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Eating healthy can be a challenge at any age, but it can be especially hard for us twenty somethings.

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Many of us are out living on our own for the first time, experiencing our first full-time jobs and trying to get a handle on how to take care of ourselves. We’re trying to figure out how to be real, legitimate “grown-ups” and a part of that is managing our health and wellness. With so much else going on, however, it can be hard to give our diets much attention. The modern day, city dwelling young adult is always busy and always on the go – food and eating tends to be a last minute decision, an afterthought or a social occasion

While it’s understandable why nutrition is put on the back burner, it is unfortunate because not only is it extremely important, but it isn’t as hard as people make it out to be.

1. Find your purpose: If you’re looking to change your current habits, think about why exactly you want to start eating better. Whether it’s to live a healthier lifestyle or lose weight or to fuel yourself better for a race or to have more energy, write down why eating right is important to you. Having a reason and knowing why you’re changing your habits will help you stay true to your goals.

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2. Plan, plan, plan: Planning is crucial when it comes to healthy eating. If you have never been organized, now is the time to hone that skill. On a day off, plan for your week ahead so that you can be well fed throughout your days. Pick a few easy meals that you want to make and layout what you will need for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Look at the rest of your work and social schedule and factor that into your game plan. Meal planning isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but it will give you a list of items to walk into the grocery store with. You should also spend 1-2 hours on a day off chopping veggies, organizing easy to grab snacks and cooking anything you can ahead of time that will easily reheat for quick meals.

3. Snack smart: Been caught in a situation where you have to eat later than planned or you’re too busy to sit down and eat a full meal? Having quality snacks on hand will save you in these times of crisis. Well balanced snacks are just as important as well balanced meals. Don’t grab a piece of fruit and think that it will stave away hunger for more than twenty minutes. Fruit is an amazing snack when paired with some type of healthy fat, protein or carbohydrate. Think an apple and granola, blueberries and greek yogurt, banana and peanut butter. Other good options are cheese sticks and nuts, hummus and whole grain crackers or guacamole and sliced veggies.

workout gear picture4. Involve family and friends: Often times, it is the people closest to us who derail healthy lifestyle goals. It’s easy to cave into peer pressure when the people that you surround yourself with don’t care about eating well. Instead of isolating yourself and avoiding eating socially, involve loved ones in your healthy eating habits without jumping on a soap box.. Host dinner parties where you make the food, suggest restaurants to go to where you know there are healthy options to choose from, bring a healthy appetizer or snack to get-togethers so that you always have something to snack on that you can feel good about.

5. Don’t apologize for your lifestyle: When I started eating better and caring more about my health, I noticed that I apologized for my lifestyle a lot. I felt bad about having standards when it came to my food. It took a while, but it eventually hit me that I needed to get out of this mindset. If I feel good about what I’m doing and believe in the way that I’m eating, then I shouldn’t ever feel guilty for wanting to eat a certain way. Feel proud that you care about what you’re putting into your body! Show people how good eating right makes you feel and the positive things it has brought into your life.

Check out Allison’s blog, Wicked Healthy Washingtonian.