9 Hacks for Healthy Eating

21 03 2016

I'm Blogging National Nutrition Month

Are you tired of eating fast food and being unprepared? Want to eat healthier, but don’t know where to start? Well, lucky for you, March is National Nutrition Month! This is a great time to take a cold, hard look at what you are eating and try to make things a little better! We have come up with 9 keys to eating healthier (and feeling better!), so start with number one and work your way through the list.

  • Keep it simple! Instead of diving into a restrictive diet you won’t be able to live with, make it easy for yourself. “Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants”, says Michael Pollan. Make 1/2 of your plate colorful vegetables and fruit. Balance out your plate with high quality protein like lean poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, beans and legumes, as well as whole grains or starchy veggies such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or sweet potatoes. Finish it off with heart healthy fats like avocado, nuts and olive oil.
  • Control your environment: If the Oreos call you from the cabinet, or you can’t keep your hands out of the chip bag, keep them out of the house! There is no doubt that the visible environment influences our food choices. Set yourself up for success by keeping the junk food out, and healthy snacks in plain view.
  • Stockpile healthy snacks: Make sure to keep healthy snacks on hand wherever you are. Fruit, nuts, and whole grain cereals are convenient grab and go’s. If you have a cooler bag, try single serve Greek yogurt or string cheese. Don’t run the tank too low and end up “hangry”!
  • Make the “swap”: Swap out calorie dense foods for nutrient rich ones that are high in nutrition and low in calories. Swap your Frosted Flakes for whole grain oats, your French fries for a baked sweet potato, your bacon cheeseburger for a turkey burger, and your creamy coleslaw for salad greens with vinaigrette. These swaps can save you calories and put high octane nutrition in your tank.
  • Plan your meals in advance (and don’t forget the leftovers!): Take time to make a game plan for your week. Plan out a few dinner meals, and make sure to plan at least 1 leftover night. Leftovers can be used to make completely new dishes, or simply eaten as is. Plan some basic foods to keep on hand for breakfast, lunch and snacks. These are more routine and can be simple. Doing some preparation ahead of time (like chopping veggies or browning meat), or using kitchen gadgets like your crock pot, save time and make meal prep a breeze.
  • Grocery shop: These are dirty words to some people, but, the fact is, we are not all farmers! Most of us have to shop for food if we want to eat, so make this part of your weekly routine. Plan your meals, write your list, and head to the market. Shop the perimeter of the store for most of your whole foods like fresh produce, meat, and dairy. Fill in with necessities from the middle like whole grains, frozen and canned produce, and healthy oils, herbs and spices.
  • Don’t skip meals: People who eat regularly have more energy and tend to manage their weight better than those who ignore their hunger and wait all day to eat. Allow yourself to get over-hungry and you will likely be eating anything that isn’t nailed down by dinner time.And, timing of meals does seem to matter. Research has shown that those who eat most of their calories earlier in the day have an easier time with weight management than those who eat most of their calories in the evening.
  • Get your sleep! You might think, “We are talking about food here, right?”. Yep. Sleep deprivation alters hunger and satiety hormones which can cause us to eat more. Being exhausted leaves us searching for energy, and often leads to poor choices (lots of sugar and caffeine). Being awake longer also gives us more time to be hungry and nosh when we should be sleeping.
  • De-stress: Find healthy ways to manage stress. Being stressed out increases cortisol (that nasty stress hormone) levels which in turn can make it more difficult to manage your weight. “Stress-eaters” are plentiful, meaning they go straight to comfort foods when the feel overwhelmed. Find other ways to cope. Take on less, get help with daily tasks, take breaks to decompress. If you can’t, try exercise, meditation, listen to music, take a bubble bath. There are plenty of ways to reduce stress without turning to unhealthy foods for relief.

Tell us your best hacks for eating healthier, and how you are planning to savor the flavor of eating right!

Cathy head shot Cathy Shaw is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian for the PEIA Weight Management Program




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