As the saying goes, “You are what you eat” and I couldn’t agree more with that statement. What we choose to eat each day not only impacts our overall health and well being but also influences our mood, energy levels, performance, longevity, and our quality of life. I don’t like labeling anything as “common sense” because I recognize that what is common to one might not be common to another but I think most people would agree that they know the benefits of making healthier dietary choices yet so many people don’t consciously follow through with it. I understand that food should taste good but why can’t it be both tasty and healthy? Given the choice, I tell people that I will always choose to eat something based on the health value over how good it tastes because the long term effects of eating the right foods outweigh the instant gratification of how good something tastes at that present moment. However, as I just mentioned, you can still choose to eat things that you love to eat and that are healthy at the same time. You can also treat yourself every so often to really delicious and decadent foods within moderation. If you currently don’t have the best eating habits, the good news is that there is always room for change and that change can start after reading this blog or whenever your mind is firmly set to make the changes that are needed to adapt healthier eating habits into your lifestyle.
Stock Up on Healthier Foods – I always say, out of sight, out of mind and this most certainly applies to food too. I like to have a concrete grocery shopping list before I set out to the supermarket so that I know exactly what I’m looking for and keep the list filled with both clean and organic foods. I try to avoid buying unhealthy foods and snacks because if I have access to them in the comfort of my home, then they are in sight which will make it more tempting to want to eat them. Of course it is okay to have some treats but I recommend finding healthier alternatives or to buy them less frequently so that the few times that you buy them, it is truly a once in a while treat.
Meal Prep Each Week – When you take the time to meal prep and plan out your daily meals, this allows you to be in control of what you eat in terms of the type of meal and the portion size. It is smart to buy containers and fill them up accordingly with a good healthy mix of foods and nutrients. If you are stuck with coming up with healthy meal ideas, you can easily research what others make through a google search or places like Pinterest and Instagram have plenty of resources to use as a guide.
Eat Out Less Often – Even though many restaurants provide healthier meal options on their menus nowadays, it is still hard to know how healthy the meal truly is. There is often a ton of hidden fats, sugar, and other unhealthy things added to make the food taste extra good but obviously aren’t good for you, especially when eaten in excess. For example, an innocent salad can end up having a lot junk in it by the time all the fixings and dressing are added on top. My point is that meals that appear to be healthy on the surface might not end up being as wholesome as you think. If you cook more at home, then at least you know the ingredients and what exactly you are eating as opposed to a restaurant where you are unsure of what the meal actually consists of.
Learn How to Study a Food Label – It is important to familiarize yourself with food labels and compare them when you are shopping for products. For example, it is beneficial knowing the serving size because although it might come in a single bag, you cannot assume that it is one serving. Other areas that I like to pay attention to are the actual ingredient list to see if the ingredients are mostly natural with little additives and artificial ingredients along with the amount of sugar. There are many foods that you would not think have a lot of sugar but actually do which is why it is good to look at how many grams of sugar are in a serving. In terms of the calorie count, I am not as concerned with this number because sometimes high quality foods are higher in calories whereas foods marketed as “low calorie foods” are not necessarily as nutritious as they want consumers to think they are and tend to be created with a lot of fillers and unhealthy ingredients.
Track What You Eat – Often I emphasize the importance of tracking things down which helps by literally keeping you on track but most importantly by making you stay accountable for your actions which in this case is monitoring your food choices. Even someone like myself who already prioritizes living a healthy lifestyle and is very disciplined can benefit from tracking what I eat. I find that when I take the time to list what I eat each day, I am more aware of what I’m eating along with how much. This practice personally helps me stay focused and mindful about making healthy choices each and everyday! (Trust me, it works)!