If you’re currently not eating a balanced, healthy diet, it can be challenging to start.
However, healthy eating along with some form of exercise regularly is very important for maintaining a good bodily function and goes a long way towards living a disease-free life.
If you struggle with healthy eating, then you know that breaking unhealthy habits can be the most difficult part of the process. Sometimes we can be creatures of habit.
In my own journey before I became really conscious of my eating patterns, I had a bad habit in my rush with early morning commutes of stopping at a McDonald's on my way to work and grabbing a blueberry muffin alongside with a coffee with cream and a couple of packets of sugar.(The truth was I was consuming cake for breakfast.) This is alright in moderation, but as a daily habit, it is bad as it is void of nutrients. It would taste good going down, but it would happen without fail that I would be hungry within 2 hours reaching for something else. The reason being is that it was mostly carbs with no real protein or fiber or as they say "empty" calories!
I'm sure some of you can relate. It's not that we can't enjoy certain foods, but when we need to nourish our bodies, we need to choose foods that will sustain us for hours without feeling deprived and should energize us.
One thing to keep in mind is that preparation is a major key in maintaining a new healthy way of eating. You must take into consideration your schedule for meals.
If you often eat in a rushed hurry (as in my example) at odd times of the day, you are probably more inclined to grab a rushed meal which will probably do more harm than good. So plan ahead!
Instead of grabbing fast food, do some food prep ahead of time and bring a bagged lunch to work, such as a healthy wrap and some fresh fruit and vegetables. Remember not to forget your evening meal, a simple plan to have a meal ready before you get home would be ideal. Slow cookers have become my friend at times, so this could be an option for you also if you may be too tired to prepare something in the evening. You can keep it simple too by just eating salads for dinner with protein added that will nourish you without too much hassle.
A great first step when you want to start eating your way to a healthy lifestyle is to rid your home of all temptations that will make you weak from following better eating habits. Ideally it would be a wise to keep junk foods and beverages to a minimum out of your house so as not be tempted to snack on during the day.
If you’re worried about getting hungry, drink plenty of water, between meals and keep healthy snacks like hummus with carrot sticks, fresh whole fruit, nuts and seeds to have on hand. When you start eating better, your body will naturally not crave the bad stuff as much previously. However, eating healthy is a lifestyle that needs to be sustainable, so if you cannot give up on sweets, try keeping something tiny on hand like small dark chocolates individually wrapped. Eating a few, (emphasis on few) of these won’t ruin your healthy eating habits but also will give you that little sugary fix you may crave from time to time.
Another great step to healthy eating habits when you’re first starting the process, is to take a few moments to learn what foods are the healthiest for you and how they work within YOUR body. Most people understand that fruits, vegetables, lean proteins including plant based are good for you, but few people understand why. The key is learning about nutrients. When you understand how specific nutrients work and why you need them, it becomes more reasonable for you to make healthier choices for your body. Knowledge really is power!
Start with baby steps and remember as long as you are making additional new healthy eating habits, its all good. Even if you only replace one soda a day with a glass of water, you are really improving your calorie intake. If you eat fast food every day for lunch, try replacing that half of the time with better quality foods. When you start by taking small steps you aren’t cutting out all of the foods you love all at once.
By taking your time to learn about your eating habits and slowly replacing them with better meals, by taking the time to learn and understand why you should be doing that and making the necessary changes in an orderly fashion, you will feel much better within yourself physically, mentally and emotionally and well on the road to becoming as healthy as you can be.
Eat Good! Look Good! Feel Good!
Vanessa LaBranche/Chef Instructor-Culinary Educator