There’s no shortage of voices out there telling you what you should eat. However everyone has different taste preferences, health history, life situations and needs. Behaviors are often at the root of needed change.
I’ve often said that most people know what “healthy eating” looks like, but planning out groceries, and choosing those foods on a regular basis is a challenge. There are a lot of things that may get in the way: Budget, time, culinary skill, interest, work or school schedules, stress, health problems, and more.
Life events can interfere with your ability to stay on track too. Whether happy or sad (weddings, birthdays, graduations, deaths, illness, struggles), changes or transitions in your life can derail your healthy choices. Everyone’s lives has had quite a bit of disruption this year. All changes in your life make it challenging to stick to healthy behaviors. Recent news has reported that depression and anxiety are up as a result of the pandemic, which is all the more reason to focus on self-care.
Instead of focusing on what you eat, think about your overall schedule and habits.
We sit a lot. It’s simply the nature of our modern world. People may be sitting at computers or sitting in the seat of delivery vans. If you have a job that requires a lot of sitting, think about ways you can sit less. Maybe you can set a goal to get up out of your chair every hour. If you regularly work at a desk, consider a standing desk. Or, just move around more. Do 10 jumping jacks, or just stretch a little. Take a short walk each morning or evening, or during a work break. Every minute adds up.
Have a Plan
Keeping healthy foods in the house is step one, but without a plan, they may not always make it into your meals and snacks. Coming up with some ways to plan out some of your meals and snacks is a good idea. It’s easy to fall into mindless eating when you don’t have a plan, or when you allow yourself to get too hungry. Pay attention to your hunger cues, and be sure to create a meal plan for yourself that ensures you are nourished when you need it most. Get hungry mid-morning? Maybe you need a larger breakfast or a planned mid-morning snack? It’s also a good idea to plan out your grocery shopping. Plan meals and create a go-to grocery list.
Goals should be realistic, measurable and attainable. Rather than focus on large goals that will take time, or multiple goals at once, think about just choosing 1 or 2 small ones. For instance, if you want to adopt the DASH Diet to lower your blood pressure, then you should set a goal to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. How will you do that? When will you do it? How can you measure it? You might say “I’ll add a vegetable to every lunch and dinner, add a serving of fruit to 2 snacks daily, and have a fruit-veggie smoothie each day”. You can keep a food record that just records the fruits and vegetables you consume daily – then you will know if you are meeting your goal or not.