When it comes down to it, the vast majority of us know how to eat properly. We know that fruits and veggies are good for us and that donuts are not. We know that moderate portions are smart and stuffing ourselves to the brim isn't wise. We still seem to struggle with making good choices. Let's be honest- junk food tastes good! It triggers happy zones in our brains and we like to indulge. Stress, fatigue and convenience leads us to poor food choices.
Here are some tips that have helped my family and myself stay on track with our nutrition:
1.) Eat at the table. I know that people are busy and have different schedules, but eating together as a family promotes healthy eating habits. Meal times are important for sharing the experience of a meal, enjoying conversation and mindfully eating our food. It is easy to overeat when we are distracted by a television and it is easy to scarf down more than you need when you are eating a rushed meal at the counter. It takes your stomach 20 minutes to tell your brain that you are full. It is much easier to allow this time if you are enjoying the meal with the people you love. Even if you aren't able to do this every meal or even every day, try to do it as often as possible. Can't get everyone at the table for dinner? How about breakfast, then? Can't do meals every day? How about 3 times a week? It is certainly worth the effort.
2.) Limit sugary drinks. When Hubby and I were struggling to conceive our first child, we really tried to clean up our eating habits. We both enjoyed pop (or soda, as I believe my American friends call it). Instead of going cold turkey we set limits for ourselves. We made a rule that we could only have 3 pops a week. When that became easy, we limited to 2 and finally to 1. I am happy to report that neither of us indulges in sugary drinks every week. We will have a pop on special occasions or occasionally. It has been a great boon to our health. The surprising thing for a lot of people is that juice can be just as bad. Juice has a lot of sugar. We only give juice to Miss. E as a treat. We prefer to avoid all the extra sugar that juice can bring.
3.) Try to choose whole foods. We all know the rule. The less processed the better. Aim to choose 1-ingredient foods most of the time. 1-ingredient foods are food that are simply what they are. An orange is an orange. A cucumber is a cucumber. A steak is a steak. These foods don't have hidden salt or sugar.
4.) Meal Plan and prep ahead of time. Meal planning isn't my favourite thing to do, but it is so important. When I plan ahead, it is easier to stick to healthy eating. I don't rely on take-out or frozen pizzas because I already know what I am going to make for supper. If you want more information on how to meal plan, please visit my friend Whitney's blog, Come Home For Comfort. She has some great tips for meal planning! I have recently starting prepping veggies to keep in the fridge for handy snacking and it has made such a difference! We reach for what is ready to go, so have healthy options ready to go.
5.) Indulge every once in a while. Everyone needs a treat now and then. It is okay to eat sugar or "junk food" once in a while. It just shouldn't be your go to. Enjoy your treats and then get back to eating a healthy diet. Life is about balance. All or nothing doesn't work.