I eat pretty well and take pretty good care of myself. But it's taken quite a while to get here - before 2006, I had a pretty standard American diet. Lots of pizza, junk food, fast food, liquor, soda, sweets, etc. I smoked cigarettes, cigars, sheesha, and other kinds of tobacco.
Since then I've refined my diet and I eat pretty well. I have more energy, feel better, look better, and God willing, I'll live a lot longer as a result. It's a gradual process though, and I'm still improving. There's a few things I use to do it:
First, I'm all about incremental improvement - I think trying to crash change your diet is unlikely to work unless you have immense amounts of willpower and self-discipline. If you do have these Herculean amounts of will and discipline, you know who you are and don't need my advice. If you're more mortal, then you'll want to pick one or two things to be refining in your diet at a time.
Second, there's two ways I quit food or habits I don't like - "hard quitting" (cold turkey) and "soft quitting" (gradually reduce my consumption and eventually eliminate it). I pick which of these routes to go based on how convenient it is to quit something outright and if there's any detox process. If there's detox (like there was with nicotine), I think it's better to just get it over with once instead of constantly feeling deprived as your body re-adjusts to its new biochemical levels. The most successful method for quitting smoking is cold turkey, isn't it? Something like 80% of successful attempts to quit smoking are cold turkey? I don't have the statistics onhand, but that's the general idea. Quitting something like sugar, bad oils, or excess salt might be easier to do incrementally, since you need to replace the consumption with something else.
Which brings us to third point - I actively introduce new good behaviors before and during the time I quit something. Now, I don't know if the following is a good strategy, but it's what I did - when I started cutting down the sweets I ate, I increased my consumption of the kinds of salty foods I already ate: Chips, french fries, nuts, etc. Later I cut the salt content back. I don't know if that's a good habit, but it's worked okay for me. I also try to actively introduce fruits and vegetables before I quit something - it's hard to go from no fiber food that's highly processed to stimulate you immediately to fruits and vegetables. Fruit tastes bland compared to ice cream. So I introduce fruits and vegetables first, get comfortable with them, then increase my consumption of them as I decrease or eliminate bad consumption.
A reader asked me to share some about my nutrition. Here we go -
I don't consume at all:
*Tobacco in any form
I think cutting bad stuff out goes a long way towards doing things correctly.
I quit drinking in 2006... basically, I reckon the downsides from liquor aren't worth the upsides. Now about this, I get asked sometimes, "Is it awkward to go to a bar?" For the first six months it was. Now, it's not. I get a club soda and have no problems.
Likewise, I quit pretty much all recreational drugs at the same time in '06, depending on how you define it. I've gone back and forth with caffeine over the years - originally I quit caffeine in '06, but I saw some good research on metabolic advantages from caffeine. I do take vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, and fish oil. Beyond that, I'll take anti-inflammatories like acetametaphin or ibuproifen (the active ingrediants in Tylenol and Advil) if I've got inflammation from training or I'm ill. I'd be open at some point to trying nootrophics under the guidance of a physician, but I've been picking up low hanging health fruit first. Human Growth Hormone also looks promising, and I'd consider synthetic testosterone if I needed it to keep my testosterone levels up later. But all these are for health/longevity purposes, not for pleasure, with the possible exception of caffeine. I go back and forth on caffeine, maybe I'll quit it someday. For now, it's not an issue for me.