Eating healthy is not just a simple yearly resolution, it should be a commitment for life! Parents that eat healthy inspire kids to be conscious about food quality versus quantity. To set yourself up for success, think about planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps. If you approach the changes gradually, you will have a healthy diet. Here are a few wonderful tips to keep that commitment!
- Simplify. Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories or measuring portion sizes, think of your diet in terms of color, variety and freshness. Focus on finding foods you love and easy recipes that incorporate a few fresh ingredients.
- Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Make small steps, like adding a salad (full of different color vegetables) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking. As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet. Not every food has to be "perfect". If you miss out on any food group one day, make up for it the next. Your food choices over several days should fit together into a healthy pattern.
- Every change you make to improve your diet matters. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to completely eliminate foods you enjoy to have a healthy diet. The long term goal is to feel good, have more energy and reduce the risk of cancer and disease. Don’t let your missteps derail you, every healthy food choice you make counts. Most people eat for pleasure as well as nutrition. If your favorite foods are high in fat, salt or sugar, the key is moderating how much of these foods you eat.
- Enjoy plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Look through cookbooks for tasty ways to prepare unfamiliar foods and enjoy the pleasure of experimenting.
- Eat moderate portions. If you keep portion sizes reasonable, it's easier to eat the foods you want and stay healthy.
- Eat regular meals. Skipping meals can lead to out-of-control hunger, often resulting in overeating. When you're very hungry, it's also tempting to forget about good nutrition.
- Know your diet pitfalls. To improve your eating habits, you first have to know what's wrong with them. Write down everything you eat for three days.
- Keep your pantry stocked with quality ingredients. Having whole grains, beans, pasta, extra virgin olive oil, dried herbs and quality spices available is half way there!
If you eat out often, here is a list of helpful tips from MyPyramid.org:
- As a beverage choice, ask for water (a good sparkling water is wonderful!) or order fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, or other drinks without added sugars.
- Ask for whole wheat bread for sandwiches.
- In a restaurant, start your meal with a salad packed with veggies, to help control hunger and feel satisfied sooner. Choose dishes that come with vegetables.
- Ask for salad dressing to be served on the side. Then use only as much as you want.
- Choose a “small” or “medium” portion. This includes main dishes, side dishes, and beverages. If portions are still big, share or take some home. Resign from the “clean your plate club” – when you’ve eaten enough, leave the rest.
- Order an item from the menu instead of heading for the “all-you-can-eat” buffet.
- On long commutes or shopping trips, pack some fresh fruit, cut-up vegetables, low-fat string cheese sticks, or a handful of unsalted nuts to help you avoid stopping for sweet or fatty snacks.