Oh, I guess I should also mention that my sister Cora is a nutritionist, so this topic is close to her heart. Or at least something she is working towards, both for herself and others.
The winning strategy for good nutrition, according to the Nutrition 2013 website, is this:
Plan - Shop - Cook - Enjoy
So I am going to take that and run with it. And when I say run with it, I mean I will finish off my blog post by focusing on this winning strategy and what has worked for me.
As you saw in my Sticking to my Grocery Budget post, I'm doing quite well with the planning, shopping, cooking and enjoying. I find that I eat better when I have a plan in place. If I don't make a meal plan and just "wing it" for the week, I tend to make unhealthier food choices and end up eating popcorn for supper. Not good.
It's also important to stick to your plan when grocery shopping. Resist the urge to impulse buy and fill your cart with cookies, chips, pop and candy. Your body will be happier without that junk. Next, get into your kitchen! Even if you don't think of yourself as a great cook, whip out that apron, pull out some easy recipes, and try your hand at some cooking. Allow yourself time and laugh over your mistakes. We're all human. We all make the occasional flop of a meal, but keep trying and you will improve. You will find that cooking your own meals is enjoyable and will give you a sense of pride. And I bet you that you will appreciate that meal more if you made it yourself. Do it! Plan - Shop - Cook - Enjoy!
The internet is full of tips on eating healthy and improving your habits when it comes to nutrition. I don't want to sound repetitive by giving you the basic rundown on how to eat better, as most of you probably already have a pretty good idea on how to do so. Instead, I will list 10 new healthy eating tips that I have done, am working on, or plan to do in the near future. Sound good?
1. Drink at least 8 cups of water each day
This is something that I have just recently been working extra hard on. I know how important it is to stay hydrated and that there are a ton of health benefits to drinking water, but it's just so hard sometimes! I have noticed that I find it much easier to stay on top of my water drinking goals when I am work, since I always have a glass of water at my desk. It's the weekends that I find hard, when I'm busy running around and just forget to drink. But since I know how important it is, I have decided to really work hard on it. To help me with this, I printed off this handy dandy water tracker chart that can be found on the blog In the Next 30 Days.
It is really helping me with my goal as I love to check things off. So having all those little check boxes is doing the trick for me! So far, I've done awesome during the week and mostly okay on the weekends.
2. Start the day off right with a good breakfast
Breakfast is the one meal that I have always struggled with and still do in fact. I wake up hungry yet slightly nauseated. Not many foods actually sound appealing to me first thing in the morning and so I don't often make the healthiest choices. My breakfast used to be either toast or a bagel with jam. That's it. Not much to it and it wouldn't keep me full for long. Since going gluten-free and on the recommendation of my new doctor, I have switched over to fruit smoothies with protein powder. I still don't find it very appetizing and some days I really can't stomach it and have a fried egg with some fruit instead, but for the most part I have been faithfully drinking these smoothies every morning. I blend up a mix of fruit, add some almond milk and then 2 scoops of hemp protein powder. It doesn't fill me up until lunch but it does keep me fuller for longer. Plus, I have noticed some other positive changes to how I feel in the mornings.
3. Pack healthy snack options
I snack a lot so I always need to have a ton of snacks on hand and easy to grab. My lunch bag is mostly full of snacks to keep me going between meals. Lately I have really been trying to make healthy snack choices and be sure to have a variety of fruits, veggies, protein and grains. Even when I go shopping or am just out somewhere, I almost always have a small container of nuts or an apple in my purse. I find that if I have the healthy options close by, I tend to avoid the sugary or salty stuff and choose the one that is better for me.
4. Cut back on sugars, especially highly processed and refined ones
This is definitely something that I am still working on. I've been researching the different sweetener options out there and trying to find good substitutes to using white and brown sugar. I haven't made any decisions yet but I'm toying with the idea of using coconut sugar in baking and then using honey and maple sugar in other things.
5. Make your own bread
Making my own bread from scratch is something that I've been doing for a while now. When we moved into our house one of our first new purchases was a bread machine and we've used it pretty faithfully ever since. But to be honest, I feel like bread machine bread doesn't quite taste as good as bread done in the oven. So as of late, I've been using the dough setting on the bread machine and then taking it out and dividing it into two loaf pans and baking it in the oven. Then I slice it up and freeze it for Dan's lunches. This has been working especially well since we haven't been going through bread as fast ever since I went gluten-free. Dan gets the benefits of homemade bread and I know what ingredients I'm putting into it!
6. Eat less processed foods
This is a big one for me. Processed food has so much crap in it. They are so full of random ingredients and chemicals that it takes out any nutrition that might have been left in the food. I've been trying really hard to depend less on expensive processed foods and focus more on making my own healthier versions. It definitely takes more time but I honestly think that the health benefits from cutting out processed foods is worth it.
7. Use your freezer to keep foods fresh and accessible
I love my freezer. Well, I should say I love my freezers, since I now have three of them. I especially love how easy it is to whip up foods on the weekend and then freeze them to eat during the week. I like to have meals made ahead and frozen for those nights when you just need something that doesn't take much effort. I also freeze muffins, cookies, breads, fruit, veggies, etc. For me, it's so much easier to make healthy food choices if I have those healthy foods accessible and the freezer helps me keep them fresh.
8. Grow your own vegetables and herbs
I don't think this one needs much explaining. By growing your own veggies and herbs you know what is being put on them, how they are grown and where they come from. There is also something very satisfying about eating something that you grew with your own hands. I had a garden last summer and I plan on expanding it this summer. I am now trying to choose organic seeds and make better choices on where I buy my plants.
9. Always read the ingredient list
This has been even more important for me to do since I went gluten-free. Gluten is in everything. Well, basically everything. It's so important to read ingredient lists and see what you are eating. Since reading ingredient lists searching for hidden gluten, I have also discovered how many other things are being snuck into our foods. Sugar, soy, corn, etc. Knowing what you are eating is an important step in healthy eating.
10. Eat less fast food
I'm not going to even explain why you should do this. Fast food is bad for you. Period.
So there you have it, my post on Nutrition Month. Do you have any feedback, questions or tips for me? Feel free to comment!