When you were a child, no doubt you were expected to follow some pretty simple nutrition guidelines. If you finish your dinner, you may have a cookie. Eat your veggies. And above all, clean your plate. Well, it’s time to retrofit your eating habits while taking those expressions to heart, and literally clean your plate- by cleaning up your diet.
While changing your eating habits may seem to be daunting task at first, you’ll be thrilled to know that better nutrition doesn’t have to mean eternal misery. Though some women do try to overhaul their diet overnight, by totally giving up fat, sugar and processed foods, a gradual approach will allow you a more comfortable transition time in which you can explore your options and find plenty of enjoyable ways to meet your body’s nutrient needs. Your goal should be to make changes that you can live with, yet are nutritionally sound. With a little time, effort, and careful planning, you will transform your diet while learning to satisfy your appetite in a better, smarter, healthier way.
ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE
Choose foods less for what they don’t have in them, and more for what they do have to offer your body, both in terms of quality and effectiveness. If the food isn’t based on healthy, nutritious ingredients, even if it doesn’t have anything really “bad,” you can choose better.
Focus on finding healthy foods that you enjoy instead of dwelling on the foods that you should limit or avoid. Make a list of healthy meals and snacks you like and know how to prepare and keep the list posted- in plain sight. Use this list as a guide when you are going grocery shopping. It’s a great way to prevent purchases that are based on cravings or convenience.
TAKE OFF THOSE ROSE COLOURED GLASSES
Start seeing food for what it really is. Most packaged and fast foods are the same six or seven cheap ingredients combined in different ways. Most of those ingredients are not ones you want to be eating in any quantity. Notice how food is marketed and advertised. What are the tactics the company is using to get you to buy it? What emotional/ social benefit are they implying?
AIM FOR VARIETY AND TRY NEW FOODS OFTEN
There are many different ways to plan a healthy diet, and perhaps the best place to start is in the kitchen! Buy a cookbook and start preparing your meals at home. Following new recipes can help you get used to preparing food in a healthier way, while cooking your own meals will teach you to become more aware of each delicious morsel you put in your mouth.
EAT YOUR VEGGIES
Read: Include more vegetarian options in your diet. Eating balanced vegetarian meals regularly will help you to cut back on saturated fat and increase the amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals you take in. Learn to cook with foods like beans, grains, nuts, seeds, tofu, and tempeh. Snack on fresh fruit and veggies.
GO FOR BASIC GOODNESS
Read: eat foods closest to their natural state. The closer a food is to its original form, the more it has to offer. Taste, satisfaction, nutrients all peak in fresh fruit, for example; frozen fruit, a bit less so, and canned the least. Count the steps your food had taken before it reaches your mouth; the fewer, the better.
AVOID FLAVOUR ENHANCED FOODS
Portion control is far easier when the food is healthier! Whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables produce greater satisfaction and don’t posess that “more-ish” quality that many processed, sweetened, heavily salted and artificially flavored products do.
BE LABEL SMART
Ingredients are listed in the order used. Sugar assumes several disguises, such as fructose, sucrose, and other “ose” endings. Be especially wary of high fructose corn syrup. Also beware of refined fats. Trans fats are not currently listed as such, but anything that contains hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil will contain trans fats in similar proportion.
IF YOU CAN’T PRONOUNCE IT, DON’T EAT IT
If you have no idea what the ingredients are, it’s probably a good idea to avoid it. While the jury is still out on what food additives’ long-term effects are on weight, I’m willing to bet money that it’d be better to make your own casserole, consisting of low-fat dairy, whole-wheat pasta, and fresh vegetables and spices then it is to grab a frozen casserole dish from the grocery store.
CARRY A STASH
Pack a supply of healthy snacks and “convenience foods” that you can take with you. Get a good, easy-to-carry cooler and some portable, reusable food storage containers. Know what and where you are going to eat each day – before you leave the house. Look into getting a tiny fridge for your office so you don’t even have to make a foray into the vending room.
Remember that many small steps…make a large impact. You decide to what extent you would like to follow the healthy lifestyle that you have recently adopted.
Remember, it’s entirely up to you, so don’t become stressed out about following a concrete set of rules. Start by setting two or three small nutrition goals, such as limiting yourself to just one coffee a day or having your eggs poached rather than fried. You’ll be surprised at just how much small changes make a big difference in how you feel!