Brandi, selected from Diets in Review November 1, 2012
Need motivation to finally start eating healthy? Then mark your calendar for November 7, National Eating Healthy Day, as a starting point to make better food choices, rely less on processed foods, eat more fresh fruits and veggies, and influence your life for the better.
The day is sponsored by the American Heart Association as part of their mission to improve the cardiovascular health of Americans 20 percent by 2020. Their fourth annual Healthy Eating Day focuses on making healthy changes in the workplace, but encourages everyone to get involved.
Here are 7 easy ways to eat healthier beginning November 7th:
1. Replace just one unwholesome snack with something healthier
Eat an apple, pack some baby carrots in your lunchbox, or munch on almonds instead of chips – it doesn’t matter, just start making healthy swaps a daily practice. You’ll feel more satisfied and energized as well as giving your body vital nutrients.
2. Stop thinking of food as entertainment
This may sound strange, but we all do it. Food is rarely just something to stave off hunger, we eat because we’re bored, want something to do with friends, are stressed, celebrate a promotion or farewell, you name it. Making small excuses for why you’re eating, though, adds up to a big intake of unneeded calories by the end of the week. Be more mindful about every bite.
3. Start thinking about the holidays now
Before you’re tempted with a parade of treats at work, huge family dinners, and finger foods galore, decide how you’ll have a festive Thanksgiving and Christmas while managing not to feel like a glutton come January. One serving size of meat is the size of a deck of cards, casseroles are best kept to spoonful portions, and desserts can be sampled with just as much enjoyment as a full serving would provide.
4. Nix the soda
This is common sense, but it really needs to be taken to heart by more people: soft drinks are not good beverage choices, especially on a daily basis. They raise your risk of stroke, heart attacks, obesity, high blood pressure, kidney damage, and more, and diet sodas are even worse than regular. Sugary juice drinks and sports drinks should also be severely limited – make water your usual choice instead. There’s a reason New York City is banning the stuff!
5. Swap out fridge and pantry staples
Maybe you’ve sworn you hate the taste of skim milk or zero trans fat margarine, but making changes like these really isn’t all that difficult. Start with baby steps, like drinking a mixture of 3/4 whole milk and 1/4 skim milk, then 1/2 and 1/2, and so on, until you hardly notice the difference. Choose spinach or kale over iceberg lettuce for salads, and make your own healthy, more flavorful dressing instead of using the highly processed supermarket ones. There’s tons of exchanges like this that can be done relatively painlessly.
6. Slow down and eat at home
Supersize Me got it right, eating fast food on a regular basis will have disastrous effects on your health. Plan your meals ahead and you won’t be too busy to cook. This will save money, ensure quality family time, and increase your well-being.
7. Find a balance of variety and routine
Both routines and variety should have a place in your diet. Maybe you can commit to eating something similar every day, or at least most days, for a certain meal, like oatmeal and fruit for breakfasts or a green smoothie every lunch. Variety is needed to ensure you’re getting a proper balance of nutrients, so aim for colorful plates of each food group. At the store, pick new fruits and veggies each week along with your staples, and commit to using them creatively in meals.