It’s a natural desire to want to eat healthy—to nourish your body with the nutrition it needs to feel good. But then actually figuring out how to eat healthy, or healthier, isn’t always so clear or intuitive. In fact, it’s really freaking confusing sometimes.

First off, there are a lot of opinions and information (and misinformation) out there, so it’s hard to know what to listen to. And diet culture has skewed a lot of our thinking about what healthy eating advice should sound like—often pushing restriction and prescriptive rules that don’t take into account the personal, cultural, and socioeconomic factors that influence what a healthy diet looks like for any one individual. Connected to that is the assumption, largely fueled by fatphobia, that healthy eating is synonymous with eating to lose weight. Find out more about losing weight from these meticore reviews.

In other words: If you’re a little lost on how to eat healthy, it’s not you. So we looked to 11 R.D.s from a variety of backgrounds, personally and professionally, for their best tips on healthy eating that are flexible and empowering, instead of rigid and punishing. They shared practical pieces of advice that can make it easier for people to enrich and diversify the nutrition in their diets and make their own delicious, satisfying meals—as well as, just as important, cultivate a more peaceful and enjoyable relationship with food and eating. Take the tips that speak to you, and add them to your very own one-of-a-kind healthy eating toolbox.

1. Say no thank you to one-size-fits-all diets.

“Diet culture is inherently homogenizing with its wide, sweeping health recommendations and generic weight loss prescriptions. Not only are we incredibly diverse on a nutritional level, we’re exponentially more complex on a health level. So if someone is telling you they discovered the right diet for most bodies, you can take that as a signal that this is not based in science and it is probably going to take you further away from yourself.” —Lindsay Birchfield M.S, R.D., L.D., health and body activist and dietitian at Creating Peace With Food and Rooted Heart Health Care

2. Make a list of your values and look at how well your relationship to food aligns with them.

“This is something I talk about with every client, because it’s so insightful for understanding our motivations and behaviors. Some examples of important values might be: open-mindedness, honesty, respect, or kindness, among many others. Try to connect your actions around food or eating to your values to see whether they uphold them or not. Check out the latest metabolic greens plus reviews.

For example, if you value honesty but you aren’t being honest with yourself about your food preferences, there is tension there that may be harming your relationship with food or your long-term well-being. Additionally, if you value respect yet you are not respecting your body’s energy needs or cravings for certain foods, you may notice some opportunities to make changes. If you attempt this, be sure to stay grounded in a place of non-judgment; this exercise is intended to cultivate curiosity only without inflicting further guilt or shame for what you might uncover in the process.” —Cara Harbstreet, M.S. R.D. L.D. of Street Smart Nutrition

3. Include social and cultural connection in your experience of eating.

“If your idea of healthy eating only focuses on the nutrient density of foods and you find yourself thinking about food all day long, even when you believe you’ve eaten enough, you may be missing one or all of these key ingredients: pleasure, satisfaction, and social connection. Expand your definition of healthy eating by including these key ingredients into your meal choices whenever possible.

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Try scheduling a Zoom meal with friends or family while you reminisce on the good times. Recreate your favorite childhood meals to bring back fond memories and a pleasurable eating experience. Or for variety and comforting nostalgia, incorporate recipes and ingredients from your culture into your meals.” —Ayana Habtemariam, M.S.W., R.D.N., L.D.N., nutrition therapist and certified intuitive eating counselor

4. Find adjectives to describe your food besides “healthy” and “unhealthy.”

“Get creative with how you describe or think about your food. Typically, we’re used to thinking about food in organized categories like healthy or unhealthy, good or bad. But these labels can promote either an all-or-nothing pattern (where you think you shouldn’t have certain foods if they aren’t considered healthy or good) or a cycle of guilt and shame if you enjoy foods you consider less nourishing.

Instead, I encourage you to get as creative as you can with how you describe your food. Make a list of as many descriptive words (spicy, savory, crunchy, melty, etc.) as you can. This can point you toward your true food preferences versus the food rules you absorbed from diet culture.” —Cara Harbstreet, M.S. R.D. L.D.