how to be healthy in your 20s

10 Things Nutrition Experts Wish They Knew In Their 20s

Throughout college and my early 20s, diet was a mystery and constant experiment. I played with new ideas, cooking methods, recipes, and beliefs surrounding food. I went through periods of restricting, overeating, & over exercising to figure out what works for me and my body.  

Our 20s are a time of transition, trial and error, & experimentation. While we may not have everything figured out, we're enjoying the ride and learning as we go. I thought it best to learn from the pros who have been there/done that. Take a look at what they have to say and what they wish they knew about health and nutrition when they were in their 20s - everything from body image, to drinking, to bone health, and athletic performance.

Our 20s are prime time to develop lifelong healthy habits and there's no better time to figure out what healthy means to you.

nutrition expert, 20 something

I wish I knew about intuitive eating and that health and happiness was not about calorie and body fat control. - Adina Pearson, RD

I wish I knew.... Making physical activity and good nutrition a priority in your 20's helps you continue those healthy habits later on in life when life gets busier in terms of family and work responsibilities. Make it a habit while you are young so that you'll continue it later! - Kate Chury, RD

I wish I knew what an important role bone health played in my 20s. I definitely was not active nor did I nourish my body properly during these years when I was working in Corporate America and putting my job ahead of myself. I watched my mom suffer a terrible fracture as a result of osteoporosis when I was in my late 20s. Had I known my bone health would start to diminish in my 30s, I definitely would have put more emphasis on my self care. The good news is I now know that I can slow progression of bone loss and it's never too late to start following a healthy eating and activity lifestyle. - Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT of Nutrition Nuptials

I wish I knew there is no BAD food. We're not perfect nor are we the food police. If I try to hit 80%, that allows to miss physical activity or eat pie and ice cream occasionally. For consulting, if we can agree on 3 changes no matter how small, that's success for client - Wendy Rice, RD

I wish I had known more about alcohol's lack of nutritional value, how it contributes to weight gain and the role that heavy alcohol consumption plays in cancer risk. At the time I thought I was doing myself a favor because at least I wasn't drinking soda, but now that I know more about it I can see how my "heavy" consumption at the time (defined as more than one drink a day for women) likely contributed to my weight gain and possibly increased my cancer risk. I'm not saying 20 somethings shouldn't drink (I certainly still drink now!) but I do think it's important to be mindful of your consumption. Diana K. Rice, RD, The Baby Steps Dietitian

I wish I knew that I wouldn't have to work so hard to control my body's appearance and eating habits - if we learn to be okay with our choices and let our body be where it wants to be, it can be so freeing. Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RDN, LDN of Bucket List Tummy.

I wish I didn’t give food so much power over me. In my early twenties I used to label food as “good” or “bad” because I thought there was a perfect way to eat well and look good. As I learned more about nutrition, my eating habits became better balanced. For food to nourish your body AND soul, you can't be overly restrictive. Good health is a lifestyle change that you can sustain! - Trinh Le, MPH, RD of Fearless Food RD.

Don't worry so much about eating the perfect diet - it doesn't exist. Instead, focus on eating fruit and vegetables at every meal. It is easier to achieve eating fruits and vegetables (most days of the week) than to stress about eating perfectly all the time. - Kristi Coughlin, RD

I wish I had known that calories didn't count as much as quality. The laser focus on fat and calories back then was misplaced and resulted in recommendations for artificial sweeteners and high carb, low fat foods. - Bridget Swinney, MS, RD Prenatal and Family Food Expert

While I did figure it out in my 20s, I wish I knew in my early 20's, as a college athlete, how important carbohydrates were. I was under-fueled for years until my last couple of months of my swimming career, and eating adequately made a huge difference in my performance and mood! - Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN Performance Dietitian

Talk to me! I'd love to hear about your relationship with food, what healthy means to you, and how you can be your healthiest in your 20s!