Eating is one of life's greatest pleasures! Healthy food should be fun, flavorful, and easy. Here's how to get it right.  

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When people find out that I’ve spent years as a health food writer and cookbook author, they always ask what I actually eat. I get the fascination—I’ve tried basically every super food and trendy diet on the planet, and have benefited from having a direct line to some of the world’s best doctors. The main thing I’ve learned? A lot of the information available in the wellness world is muddling the ultimate message and creating obstacles that get in the way of people living lives that feel good and are enjoyable.

I created my podcast, Instagram account, and new cookbook, Healthier Together, to demystify healthy eating show how fun and accessible making food that’s bright, crave-worthy, and really good for you can be. Here are a few things people often get wrong about eating healthy.

They get too caught up in the diet debate.

Paleo, vegan, keto—with all of the trendy diets out there, it’s easy to get caught in contradictory information. We end up giving up. A good rule of thumb: Aim to make plant-based foods around four-fifths of your diet. Instead of trapping myself in labels, I try to fill 80% of my plate with vegetables and not sweat the other 20%. Sometimes it’s legumes, grains, or meat. Sometimes it’s a cheeseburger! Fewer restrictions means you're more likely to stick to an overall nutritious regime.

They focus on calories.

Let go of your macronutrient obsession, and instead focus on filling your plate with nourishing whole foods. I guarantee you'll feel happier right away. In my years as a wellness writer and editor, I've learned that calories are, at best, an incomplete part of the equation. They don’t account for overall health, including the state of your gut, your inflammation levels, or how balanced your hormones are. By dropping calories from the equation and focusing on nourishing your body as a whole, you’ll be far more likely to achieve a healthy lifestyle you can stick with. Your stress will be lower, too.

They don’t eat what they love.

Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and healthy eating should be so much more delicious than chomping on undressed lettuce leaves or steamed chicken breasts. The only healthy lifestyle we can really stick to is one filled with foods we’re excited to eat. Nutritious dishes can be bright, bold, interesting, and packed with flavor (and if they’re not, you’ll eat them for about a week before going back to your previous diet). Think about the foods you love most, then see if there’s a way to add in some fiber, healthy fat, and/or protein. Sneaking in some beautiful in-season produce is a super simple solution.

They try to do it alone.

Community is key. It makes us happier, and it also helps us stick to healthy habits: time and again, studies show that people are heavily influenced by the lifestyles of those around them. Healthier Together was designed to strengthen relationships by cooking food together. Building community also decreases stress, directly impacting cortisol levels that lead to increased anxiety (and belly fat). How’s that for an excuse to invite a friend over for dinner?

They rely on expensive super foods.

While the pervasiveness of wellness has been an amazing movement, with it comes a bevy of new potions and products, all touting their ability to make you instantly healthy. I’ve worked with the country's best functional medicine practitioners for years, and I can say with assurance that you don’t need any of the pricey powders or supplements to be well. In fact, some of my favorite "super foods" are already available, right in your own pantry: spices. Spices are packed with flavonoids that can have a massive impact on health, plus they also contribute delicious flavors to your food. I encourage everyone to ignore the latest adaptogens and opt instead for the accessible-yet-potent healing powers of cinnamon, turmeric, and cardamom.