One question that I get all the time is “How do I eat healthier”? Surprisingly it’s not as difficult as you may think. There are a few simple strategies that you can implement…TODAY…to improve your health and wellness. Food is a powerful substance that we often take for granted. So check out my Top 5 list and let me know what you think.
1. Clean Out Your Cupboards
This may not seem obvious at first, but the fact of the matter is that if something’s within reach, you’re more likely to eat it. Think about that candy bowl at the office. If that bowl of pure sugary deliciousness…umm…I mean evil wasn’t there then how many calories (and maybe even cavities) would you save?
A rule of thumb that I go by is to not keep junk food around. Should I get a craving for ice cream, cake, pizza, etc. and I’m willing to get up and leave the house to go and get it, then I allow myself the indulgence.
2. Read Labels
It seems like nowadays you have to be a member of the CSI crew to understand the ingredient list on most of your food. Just take a look at pretty much any packaged food…go ahead…grab something nearby. Do you know what all those ingredients are? Heck…can you pronounce all of them?
Remember the old ice cream commercial (Breyer’s I think) where the little kid tried to read the label of a competing brand and couldn’t? Then he read the Breyer’s and it said: milk, cream, sugar.
We need to get back to basics. If your food has more than a handful of ingredients, then you should consider whether you really should be eating it. Especially if it looks like the components were made in Frankenstein’s lab.
3. Be Mindful When Eating
We live in such a fast-paced, crazy world that it often bleeds into our eating habits. Many of us just inhale our food in-between meetings or classes…not even paying attention to what we’re eating or how it makes us feel. Additionally, we can find ourselves reaching for food when we’re bored, watching TV, etc. and we’re not even truly hungry!
By taking time to slow down and really taking in the moment, we can determine if we’re truly hungry and if so what we’re about to eat. If what we eat makes us feel crummy then we can identify it and avoid it next time. However, if we’re flying through life and just shoving stuff down our throats for the sake of “eating” then we’re doing ourselves a great disservice. The body knows what it needs and will tell you if you simply stop…breathe and listen.
4. Prepare More At Home
Let’s face it…some of us like to cook and others wouldn’t know a turkey baster from a spatula and that’s ok. Both sides of the battlefield can still implement this one. What it boils down to (pun intended) is that we need to come up with a game plan. We all have busy lives and frankly no matter how much one loves to cook, it’s often difficult to summon up the energy after a long day at work. So what do we do? We plan ahead!
Something that I like to do is to prepare all my meals for the week on Sunday. I cook for a couple of hours and then refrigerate/freeze the food until I’m ready to use it. That way I don’t have to think about what I want to prepare…do I have the ingredients…do I really have the energy to put forth…etc?
On the flip side, I know that some people can’t stand “leftovers”…why I don’t know but to each their own. In that case, plan your menu out ahead of time. Knowing that you’re going to have “x” on Monday, “y” on Tuesday, and so forth makes it easier to execute when the time comes. You can ensure that you have the ingredients and you don’t have to waste extra energy on deciding what to make…that part’s already done.
OK…so I didn’t forget about the group of non-kitchen goers. You can still take part in this fun. I would suggest learning the basics. I’m not saying you need to be ready for the next Top Chef but having the essentials down can open up a lot of options for you. Find a friend who loves to cook and make a day out of it OR find a cooking class at your local community college. Some stores like William Sonoma offer cooking classes. What’s great about cooking (versus baking) is that you don’t always have to be exact with measurements, ingredients, etc. You can play around to find what works best for your style and taste. Have fun with it!
5. Eat Whole (Real) Foods
This is actually very easy to understand and implement. Food should be as close to their natural state as possible (picked from the ground, tree, or ocean). It should be something that your Grandma would recognize. When you go to the produce section of the grocery store, for the most part, you’re staring at a plethora of whole foods.
When we eat whole foods something amazing happens. Our bodies actually recognize what we’re consuming as food and know what to do with it! The same can’t be said for artificial ingredients. Often times our body will launch an attack on the things we eat, as it has no idea what is being circulated through our bodies.
If you only picked one of these suggestions to implement it would be to eat WHOLE FOODS. This one “strategy” changes the game and I’m confident that you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find how much better you feel from the inside out!
So there you have it…please let me know your thoughts and feel free to share with anyone you know could benefit from the information.
To your health!