Healthy Eating Tips

You would be mistaken to think only about exercise when you consider starting a keep fit program. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, exercise is important, but so is your diet. Real fitness means a healthy body…free from the problems that take all the fun out of life.

“Health eating tips”

Fact: Our modern way of life contributes to a nutrient deficient diet – no matter how well fed we think we are.

Fact: Food refining strips up to 80% of minerals from food as nature intended it to be.

Fact: Our environment is damaged by air pollution, toxic chemicals and man-made pesticides that we have no control over.

We can live full, rich and healthy lives if we just take action and incorporate a few straight-forward changes in eating and life-style habits. But with so many fad diets, and so much conflicting information that even the experts seem unable to agree, it’s no wonder you may have failed trying to improve your health and weight, by diet and/or exercise. In fact, it’s not your fault and you’re not alone. The UK Government’s Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson pulled no punches in warning that much of the British public is becoming obese at an alarming rate.

What is particularly alarming is the fact that so many children are overweight too. We live in an age where parents are, understandably, anxious about children playing out in the streets, so instead they may spend hours in front of the computer or TV. Given that we live in what is commonly referred to as “The Information Age”, this is very surprising; in which case why aren’t we all slim, fit and healthy?

As a qualified nutritionist, I have been seeing clients since 1999, and come to a stark conclusion. There’s more to “Keep Fit” than just exercise and diet. No matter how enthusiastic nutrition clients, or new gym recruits, start off, 80% of them will not follow-through with the long-term life-style changes needed to benefit from their new knowledge. Those who do not change will have wasted their money and time.

Consider two typical, but very different, clients – a busy Mum and a highly-stressed executive. Both are looking for advice on healthy eating and exercise. t is just too easy to wheel out a standard “Five-a-Day” and “30 minutes daily exercise on five or more days a week” formula, but this may be totally impossible for some clients. For most people, this advice is totally inadequate unless motivation and lifestyle are considered.

In addition to receiving advice on diet and supplements, clients need to seriously explore the benefits they’ll experience from a healthier life-style, and to consider the consequences of not following through on what they’ve learned. Even when health consequences are clearly understood, some clients are still unable to commit to life-style changes – as evidenced by those continuing to smoke despite the health warning on cigarette packets.

While a one-off nutrition consultation or coaching session can be useful to kick-start you into a new way of eating and living, the effect can soon fade. To be successful, your health and fitness programme must fit into your life as an on-going program, so it’s helpful to source a recurring series of practical tips on incorporating healthy eating into your every-day life.

Healthy Eating Tip

It is a typical day for me. I’m between classes at NYU and only have 15 minutes to grab a bit to eat. I juggle an apple in one hand, my iPhone in the other, and still try to keep my eyes on traffic as I attempt to cross the street. It seems as though I never get time to slow down, unless I’m in my yoga class where my mind finally stops racing. And as I toss my apple core in the trash, I think about how I “can’t wait to eat a real meal later.”
For many of us, sitting down to enjoy our food has become a luxury, not a regular way of life. And creating a healthy eating plan is one luxury we should be making a priority. The benefits are a healthier, more satisfied life. I for one hate eating on the run. It is that type of mindless eating that I know can cause more issues. What is more important is being tuned in to my food.

With the invention of the TV tray to accompany the TV dinner, more Americans are finding ways to multitask while eating. These days, our environment makes it is easy to find a way to eat on the go. Cup holders are conveniently placed in our front and back seats, drive-through service is available at many locations, and packaged snacks can be picked-up at any small shop and consumed with no utensils while driving, walking and working. We are becoming programmed to think about everything except our food when we eat! This is no way to stay healthy. We have created a culture full of mindless eaters with no healthy eating plan. And while life is busy, and at times there seems to be no other options, being aware of healthy alternatives and trying our best to plan out our meals can help us avoid adding inches to our waistline that comes with habitual mindless eating.

When we don’t think about our meals, it can lead us to make less healthy food choices in several ways:

#1 We eat larger portions. It’s hard to keep track of how many chips you are eating when you’re watching the game. If you are going to be distracted while consuming your food, try to set aside a small portion, rather than eating right out of the family-size bag.

#2 We eat more food and feel less satisfied. When you are not thinking about the food you consume, you typically feel unsatisfied at the end of the meal. When I eat at work, I feel like I missed out and I look forward to the “real meal” I get to have later. But like it or not, that “unreal” meal I just consumed still has “real” calories that will add to the scale later.

#3 We eat more processed foods. A good majority of the foods that can be eaten without silverware come out of a package. These pre-packaged foods are generally less nutritious than a more natural alternative. Keeping foods like apples, bananas, avocados, pears, carrots and celery are all good ways to keep a healthy diet. Some packaged foods that can also be good for you are natural nuts, dried fruit (with no added sugar) and Larabars. These are all great additions to your healthy eating plan.

So, to adopt a healthy meal plan immediately and reduce your mindless eating, follow these healthy living tips:

  • Avoid eating in front of the TV.
  • Try not to eat while driving.
  • Make an effort to think about your food while you consume it.
  • When you can, sit down to eat your food instead of eating on the run.

With a little bit of effort, we can fight the mindless eating battle and go back to enjoying our food!

Time Out for Healthy Living

Kelly is driving down a dangerous road. With kids, a full time job, running the household, an executive husband who travels a lot, and studying to get more university credits, Kelly’s health habits have really gone downhill recently. She doesn’t have time for breakfast, snacks by 10 a.m. on something sugary to get her energy up, usually grabs fast food or skips lunch altogether, and suppertime is so hectic, because the family is busy with evening activities. She doesn’t make time to exercise regularly, struggles to balance emotions with good parenting, and consequently is exhausted all the time. Help! Does this sound like someone you know….maybe even you?

This is a very familiar situation that many people find themselves in. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. I have a hunch that you know what you should be doing, it’s just that you need a little help and perspective getting “on track” with your health goals. Let’s go through a 10 minute assessment of your needs and goals for making improvements in your lifestyle. Get a pen and paper and let’s start!

WHAT IS THE “END RESULT” (GOAL) AT WHICH YOU’RE AIMING?

If you know what you want, specifically and clearly, then the likelihood of getting it is much higher than if you are vague.

What do you want?

How will you know when you’ve gotten there? (What is your measuring system for success?)

DISCOVER THE POSSIBILITIES

What have you already tried?

What could you do differently, that might help you get better results?

REMOVE THE BARRIERS

What roadblocks do you see or know about?( ie. social commitments on your calendar) that may interrupt your focus off your goal?

PLAN THE ACTION

How soon can you address the roadblocks and what action steps will you put in place?

Do you need anyone else to make this work? Who can support you?

REVIEW AND DECIDE ON THE NEXT STEP

What do you plan to have happen over the next week?

How do you like your solution?

What kind of priority will you give this?

This framework can work for any area of your life. If you’re trying to regain control over your health habits, take it one step at a time. From the brief scenario described with Kelly’s situation, there would be a few things I suggest would be easy to implement into your day, to make significant improvements right away.

1. Eat breakfast. Eating with your kids is the best option, it sets a good lifestyle choice example that will become a permanent habit for them as well. If you can’t take time to “eat”, whip up a fruit smoothie (fresh fruit, yogurt or milk, ice, fruit juice in a blender) to tote along to the office. If coffee is a regular habit, try decaf…same flavour, without sapping your body of nutrients. Your blood sugar levels will be more balanced through the morning, and by taking some fruit along, and incorporating that into your daily nutritional intake, you’ll stabilize your energy, as well as nourish your body with great fuel.

2. Incorporate exercise into the early part of the day, preferably before the kids get up. Consider walking, following along with home DVD’s, videos, or TV exercise programs. Twenty minutes in the morning will set you up for a great day, mentally and physically.

3. Keep a journal to track your results….when goals are written down, and time frames as well as action steps are put onto paper, it’s amazing how this alone can heighten your awareness of places you are falling short, and therefore, this gives you direct feedback to be able to correct your path during the day!

4. Make sure you stay hydrated! Especially with the summer heat, don’t wait until you’re thirsty! Water is your best choice, flavoured or plain, low sugar juices, decaf teas and coffees. (Beware of the “iced cappuccino’s” of fast food chains…they are LOADED with fat and sugar, and empty calories.)

5. Above all, take some time out for yourself to enjoy life. Stay in the present moment, find time to meditate or reflect on the beauty and blessings of life. Enjoy your family, friends and most of all, enjoy and love yourself.