It’s a new year which means your social media feeds are covered in quotes telling you new beginnings are on the horizon. One of the most popular new year’s goals is better health. We all know healthy eating will keep our minds and bodies feeling great, but with busy schedules and distracted minds, these well-intended desires often slowly fall by the wayside. When looking to improve eating habits, it’s pivotal to refrain from an “all or nothing” mindset, but how?
These tips can help you reset your mind and transform your nutrition goals from fast-burning fad to a healthy lifestyle.
1. Categorize your food choices as “always” and “sometimes.” Great news! You don’t have to give up the pizza and ice cream that we all love dearly — there’s room for all foods in a healthy lifestyle. You can accomplish this by labeling the guilty pleasures as “sometimes” foods to balance with your “always” foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It’s not about restricting the items you love, it’s about balancing with the foods you need.
2. Think about what to add rather than what to take away. We all love grandma’s homemade casseroles filled with butter and cheese. Get creative, and think about how you could add some vegetables or whole grains to it to keep the integrity of the original meal while adding key nutrients. One of my favorites is to add onions, carrots and basil to chicken noodle casserole!
3. Mix something new with something you already like. Making swaps can be scary, so ease yourself into it. If you love white rice, think about making meals with 1/2 white rice and 1/2 brown rice so you can get used to the taste of the fiber-packed and nutrient-dense version. You don’t have to make these changes overnight. It’s a process of small steps.
4. Eat vegetables or fruit first. If you’re anything like me, you may struggle to eat the healthier foods when the other foods on your plate are so tasty. At a nice steak restaurant, if I eat my steak first, I will avoid the vegetables altogether. Contrarily, if I eat the side of vegetables before diving into the steak, I get my nutrients and I save the best taste for last!
5. Add your own salt and sugar versus buying foods with them already in it. Salted butter, brown sugar oatmeal and many more foods come with an excessive amount of added sodium and sugars. Instead, get the plain versions and add your own sweetness and saltiness to them. Salt and sugar themselves are not the problem — our bodies actually need them to function properly. It’s the overabundance that causes undesired high blood pressure and unhealthy weight gain.
Eating healthy doesn’t mean eating salad for every meal. Redefine your approach and get creative with food. It can empower your mind and nourish your body. Here’s to taking small steps that make lasting impacts on our health and nutrition!