Maybe you’ve never known how to eat healthy. Maybe you think you already do eat healthy even though the results prove otherwise. Maybe you don’t care about healthy living because you think you’re doing ok and will wait until something major happens when it’s probably too late. Maybe you need to stop making excuses and take control of your life.
Healthy living isn’t complicated as I’ve said time and again. If it’s in a box, bag, has ingredients you can’t pronounce or look unnatural, don’t eat it. Avoid eating out or on the go all the time. This is smart on the wallet and the waistline! Think about what you’re putting into your system. We treat ourselves worse than our pets, our cars, and then wonder why obesity is the number one killer in North America of children and adults alike.
Enough preaching. If you’ve read this far, do something about it. You want to. So just start.
HYDRATE IN THE MORNING
Dehydration is the root of so many issues. If we are chronically dehydrated, it causes us to crave more sugar, reduces energy, increases cholesterol and blood pressure. In other words, that lethargy and candy bar craving might be a signal that your body needs water. Rather than resorting to OCD tricks like counting rubber bands on water bottles, make an easy change by starting every day with a glass of water – yes, even, before your coffee – and work your way up to a litre. You might be surprised at how much better you feel.
LOSE A BOX
Improving eating habits is a lifelong process, not an overnight makeover. To start, “lose a box”: Identify your least healthy regular meal, whether it’s a meal out or a really horrific thing that you nuke in a microwave, and commit to banning it from rotation and subbing in a meal cooked from scratch in your kitchen. Slowly but surely you’ll end up with nothing but healthy meals in your home.
SIT DOWN AND RELAX
This is the one I still struggle with personally. I inhale my food because there’s always so much going on in my life. We never pause to really chew or swallow. Speed-eating promotes overeating – by the time satiety signals get through to your brain, you’re already stuffed – and it hurts digestion. Put down your fork, spoon or sandwich after each bite, chewing and swallowing before you pick it up again – ideally while consuming a detoxifying vegetable like dandelion greens, lightly sautéed in coconut oil. It’s hard to overeat when you eat slowly.
EAT TAPAS STYLE
We’re all naturally suspicious of fast food, but restaurant eating – even fine dining – can be a calorie bomb, too (just ask your server how much butter goes into that risotto.) To mitigate the damage, get in the habit of sharing. If you’re a couple, order one appetizer per person and one entrée to share. If you’re more than one couple, order an appetizer per person and an entrée per couple; a tapas-style approach to dining that will keep excess temptation at bay.
If you find it a challenge to eat enough fruits and vegetables, focus on the superficial. There are five categories of produce: purple/blue (blackberries, blueberries), red (tomatoes, watermelon), orange/yellow (squash, carrots), green (kale, broccoli) and white/beige (potatoes, cauliflower). Try to consume one of every colour of the rainbow every day. Each of those contains different classes of phytochemicals, plant compounds – like lycopene and beta-carotene – that help keep the body healthy and may reduce the risk of some cancers and other diseases. Want bonus points? Serve half of your daily 10 servings raw.
DRINK A SMOOTHIE
For me, good nutrition is about peak performance every day, whether that means optimal muscle recovery during olympic weight training or simply waking up every morning full of energy. One of the first things people notice when they eat better is they start to sleep better. One of my favourite tricks is a daily whole-foods smoothie. You can make them taste like whatever you want. To make a ginger-pear smoothie, blend together a banana, half a pear, a tablespoon each of ground flax seed, hemp protein and grated ginger, and two cups of water, or 1 1/2 cups water plus a cup of ice. Make it sweeter by tossing in a couple of soaked dates.
GO ANTIQUE SHOPPING
“Portion distortion” is a major contributor to overeating and gaining weight. It didn’t use to be inevitable to gain weight as you age. To help control portion sizes, buy some antique plates. They’re smaller. Or if you want to be all fru-fru about it, just buy yourself some smaller plates. Your brain will still think it’s eating a full meal and your stomach will thank you for not stuffing it.
Stop the bad habits. Stop doing what you’ve always done as it obviously hasn’t been working for you.
These were just a few suggestions. There are literally dozens. The point is you don’t need some type of fancy degree or certification to understand healthy living. Hell, you could’ve spent five minutes googling and found enough information to get you started. Amazing how strong we can let our excuses be, isn’t it?