Here are some tips for you and your significant other to make healthy lifestyle changes together.
1. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
When trying to stick to making healthy changes as a couple, it is important for you both to limit bringing in unhealthy foods including chips, cookies, soda, etc. If junk foods are out of sight, you'll be less likely to splurge on them making it easier to stay on track. There are many ways to swap out those less healthy snacks for better options. Air popped popcorn can make a great substitute for chips and no-sugar-added dried fruit can help cure any sweet tooth.
2. Create a Couple's Grocery List and Meal Plan
Having healthy foods at home sets the foundation for healthy eating. To make sure healthy food is available, set a time each week to prepare your weekly grocery list together. This makes for a ideal time to organize the meals you would like to prepare for the week ahead. Your grocery list should include produce that you both enjoy, lean proteins and whole grains. When planning recipes, include ingredients you both like so that you aren't having to prepare more than one meal at a time.
3. Make a New Date Night
As a couple, eating out at restaurants can become a pretty common date night. The problem is that restaurant meals can often have hidden calories and be served in large portions. A great solution is getting creative with cooking in your own home. Cooking at home allows you to control your ingredients, limiting excess fat and salt. It also can serve as a fun way to bond in the kitchen. You can also incorporate different activities for date night versus having dinners out. Bowling, hiking or seeing a movie are fun non-food related activities.
4. Turn Off the TV When Eating
It is easy to enjoy a movie while munching on popcorn or even sit in front of the television while eating your nightly dinner, but those habits might not be so healthy. When you are watching television while eating, you are often distracted. This can lead to overeating since it is easy not to pay attention to when you are full, but when the food on your plate is finished. Try enjoying dinner time at the table together without any distractions.
5. Plate Out Your Portions
Living together can sometimes create a less formal environment. You can dip straight into the pot for a few bites of your dinner or pick at foods while around the house. Be sure to plate out your food, even if just for a snack. By plating foods out, it provides a better estimate of how much you are eating. The focus of your plate should be half vegetables. These fiber rich veggies can fill you up without providing calorie overload.
6. Don't Throw in the Towel
If you do splurge more than intended, just remember that you can start back fresh the next meal. If you are both struggling with motivation, continue to remind each other why you want to lead a healthy lifestyle and get right back on it. You have each other to lean on for support and that is a key to success.
Kristen Bourque, RD, LD has been writing health-related articles since 2000. Her nutrition articles and recipes have been featured in "Today's Dietitian" as well as the Canadian magazine "Glow". Kristen combines her love of nutrition with cooking on her personal blog, Swanky Dietitian.