I try my best to eat as clean as I can and exercise as much as possible without getting obsessive. In a binge-eat, binge-drink society, the bottom line is – it’s tough. Although I’ve been learning about nutrition for several years now, it’s still a daily journey establishing that healthy balance we all seek. The sweet spot of clean food and an active body. We get thrown off on holidays, or during exams, breakups, etc. etc. So it’s always good to remind yourself – I’m trying, and that is good enough.
If you feel like shifting your health habits is an overwhelming task – here are a few easy tasks to get you started.
#1. Stock Your Pantry
One of the biggest things that derails healthy eating habits is feeling too tired or overwhelmed to grocery shop. If you stock your pantry with healthy grains, beans, nuts and seeds, stocks, spices, etc…you’ll always have the building blocks for a healthy meal – and you can just grocery shop for fresh produce and proteins. You might have to put a little extra $ in upfront – but you’ll save $ in the long run from wasted food. And all of your dried goods are pretty cheap (beans, pasta, rice, oats)!
Tip: Check out http://www.thrivemarket.com – you can order your healthy dried goods at a discounted price. It’s like if Costco and Whole Foods got married.
#2. Vegetables. Vegetables. Vegetables.
Vegetables are your best friend. If you make ONE change in your diet, it should be to add more vegetables. Veggies are stocked with all of the good stuff; protein, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fiber, etc., and hardly any of the “bad stuff” – saturated fats, cholesterol, and sugars that make us sick and overweight. If you up your vegetable intake – I can almost guarantee you’ll feel better.
Tip: “Shift the Ratio” – If you’re making pasta with cauliflower and spinach, double the veggies and cut the amount of pasta in half. If you’re making an omelet, use one less egg and throw in extra spinach and peppers.
#3. Less Sugar
Sugar is worse for your body than you probably realize – and there is sugar in EVERYTHING processed. If you are used to buying boxed/packaged foods and beverages, you’re likely consuming a seriously high amount of sugar. Oftentimes, we associate sugar with just desserts, adding white sugar into your coffee, or too much soda… but we don’t realize how much added sugar is in everyday things that we eat; granola/cereal, yogurt, dressings/sauces, anything reduced fat – even milk!
Best way to avoid it? Whole foods.
Tip: You may not realize your body has become addicted to sugar. If you find yourself craving it, boost your diet with natural sugars from fruits, and vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, and peppers.
#4. Have a Cheat Meal, Not a Cheat Day
My favorite saying that helps me with this is “Just because you dropped your phone and cracked your screen, doesn’t mean you have to continue to smash it into bits”… So true, and relates to cheat-days or binge eating. If you let yourself eat a ridiculous and indulgent brunch, it’s easy to say “Eh, whatever. Today is ruined, I’ll start again Monday.”
Try to break that habit. It’s the easiest way to get off track. The baby step is to reduce the cheat day to the cheat meal.
Tip: If you’re in a “binge-eating” mood… grab something to snack on that you can eat a lot of without consuming many calories; rice cakes, homemade popcorn, or veggies.
#5. “Crowd Out”
This is my favorite one, because it’s enjoyable and it’s not a restriction! The idea is, don’t focus on what you CAN’T eat… focus on what you like and that makes your body feel good, and EAT MORE of that. If you add tons of clean whole foods into your diet, you won’t have the time or appetite for much of the other stuff! I like to bring cucumbers, carrots and almonds to work with me everyday to snack on. That way I don’t have the cravings for junky food around lunchtime.