Winning at nutrition depends upon more than just what you eat and drink. It also depends upon the habits and decisions that lead up to each meal, snack, or eating extravaganza. Many roads lead to long term success with nutrition, especially when your goal is to lose weight, but there are key building blocks of any nutrition plan.
Here is my list of seven important areas to factor into your healthy eating.
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Eat whole, unprocessed foods and think rainbow when it comes to fruits and vegetables
- Whole, unprocessed foods are your best choice. Think of “whole” as being as close to a food’s natural form as possible, e.g. a fresh apple is more whole than apple juice.
- Eat the rainbow! For fruits and vegetables, eat a variety of colors to ensure you are getting the healthiest mixture of nutrients.
- When it comes to beverages, think calorie free! Beverages are easy traps for unwanted and unnecessary calories.
- Healthy meals are a combination of lean protein, vegetables, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates such as fruits, legumes, and whole grains.
- Experiment with the variety of food and find which works best for you. Be sure to read labels and know as much about your food as possible.
Eat slowly and mindfully
- The speed at which you eat has a significant impact to whether you overeat or not.
- Eating slowly and mindfully gives you the best chance to be satisfied with your meals and for your body to realize when your brain has given it a cue that it is full.
Eat at a place where eating is your sole focus
- One of the best ways to slow down and enjoy your food is to find a place where you can eat with no or very few distractions.
- For most people this is eating at a table rather than in their car, at their desk, or standing at the kitchen counter
- Put your smart phone away, don’t read and respond to emails, and leave the books, magazines, or newspaper until you have finished eating.
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Eat when you are hungry
- Teaching yourself to eat when you are hungry is an essential skill to master.
- Many of us eat because we are stressed, bored, or need a break from whatever we are doing at the moment. Or we eat because the clock says it is meal time.
- If you are eating for another reason than hunger, pause for a few moments – maybe take 3 slow breaths – and identify what you really need at that moment.
Plan and prep your meals ahead of time
- The busier your life the more important planning and prepping your meals.
- Keep your meal plan simple. Develop your set of healthy go to meals that you can prepare with ease. Expand from there if you desire more variety.
- Prep your meats, vegetables, and fruits ahead of time. For example, cook several chicken breasts at a time. Chop your vegetables and fruits at the beginning of the week and store in the refrigerator.
Keep your physical and mental stress at your “sweet spot”
- Mental and physical stress can affect how we eat and what we eat. And most of us have a sweet spot where we feel invigorated and extremely productive. Finding that spot is an important nutritional strategy.
- Going beyond our sweet spot starts to create negative stress in our bodies and minds. When stressed at this level, we are more apt to act upon our entrenched nutritional habits. For most people that means reaching for convenient or comfort foods, which tend not to be the most nutritious.
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Create a positive inner world
- I tend to believe that we eat in a way that is consistent with our inner world. If we are stressed and anxious on the inside, food that matches those feelings is what we search out.
- If we feel and hold healthy beliefs about life and ourselves, then we are more likely to reach for healthy and nutritious food.
- Building an awareness of our internal energy and learning to shift it towards the positive can be a helpful nutrition tool.