Positive Habits of Healthy Diet and Exercise

Contributor: Marie Robles RD, LDN at The Eating Disorder Treatment Program at River Oaks Hospital

beach-387377_640Nutrition can have various meanings. For example, eating a variety of foods and eating frequently can lead to healthy balanced nutrition. Start with 4 basic steps: First, eat breakfast within 1 hour of waking to fuel your body adequately for the day.

Second, don’t go more than 3-4 hours without eating something. Meals can hold off hunger for 3-4 hours while snacks can last 1-2 hours. Third, drink enough water to hydrate the body but remember that water alone cannot replace a meal.

Sometimes our body thinks we are hungry when in fact it’s thirsty. Last; breakfast, lunch, and dinner should have a variety of foods for optimal nutrition.

Hunger Is a Good Thing

Remember, hunger is a good thing and it reminds us that our metabolism is working correctly. Meals should include protein such as meats, beans, eggs, nuts and cheese, at meals and snacks to keep you satiated.

Follow these few basic tips to a new healthy you.

Eating and Working Out Go Hand-In-Hand

strawberries-407228_640When discussing balance, exercise and proper nutrition go hand and hand. Sports nutrition can vary for each person but the principle of eating pre and post-workout does not change. Not having enough to eat before a workout can be harmful to the body.

Blood sugars drop during exercise; which can leave you feeling shaky, lightheaded, or nauseous. If you haven’t eaten in 3 hours, have a small snack prior to your workout and hydrate with water. It can take two hours to digest a main meal and 30 minutes-1 hour to digest a snack.


Consider including a protein and carbohydrate. Having a little fat at this meal can help provide a slow release of energy. Examples include peanut butter on toast, nutrition bar, or ½ turkey sandwich.


After working out, try to include a protein and carbohydrate but make sure it is low-fat. Fat slows the digestion and after a workout, you want the muscles to receive nutrition as soon as possible. Liquids tend to work the best but make sure to get a good balance of nutrients. Examples include 8 ounces of milk, Greek yogurt plus fruit, cereal with skim milk, or nutrition bar.

There are several advantages of refueling after a workout: Boosts your immune system, maintains lean muscle mass, prevents muscle breakdown, and decreased muscle soreness.

These are just a few tips to get you started and improve your health and fitness routine.

Balance in Exercise and Eating

A lifestyle that includes nutrition and exercise can result in prolonged health. Balance means not restricting calories while allowing one to eat a variety of food without guilt. There is no one perfect diet or exercise regimen that fits each person.

When taken to an extreme, over training and reducing nutrition can cause long term damage.

Signs and symptoms of exercise addiction:

  • Decrease in physical performance
  • Significant weight loss
  • Exercise related injuries
  • No rest times during regimen
  • Depression
  • Dehydration

Signs and symptoms of decreased nutrition and/or an eating disorder:

  • Cessation of menstrual cycle in women
  • Exercising to burn calories eaten in a day
  • Obsession with calorie counting
  • Making food but not eating it

When to seek professional help:

  • When exercising to hide emotions
  • Decreasing food amount when unable to exercise
  • When change affects other family/friends
  • When exercise causes injury or other medical problems

Setting Up a Realistic Regimen

rainbow-bridge-68827_640Nutrition and exercise balance includes setting up a realistic regimen. Finding the time to exercise is important but it should not be all or nothing. Incorporate friends and family to make cooking and exercising more fun.

Most importantly, listen to your body. Do not do anything that will result in further harm to your body.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

Balance is important with proper nutrition and exercise; in what ways do you work to obtain proper balance in recovery? Are there tools that you have found helpful?

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 7th, 2015
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com