Looking to start off 2019 focusing on a healthier way of eating? Here are five ways to get started.
Eat “real” food. There are dozens of diet/meal plans out there, and it can be very confusing trying to pick the right one for you. Let me make this really simple by asking this question: What do all these diet plans have in common? They all teach you to stop eating highly processed pre-packaged foods and encourage eating “real” food. What is real food? Anything you can pick off a tree, a bush or shrub, dig out of the ground, kill with your bare hands, or fish out of the ocean. If the food you choose is in one of these categories, and your body doesn’t have a nasty reaction to it, then eat it.
Be aware. Pay attention to how food makes you feel when you eat it. Bloating, gas and heartburn are not normal ways for your body to react to food. If you have this type of reaction to a food (even a healthy food) STOP eating it.
Track your food. Notice I didn’t say track your calories. While calories can matter if your goal is weight loss, what is most important is to track if you are eating nutrient-dense food for health benefits and satiety. You can stay under calories eating a bunch of junk food, but your body, mind and soul will suffer from fatigue, hunger and more if you are not eating food with nutritional value. MyFitnessPal is a great app for tracking food. Pay attention to the macronutrient goals (carbs, fat, protein) in addition to the sugar and sodium contents.
Read ingredient labels. Most people know how to read the nutrition facts, which can provide you with some information, but not the most pertinent information, which is … am I eating food? The ingredients determine if you are eating real food or not. Learn more about the ingredients you are putting in your body by using the Fooducate app.
Create healthy environments. There are many hidden triggers all around us that will sabotage healthy eating habits, so create environments at home and work that will set you up for success. It is much easier to change your environment than your mind.
• Remove or place tempting foods in hard-to-reach spots and put healthier options at eye level in the pantry or refrigerator.
• Moving from a 12-inch to a 10-inch dinner plate leads people to serve and eat 22 percent less.
• Do not eat directly from the package. Serve yourself a portion and put the package away.
• In restaurants, choose half portions, or ask for the to-go box ahead of your meal, then portion half to take home with you.
– Health coach Andrea Mathis