Healthy Is the New Skinny

Sharon Palmer

When it comes a healthy eating, rather than keep a laser focus on the scale, I would like to suggest that you focus on healthy eating and exercise, and the rest will come along naturally.

So many “diets” are short-term solutions, packed with guilt and deprivation. In fact, many of these so-called diets are not even geared to optimal health and disease protection. They promise weight loss (and often don’t deliver on that!), but fall short on boosting your nutritional intake and including foods that will help maintain a healthy heart, brain, and body over the long haul. What good is losing a few pounds, if you sacrifice your body along the way? And studies show that most short-term weight loss plans fail anyway, because most people go right back to the way they ate before.

In today’s pop culture of Photoshopped images of thigh gaps and underweight models, it’s easy to fall under the spell that “skinny=healthy”. But how healthy is it to fall short of your protein, energy, vitamin, and mineral needs every day? Those are the nutrients that you need to fuel your body’s cells to build healthy bones, muscles, and organs to live a healthy and fulfilled life—a long one at that!

So, ditch the fad diets, and let your healthy eating goals be all about sustainable, plant-based eating with these eight tips for a healthy (not skinny!) weight.

Top 8 Tips for Healthy—Not Skinny—Eating

Cauliflower Spinach Lasagna

1. Pile Up on Vegetables. Non-starchy veggies, such as greens, cauliflower, green beans, zucchini, and carrots, offer so much fiber and volume in your diet, for a skinny little calorie price. That’s why you should include at least 6 servings in your diet every day. They will fill you up without filling you out.

2. Don’t Skip Meals. Research suggests that when you skip meals, you tend to make up for those calories later on in the day and then some. This is especially true of breakfast.

Make fruit your go-to dessert! 

3. Make Fruit Your Dessert. I recommend a few servings of fruit a day, and in that small 60-calorie serving, you can gain so much satisfaction and nutrition power.

4. Keep Track of Portions. Even healthy foods, like nuts, beans, and brown rice, can boost the calories if you’re not careful with portions. Limit these nutrient-dense foods to small portions, a handful of nuts 1-2 times a day and ½ cup of beans or cooked grains for a serving.

Stir-fry with tofu is a balanced plant-powered meal made in heaven. Get the recipe here

5. Balance Your Meals. Make sure that you have a nice balance of protein, fat, and carbs at each meal. For breakfast that can be 1 cup cooked oats with 1 ounce nuts, 1/2 cup banana slices, and ½ cup soymilk. For lunch it can look like a salad with 2 cups kale, ½ cup chickpeas, 1/5th avocado, ½ cup quinoa, and ¼ cup raisins. And for dinner that can be a stir-fry with 2 cups vegetables, ½ cup tofu, and ½ cup brown rice with a pear for dessert.

6. Ditch the Junk. While you can afford a small treat and still stay on track with a healthy weight, it’s hard for most of us to afford the calories found in gigantic cookies, movie theater popcorn bags, and big bags of potato chips—even if they are organic (and vegan)! Look through your diet and cut out the junk. Try to focus on nutrient-rich foods—whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits—that fuel your body. But remember, you still can fit in occasional treats, but try to keep those to around 100-150 calories (say a square of dark chocolate or a small cookie) if you’re trying to lose weight.

4-Way Meal Prep: Roasted Spiced Vegetables, Chickpeas and Quinoa

7. Keep a Journal. Studies show that the most successful weight loss maintainers track their daily intake. That’s because often you don’t realize how much food (and how many calories) you’re consuming during the day, what with that extra bite here and there while standing in the kitchen, watching TV, or driving. If you write it down (on paper or in a food diary app), it really happened and you are accountable.

8. Exercise every day. It doesn’t have to be a trip to the gym, but find a reason and purpose to move every single day. Even if it’s walking, dancing, or gardening. Your whole body will thank you. Check out this post on fitness motivation tips from health professionals and experts (including me), to keep you on track this year.

Remember, enjoy your meals and fill them with meaning. Every purchase you make is a vote with your food dollar. And you can seriously impact the planet and animal welfare with your food choices.

Eat and live well,


For other blogs on healthy eating, check out:

18 Non-Diet Tips for Healthy Eating from Top Nutritionists
Eating for Healthy Aging
Plant-Based Eating: The Path to a Healthy, Sustainable Diet

Written by Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN on December 29, 2015; Updated December 17, 2019.

Image: Green Goddess Buddha Bowl, Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN

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