While what we eat is of great importance, most of us do not make much of an effort to really stop and think about how we are eating. Do you eat fast? Do you eat while you are doing five other things? Do you eat when you are stressed? The way we eat has a much greater affect on our bodies than most of us realize. In order to get the most out of the healthy foods we spend so much time, money, and effort preparing, it is important to pay attention to how we are interacting with the foods we love so much.
1. Keep A Food Journal
Recording what you eat for a week, or even a few days, is a helpful way to understand what you are actually eating. Even those who think that they are highly aware of what they eat can learn from this exercise. When you record what you eat, make a note of how you are feeling before and after you eat: tired, emotional, bored, hungry, bloated, etc. Keeping note of your digestive patterns can be important as well.
2. Find Meaningful Reasons To Change
Most healthy eating marketing you will see is focused on the goal of losing weight. While being a healthy weight is important, the desire to be skinny is often not enough to stay motivated. I am sure that many of you can relate with the “getting fit” New Years resolution that rarely comes to fruition. There needs to be deeper underlying reasons for change to happen. Motivation comes and goes. Find reasons that to be healthy that could change major facets of your life. Maybe you want to be more emotionally and mentally stable, have more energy for a relationship or job, get healthy before having a baby, set an example for loved ones, or are just tired of feeling sick all the time. Having a meaningful reason to change will give you an extra wind when moments of weakness arise (and they will).
3. Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Thinking about food in a “good” and “bad” mentality can be very detrimental. Instead of thinking a food as good or bad, think about whether the food is helping you achieve your end goal. Ask yourself: Is this food helping me achieve my optimal level of health? Will this make me feel better or worse? 3. Make Realistic Goals Setting realistic goals is one of the most important things to focus on when looking to improve dietary habits. Instead of setting several large goals for yourself, make smaller changes. Try eating one more serving of vegetables a day. Go on a walk for 20 minutes. Drink more water. The smaller goals are the ones that you are more likely to accomplish and stick with for the long haul.
4. Connect With Your Food
Americans don’t have the best reputation for slowing down to enjoy meals. Although making every meal a production is not an option for most of us, there are a few simple steps you can take to be more in tune with the foods that are providing you with nourishment.
• Smell your food before eating (it gets the digestive juices going).
• Express gratitude for your food.
• Take 5 deep breaths at the beginning of each meal.
• Sit down while eating.
• Put your fork down between each bite.
• Don’t eat in front of a screen or while driving.
• Chew slower.
• If possible, try and eat in a peaceful environment.
• Cook and eat with people you care about.
Take some time to figure out what it is you would like to develop and accomplish with your own health. The way you decide to make changes should be unique to your personal needs and goals. Happy eating!
Angie Schoenherr receives her certification as a Master Nutrition Therapist from the Nutrition Therapy Institute in Denver, Colorado. In addition to her formal nutrition training, she has extensive experience working on sustainable vegetable, agriculture, and herb farms. Being a firm believer in the healing power of food and herbs, Angie's goal is to help others gain a deeper understanding of how important diet choices are in achieving optimal health. Learn more her here.