Are you eating in a way that is consistently providing your body with healthy nutrition? Sometimes we tend to get so busy that we don't pay enough attention to what, when, and how we eat our food. Grabbing fast food can add a lot of empty calories in a day, not to mention the likely indigestion you experience. Here are some tried and true strategies to help you keep on track and think about what you are eating.
Make a Plan
Planning something always makes for more success. A good place to start is with the new food pyramid, where you have all the food groups you need to eat for healthy nutrition. All groups are equally important for a balanced diet, and the proportions you eat from each one is key. For weight loss, you want to eat approximately the following:
- 3-4 ounces of whole grains a day
- 3 servings of vegetables
- 2 servings of fresh fruit
- 1 serving from the fish and poultry group (red meat not more than 2 times a week)
- 1-2 servings from the dairy group (non-fat and/or low-fat)
- sparingly from the fats, oils, pasta and sweets groups
Making menus for yourself for each day of the week is a good idea.
Don't just mindlessly stuff food in your mouth that you've barely chewed because you're in a hurry. Slow down, savor each bite you take, and pay attention to the flavor, texture, and temperature. Make a specific time to do nothing but eat. You'll be surprised how fast you'll find the nuances of the food you eat (and the pleasure you can take in eating when you're paying attention to what you're doing). You'll also tend to eat less, because you will have given your body a chance to feel when you've had enough.
We've all heard the saying about not going grocery shopping when you're hungry. That's great advice, but there are a couple of other ways to grocery shop that will help you to buy healthier foods. Get out your weekly menus you've made for yourself, and make your list from the menu. Don't buy foods that aren't on your list (no impulse buying). Also, don't go shopping when you're depressed or emotional; you'll be tempted to buy "comfort" foods, and we all know those tend to be pretty high-calorie foods.
Plan for Eating Out
The best strategy for eating out is to ask for a "to-go" box at the beginning of your meal, and put half of the food in the box. What's left will be about the amount you should be eating. Get in the habit of ordering salads before your main course. That way, you will have quenched your appetite a bit and will not eat so much of the higher-calorie main dish. Finish your meal with a cup of tea rather than dessert. Take a walk after you have finished at a restaurant, and eat dinner early enough where there are 3 or 4 hours before you go to bed.
Try these strategies, and remember to eat fresh, whole foods as much as possible for optimal nutrition and health.