While some people may prefer to follow a strict diet in order to lose weight, a lot of people can struggle on a diet and find it to restricted. Some people would rather just start making a few changes to what they eat in order to improve their diet. Having a better awareness of which foods are healthy and what to look for when grocery shopping and planning meals would be a huge advantage.
A good general rule to follow is that the closer a food is to its original or natural state, the healthier it is going to be. If it has simply just come out of the ground or been picked from a tree, it should retain all its nutrients and goodness. This is why fresh fruit and vegetables are so important to your diet. Steaming vegetables as opposed to boiling them, will help you to keep more of their vitamin and mineral content.
As well as being packed with nutritional value, fruit and vegetables have a high water content. This makes them ideal snacks to fill you up and keep you satisfied between meals. Fruit is also really good for satisfying those sweet cravings and much better for you than chocolate.
When you visit the supermarket, think carefully before putting food in your trolley. Processed and packaged foods (such as ready meals) may appear healthy, because they may contain rice or vegetables for example but you must start reading the labels. You may just find that the product is high in calories, salt and saturated fat, as well as being full of additives, colourings and artificial flavourings. Even products that may be marketed as diet or healthy meals, may not stand up under closer examination.
Processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon and sausages have a high saturated fat content, and you may want to consider switching to lean meats such as chicken or sliced ham. Be aware also about how you actually cook food as this can make it unhealthy. Skinless chicken breast is a healthy food choice but deep fried chicken is not, apples are really good for you, but to much apple pie is probably not.
Eat as many whole grain foods as possible such as breakfast cereals, bread, pasta and rice. Swap those greasy fries for a healthy green salad (be aware of fat-laden dressings) and add as much fresh vegetables as possible to your main meals. Avoid sugary breakfast cereals and swap sugary fizzy drinks for diet alternatives.
Make small changes to your diet and shop carefully. You do not have to give up all the foods you love, but enjoy them in moderation as a treat (junk and fatty foods should not be your staple diet). A greater awareness of what foods are healthy (and what are definitely not) will stand you in good stead as you strive to improve your diet.