Creating Habits that Create Health

Can you believe it?  The New Year is in full swing.  During this time time of year people everywhere set goals, make resolutions and are excited about the adventures that await them!

If your a goal setter but don’t spend some time planning your strategy to achieve the goals, the excitement of the new year may already be wearing off and those resolutions have all but disappeared.

According to TIME magazine, “Eat Healthier” and “Get Fit” are always on the top ten list of set and broken resolutions. Instead of setting such a broad goal that can seem overwhelming set smaller goals that will become habits that help create what you want in your life.

Just a couple of week ago I was talking with a client that needed to make some pretty big changes in her diet because of the state of her health.  Sometimes when I work with clients that need to make drastic changes they are resistant and have many excuses and reasons why they can’t make those changes.  This client was different, she was ready and willing to do whatever she needed to do to improve her health and she said five words that were so empowering, “If not now than when?”

If not now than when?  To me that means…Today is the Day!

6 Tips for Eating Healthy
and Sticking to It

Tip 1: Set yourself up for success!

Make a plan to begin with a number of small, manageable steps rather than one big drastic change. If you approach the changes gradually and with commitment, you will have a healthy diet sooner than you think.

  1. Simplify. Instead of being overly concerned with the “how”, think of the “what” and focus on color, variety, and freshness. Focus on finding foods you love and easy recipes that incorporate fresh ingredients. Gradually, your diet will become healthier and more delicious.
  2. Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad (full of different color vegetables) with dressing made from scratch to your diet once a day.
  3. Every change you make to improve your diet matters. You don’t have to be perfect right now!  Don’t let your missteps derail you—every healthy food choice you make counts.

Tip 2: Remember to use balance and moderation.

We all need a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to sustain a healthy body.  Using moderation and keeping track of what you eat and how you feel will help you be successful.

  1. Don’t think of certain foods as “off-limits.” When you ban certain foods or food groups, it is natural to want those foods more, and than feel like a failure if you give in to temptation.  If you are drawn towards sweet, salty, or unhealthy foods, start by reducing portion sizes and not eating them as often. Later you may find yourself craving them less or thinking of them as only occasional indulgences.
  2. Keep Healthy Foods Visible and accessible.  Place the foods you want your family to eat more of within easy reach in the pantry or refrigerator.   Make fruits and veggies an easy grab and go food, by pre-washing and cutting them.
  3. Be a good gate-keeper.  Most homes have a “nutritional gatekeeper” that’s the person who controls 75 percent of the food eaten by everyone else.  This is the person who chooses food, buys it, and prepares it. If that’s you, use your power for good!

Tip 3: Fill up on colorful fruits and vegetables. 

Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet. They are low in calories and nutrient dense, which means they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber.  Try to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day and with every meal—the brighter the better. Colorful, deeply colored fruits and vegetables contain higher concentrations of nutrients and different colors provide different benefits, so eat a variety. The minimum daily recommendation of fruits and vegetables is five servings each day.

  1. Branch out beyond green lettuce. Spinach, kale, chard, broccoli, and Nappa cabbage are just a few of the options—all packed with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K.
  2. Naturally sweet vegetables—such as carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, bell-peppers, onions, and squash will add healthy sweetness to your meals and reduce your cravings for other sweets.
  3. Fruit is a tasty and satisfying way to fill up on fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. The sweetness of fruit can satisfy a sweet craving and nourish your body at the same time.

Tip 4: Eat healthy carbohydrates and a variety of grains.

Choose healthy carbohydrates and fiber sources. In addition to being delicious and satisfying, many studies have shown that people who eat more whole grains tend to have a healthier heart.

  1. Healthy Carbohydrates include grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Healthy carbohydrates are digested slowly, helping you feel full longer and keeping blood sugar levels stable.
  2. Unhealthy Carbohydrates are foods that are made with white flour, refined sugar, and overly processed grains that have been stripped of bran, fiber, and essential nutrients. These types of carbohydrates digest quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar levels and energy.
  3. Include a variety of grains in your diet by adding in rice- in all it’s many varieties (basmati, jasmine, wild, short and long grain, etc.), millet, oats, buckwheat and quinoa. All of these can be ground into flour which can add variety to baked goods.  Experiment with different grains to find your favorites.  Keep in mind that some people don’t tollerate grains well, especially those that contain gluten.  Make note of how grains in general make you feel.  Symptoms could manifest in physical, mental and even emotional ways.

Tip 5: Enjoy healthy fats.

Good sources of healthy fat are needed to nourish your brain, heart, and cells, as well as your hair, skin, and nails.  Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats called EPA and DHA are particularly important and can reduce cardiovascular disease, improve your mood, help prevent dementia, and keep you feeling full and satisfied.

  1. Coconut oil is the ideal choice for all types of cooking—in fact, it’s the only oil stable enough to resist high heat-induced damage. Use it in place of butter, olive oil and vegetable oil.  Coconut Oil is one of the healthiest fats to consume.  Many of the health benefits include: Improved digestive function, immune system support, promotes healing and fights inflammation.
  2. Stock up on raw nuts and seeds.  These can be roasted over low heat, stored for quick on the go snacks or sprinkled into hot cereal and salads.
  3. Include more avocados in your diet.   Add them to smoothies for an extra creamy texture, toss into salads, mix into dips, add into a bowl of brown rice or quinoa, make a tasty and satisfying dessert.

Tip 6: Put protein in perspective.

Protein gives us the energy to get up and go—and keep going. Protein in food is broken down into the 20 amino acids that are the body’s basic building blocks for growth and energy, and essential for maintaining cells, tissues, and organs. A lack of protein in our diet can slow growth, reduce muscle mass, lower immunity, and weaken the heart and respiratory system. Protein is particularly important for children, whose bodies are growing and changing daily.

  1. Try different types of protein. Whether or not you are a vegetarian, trying different protein sources—such as beans, nuts, seeds and legumes will open up new options for healthy mealtimes.
  2. Focus on quality sources of protein: buy meat and eggs that are grass fed/free range and are free from hormones and antibiotics.
  3. Downsize your portions of protein. Many people eat too much protein. Try to move away from protein being the center of your meal. Focus on equal servings of protein, whole grains, and vegetables.
What do you do to create or stick with healthy eating habits?

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