Boost Joy with Healthy Eating: 3 Action Steps!

Ready to boost your joy and energy levels through healthy eating? This guide provides three simple action steps to help you get started on your journey to better nutrition!

Our diet plays a significant role in not just our physical health, but also our mental and emotional health. Research has shown that certain foods can have a direct impact on our mood and happiness levels.

My perspective on healthy eating

My understanding of what constitutes healthy eating has shifted a few times over the past few years.

In college, my approach to eating healthily revolved around adhering strictly to nutritional recommendations.
This shift altered my perspective on meals from pure enjoyment to focusing solely on the nutrients they provided.

Without warning, my view shifted from observing traditional Costa Rican gallo pinto, a mixture of rice and beans, to witnessing complex carbohydrates and plant-based proteins.

Starting my nutritionist practice made me believe that fitting a particular body image was necessary, leading me to think that healthy eating involved meticulously measuring my food intake.
I ate anything I desired as long as I ensured I consumed the necessary nutrients.

I provided my body with all the necessary nutrients for good health, yet healthy eating involves more than just that.
It’s also about how food makes you feel.
With food playing a crucial role in culture and social gatherings, eating should be a pleasurable experience.

Today, my approach to healthy eating has shifted.
I now embrace a more adaptable meal plan, recognizing that achieving a balance is crucial for feeling nourished and content with what I eat.

Eating healthily for me now entails having a variety of foods from all food groups on my plate without the need to measure or overthink plant-based versus animal-based protein or simple versus complex carbs.

It means I can indulge in a variety of treats like sweets, fast food, and desserts without having to track or limit myself.

Achieving the right balance took time and didn’t happen overnight, but my approach to healthy eating has evolved through various life stages.

By nourishing your body and tuning into its needs, you can define healthy eating in your way, since it’s accessible to all.

Understanding the broader perspective

Like most aspects of life, maintaining a healthy diet doesn’t always unfold as expected.

Finding yourself working late at night or feeling too exhausted to cook at home shouldn’t stop you from ordering take-out and relishing the meal.

To prioritize healthy eating, it’s essential to stay open-minded about food choices and be ready to adjust to different situations that frequently arise.

When deciding on food spontaneously, I aim to select the best option available.
I prefer ordering something reminiscent of a home-cooked meal or opting for a sandwich, salad, or bowl whenever possible.

At times, I feel a hankering for pizza, and I happily indulge in it!
During moments like these, I remind myself to consider the broader perspective.
It’s important to understand that a nutritious diet is determined not by individual meals but by the decisions we consistently make each day.

A dear friend once shared a wise adage with me: “A single poor meal won’t cause illness, just as one nutritious meal won’t ensure good health.

At times, it can be difficult

As a dietitian, many assume that maintaining a healthy diet comes effortlessly.
However, like everyone else, we dietitians are human and also enjoy indulging in desserts and craving various foods.

For me, a major hurdle I encountered involved relinquishing many carb-rich foods to control frequent infections.

Carbohydrates can be found in various food categories such as grains, starchy veggies, legumes, fruits, and dairy, as well as in processed items and sugary treats.

Experts commonly classify them into two groups based on their fiber content.

Whole grains: preserve their inherent fiber.

Refined carbs are processed to eliminate their fiber and have additional sugar.

Theoretically, I was supposed to cut out refined carbs, a practice some may argue is the healthiest choice.

In reality, I ultimately decided to eliminate various processed carbs such as whole wheat bread, pasta, starchy vegetables, grains, and dairy from my diet.

Hence, my carb-heavy food options were restricted to fruits, oats, quinoa, and legumes like lentils, beans, chickpeas, and edamame.

Despite being told that transitioning wouldn’t be difficult for me as a dietitian, adapting to my new eating habits, especially while preparing quick snacks or dining out, proved to be a challenge.

3 things I do that you could do as well

As mentioned earlier, my organizational skills and creativity guide me in selecting the optimal food options daily.
This is because, in my perspective, each meal constitutes a decision towards healthy eating.

To simplify the decision-making process, I aim to select the best meal or snack options that suit me well.
This approach helps me stick to healthier choices consistently.

Three actions I consistently take daily or weekly to facilitate my healthy eating habits

Meal prep

Although it may seem like a cliché, prepping my meals in advance for the week truly works wonders.

Cooking may require significant time investment, but having ready-to-serve meals means I can enjoy a quick and healthy dish in minutes.

A meal-prepping strategy I frequently rely on involves preparing a large quantity of proteins, typically chicken or other lean meats.
I then divide them into portions and freeze them for convenient use throughout the week, defrosting them as necessary.

Preparing vegetables in advance for the week ensures that I can easily enjoy a fresh salad or include a side of veggies with every meal without hesitation.

I experiment with various cooking methods to keep things interesting and prevent them from becoming unappealing, which might lead to them being left uneaten.

When it comes to carrots or zucchini, I can slice, dice, grate, or spiralize them, making it simple to include them in my meals.

Have fruit nearby

Having my fruit in plain sight serves as a constant reminder to include fruit in my daily diet.

Studies indicate that you are inclined to consume larger quantities of snacks placed nearby, irrespective of whether they are healthy fruits or sugary treats.

Daily, I follow this principle by keeping my fruits showcased on a table while storing snacks and sweets out of sight.

Follow a routine

Although I don’t formally create a weekly menu, I do follow a consistent selection of dishes for each meal.

For instance, my typical breakfast options consist of:

  • Costa Rica’s traditional dish of gallo pinto served with eggs
  • Peanut butter toast served alongside eggs.
  • oatmeal with fruit
  • oatmeal pancakes

For my other meals and snacks, I always have a choice of at least three options without having to think about it.

Having a fixed selection of dishes that I enjoy helps me save time by eliminating the need to choose what to eat, and it gives me the flexibility to switch up my meals based on whether I want something sweet or savory.

Additionally, it is incredibly convenient for groceries since you are already aware of what you will likely have for each meal.


As humans, we consistently evolve and adjust to change, just like our idea of nutritious eating.

I have discussed how my perception of healthy eating has evolved over time, the main hurdle on my journey to better eating, and my strategies to simplify healthy eating.

My approach may not be the definitive or exclusive method for maintaining a healthy diet.
It’s simply what suits me and might not necessarily be suitable for you.

Eating healthily is personal and varies for everyone.
Think about ways you can incorporate healthy eating into your daily routine to help you succeed.

For those unsure where to begin, working with a registered dietitian can assist in creating a long-lasting, healthy eating plan tailored to your unique needs and lifestyle.


why is it important to eat healthily?

A balanced diet is vital for overall health and nutrition. It protects you from numerous chronic noncommunicable diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. A healthy diet includes eating a variety of foods and consuming less salt, sugar, saturated, and industrially manufactured trans fats.

What is considered healthy eating?

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products are prioritized. Protein sources include fish, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, almonds, and seeds. Is low in added sugars, salt, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.

What is scientifically the best meal?

It focuses on meals that were regularly eaten in the Mediterranean region during the twentieth century and before. As a result, it has an abundance of vegetables, fruits, fish, poultry, whole grains, legumes, dairy products, and extra virgin olive oil.

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