March is nutrition month and this year the theme “Take a 100 Meal Journey” is all about making small changes instead of trying to make grandiose extreme lifestyle makeovers. Since we eat about 100 meals in a month making small tweaks to the everyday meals you consume can add up to have supersized results.
While there are many changes you could make to your diet here are my top 3 to help you elevate your energy, improve your health and manage a healthy weight.
My Top 3 Healthy Eating Challenges
1. Follow the “2 by 2 veggie rule” to be sure you eat enough veggies
- Since many of our clients fail to consume enough variety as well as volume of veggies throughout the day try following what I have coined as the “2 by 2 veggie rule.” This is defined as choose two different vegetables twice per day.
- The easiest way to do this for many people (myself included) is to have two different vegetables in your lunch (or as a snack) and two different types of vegetables in your supper.
- You will likely eat more vegetables if you provide yourself the opportunity to have them multiple times during the day rather than only at supper.
- Researchers have determined what is known as “sensory-specific satiety” which states that our senses (such as taste, smell and even sight) get numbed and overwhelmed if they continually experience the same stimulus. This is why we eat more when there is variety. Chances are you and your family will eat more overall veggies if you have two different types of veggies at one time rather than only one.
- Here are a few examples of how to put the 2 by 2 veggie rule into practice:
- Raw carrots and snap peas as part of your lunch as well as a stir-fry with red peppers and broccoli as part of your dinner.
- Mixed vegetable soup as part of your lunch as well as a salad with steamed asparagus or green beans as part of your dinner.
- Grape or cherry tomatoes and cucumber sticks with hummus as a snack as well as coleslaw and mixed roasted veggies as part of your supper.
- Add two veggies to your morning or post-workout snack smoothie (such as kale, spinach, avocado or cucumber) as well as have frozen peas and carrots as part of your supper.
- Mixed green salad with grated carrots or beets as part of your lunch as well as grilled portabello mushrooms with zucchini as part of your supper.
2. Stretch your comfort zone and try one new idea each week
We all get in a rut with our everyday cooking habits, which can lead to boredom. One way to mix up the variety both you and your family are eating is to try one new idea each week.
It doesn’t have to be an entire new recipe. Consider changing only one part of the meal such as a side dish. Try one small tweak, healthy substitution or culinary addition to something you already make. It doesn’t have to be a new food. It could be a different way of preparing a favorite food.
Try a healthy substitution:
- Try making your shepherds pie recipe with yams or sweet potatoes for more beta-carotene and a great new flavor.
- Try making your favorite chili recipe with half the meat and double the legumes to add a cost-effective protein and fibre source.
Try a new way to cook a favorite or common food:
- Instead of steamed or raw cauliflower try roasting it by tossing with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper and drizzle with tahini once cooked.
- Instead of making plain regular hummus try stirring in sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers or steamed or roasted beets for added nutrition and flavor.
- Try cooking barley in low-sodium broth with sautéed onions and mushrooms as an alternative to common grains such as rice.
3. Manage the environment to manage junk food snack attacks
Food psychology research has found that the more we have the more we eat.
- If you stock your pantry with a large variety of junk food you can bet you will eat lots of this.
- If you stock your pantry and fridge with a tremendous variety of attractive healthy foods you will eat more of this.
The key is managing our environment such as our home, car, desk at work and more to make sure we have the right type of fuel available when you are hungry.
We eat packages not portions.
- Be sure to place hard to manage junk foods in small portions and buy small units rather than shopping in bulk.
- The trick is not to eliminate them but have an awareness of how you work best.
- As the chocoholic nutritionist stashing a large selection of chocolate bars in my pantry would not be a good idea since I would eat it far more often and in a larger amount than truly needed. Instead, if I truly want chocolate I go out and buy a chocolate bar. This has eliminated the “nice to have” cravings and allowed the “need to have” cravings to be met.
For more information:
visit Andrea’s website at www.healthstandnutrition.com
follow Andrea on Twitter: @chocoholicRD