Learning how to eat healthy can be overwhelming. Various obstacles—lack of time, money or energy—can divert you from achieving your goals. However, with these six simple steps, you can start on your way to healthy eating.
1) Plan Ahead. Make a weekly menu of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack ideas and post it on the fridge so your whole family can see it. (Include paninis or quick stir frys on busy weeknights, and save the roast for a lazy Sunday.) When you post a menu plan, you will always have at least three solid meal ideas each day to help you eat healthy, no matter what unexpected events might occur.
2) Rearrange Your Fridge. Place fruits, vegetables, yogurts and other healthy items at eye level. Store more unhealthy items out of sight so you will not be tempted to indulge.
3) Don’t Restrict Foods. Enjoy sweets and treats occasionally and in moderation. Never avoid certain foods because you’re afraid you may overeat. Practice moderation. For example, eat a single scoop of ice cream instead of a whole bowlful.
4) Focus on Food Groups. Rather than counting calories, focus on getting all your nutrients. Plan your meals to include a whole grain, lean protein and healthy fats. Snack on fruits and vegetables and use them as side dishes with meals. For a personalized meal plan, use the USDA Super Tracker.
5) Set Realistic Goals. When figuring out how to eat healthy, set realistic, achievable goals each week. Instead of trying to change everything at once, start with a goal of eating a vegetable at every meal. In week two, try to drink eight glasses of water each day. Keep track of your successes to keep yourself motivated.
6) Eat Mindfully. Enjoy your food, taste each bite and eat slowly to help avoid overeating. Rate your hunger before and after each meal or snack to help you learn how to recognize your actual hunger levels and identify when you are full. Explore new flavors and spices to add variety to your meals. This will help you enjoy your foods and feel more satisfied.
Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian in private practice at Rebecca Bitzer and Associates. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations for athletes of all ages and activity levels, and is an active member of the Sports Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Visit dietitianindc.blogspot.com for running and recipe updates.