all know a happy body makes a happy mind. Eating nutrient-dense foods at regular intervals will help you feel more positive and energetic. With a well-fueled body and mind, you’ll also be better equipped to deal with the inevitable stresses of life.

Start Today

You don’t have to eat unprocessed for a whole year to reap the benefits. Eating healthy is not about being on a short term “diet” that is overly restrictive and leaves you hungry all the time. Instead, find a way of eating that can be sustained for the rest of your life, where you eat healthy most of the time and allow for occasional splurges.

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Sure, the change may be slow but these benefits make it all worth it. Try it for a day, a week, or a month. You don’t have to do it all, or all at once. But you can start today.

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Wiktoria Banda

Wiktoria is a content writer and illustrator at Shape.

5 Comments

  1. This is an awesome post. I love how it is broken down and full of encouragement Absolutely the best weight control article I have EVER read. Sharing with my friends.

  2. This is a great article, very motivating without being overly pushy. I am wanting to get back into a healthy lifestyle, I felt so much better when I ate only whole foods…you truly are what you eat. I think if I set a regular bed time and got my circadian rhythm back on track it would make a world of difference. I’m happy to see sleep science come to the forefront of health issues because I think poor sleep has a major role in the poor health of our nation.

  3. Easily explained and feeling good after reading your article . Absolutely needed message about healthy eating in today’s lifestyle. Thankyou so much.

  4. Hey, Thanks for the sharing your informative article on healthy eating. Right now I am pregnant can I eat everything from here or I need avoid some items from this list? Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

  5. Interesting. As someone that spent my whole life up to my early to mid 20s eating junk food because I didn’t put on any fat then changed to a healthy well balanced meal plan when I started too, I can say that I didn’t notice any of these changes apart from weight and skin improvements.

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