Shifting your thoughts on nutrition for 2008
Forty to 45 per cent of adults make one or more resolutions each year. We have good intentions but we often find that our focus fades quickly. Before you set your 2008 nutrition resolutions, here are some things to consider.
The single most important thing you can do to kick-start your health for 2008 is to eat real food. Real food is the stuff that grows in the ground, is picked off a tree, or does not come in a package with a list of 30 ingredients with words you can’t pronounce.
As a general rule of thumb, the shorter and more recognizable the ingredients list is on a label, the better.
It is estimated that there are more than 20,000 new packaged food and beverages released into the marketplace each year. We keep buying into the marketing of highly processed packaged foods and are getting more fat, sugar, sodium, and preservatives as a result.
What we really need to do is reconnect with the foods of the past. Rather than another protein bar, meal replacement shake or frozen entrée, stick to the basics and go for real food.
Top choices to fill the bulk of your diet are foods on the periphery of the grocery store such as fruits, veggies, breads, dairy, meat, seafood, poultry and eggs. Other top choices include legumes, pasta, rice, hot cereal, nuts/seeds, and vegetable oils. It’s that simple.
Ditch the Cooking Channel
While gourmet cooking shows on television have grown in popularity I often wonder if they don’t intimidate most of us that are not master chefs. I personally have never used a “fiddlehead fern” or don’t even know where to buy “achiote seeds” used in a recent cooking show. I also know that I don’t have time to go to two or three grocery stores to get the ingredients I need for the week.
If you are like me, consider getting over gourmet and realize you don’t have to be a chef to eat healthy. In fact you don’t even need recipe books to get it right. The key is to just make sure you build balanced meals.
A balanced meal consists of three things: a grain/starch; veggies and/or fruits; and a source of protein. This might mean your appetizer is a bowl of raw carrots and the main course is a whole grain wrap spread with peanut or almond butter rolled around a banana.
Another example of a balanced meal might be a salad, scrambled eggs, leftover rice and frozen steamed veggies. While this supper may horrify a food connoisseur, it’s a good place to start for boosting health.
Tune in & Listen to the Best Expert
The best expert on you is you yourself. Your body won’t let you down if you truly tune in and listen to the messages it is sending you. Catch yourself squeezing in the last few bites to “finish your plate.”
Be aware when you are stuffing feelings of loneliness and anger with a large bag of potato chips. Realize when you have starved your body of nourishment and pleasure by skipping meals and restricting foods you like in an attempt to lose weight.
If we stopped and listened to our body we would notice that running through the day on coffee with no food or gorging mindlessly on fast food in our car just doesn’t feel right.
All of these are examples of not trusting your own intuition. One size does not fit all when it comes to your nutrition plan. Some people do better eating just three large meals a day while others do better eating six mini-meals a day.
Choose not to follow regimented eating plans and diet books that suggest you need to eat every two hours or stop eating after 7 p.m. While this can work for some people, there are thousands of ways to eat healthy.
Remember that a healthy diet based on decades of scientific research has determined that we should choose 45 to 65 per cent of our calories from carbohydrates, 10 to 35 per cent from protein, and 20 to 35 per cent from fat. What this means is that there are many ways to go about achieving a healthy diet. Tune in to your body and trust it.
Eat Better Instead of Eat Right
My personal mantra is “bite-sized changes for supersized results.” You don’t need to be a perfect eater; small shifts in your habits really do make a difference. If you think about the fact that there are 21 meals in the week, if a couple of them are not perfect, you will still score 90 per cent on your diet. Ironically, we often dwell on what didn’t go just right.
Get over getting it right and move to a philosophy of eating just a little bit better. The nice thing about this approach is that you will actually be able to stick to the changes for good. The challenge is that progress is slower and it requires a bit of patience in a society that wants to see instant gratification.
Rather than attempting an extreme makeover of your diet, think about three things you could work on that will challenge you to succeed rather than fail.
Don’t know where to start? Keep a journal for a few days and you will likely see some areas you need to work on. If you have been a breakfast skipper for most of your life, aim to have three breakfasts next week. If the only time you ever eat veggies is at supper, resolve to have veggies four times in your lunch next week. If you currently drink two cans of pop a day, aim for one a day. These bite-sized changes add up over time.
Whatever resolution you decide to set, one thing is certain. If you explicitly write down your resolutions you are 10 times more likely to be successful than if you didn’t make a resolution at all. Cheers for a healthy 2008.