Practice Makes Good Habits
Life is always throwing us changes – a new job, moving, a new commitment, illness, having a baby – and you have to adapt. Something’s got to give and often our own health is the first thing we cut to make room in our already busy lives. We stop working out, cut into our time for sleep, and turn to processed and fast foods.
Talking of life changes, Sebastian and I welcomed our sweet baby boy, Henrik, into the world on October 2nd last year! Clearly, I am having to make a lot of adjustments to my daily routine, but I am still in control of what and when I eat (and now, what my little boy eats too).
Eight years ago I followed 4 basic nutrition practices that helped me get healthy and lose 30 pounds. They became habits for me over time, but after I reached my goals I was able to let loose a little more. Now, I have new goals and obstacles so I am returning to these same principles to help me succeed again.
1) Plan ahead. Plan your meals out a week or two ahead; this makes it easier for you to decide what to eat each day since you already picked ahead of time. The fewer the decisions you have to make each day, the better.
I have found this easiest if my breakfasts, snacks and lunches are somewhat the same from day to day. For example, my breakfast is almost always sautéed spinach, scrambled eggs, and cheese with a side of sprouted grain toast; my snacks will be simple like and apple and cheese or an orange and hard boiled eggs; and lunch will likely be a sprouted grain sandwich or leftovers.
For dinners, pick out a few recipes to get you through each week, write out your grocery list, and hit the grocery store. I suggest picking a couple recipes you are familiar with and can prepare easily and another recipe or two that is new to you so you don’t get bored with the same meals all the time. I try to cook enough for leftovers – these can either be eaten for another dinner or even for lunch the next day. By planning for leftovers you save yourself some time by not having to cook each night.
2) Be Prepared so you never get too hungry. I learned early on that I do not handle being hungry well; I get shaky, moody, can’t focus or think straight, and lose control over what and/or how much I eat once I get my hands on some food. Therefore, I suggest you always have a snack on hand – in your car, desk, or purse. Doing this will ensure you never get “hangry” and do not have to resort to the vending machine or fast food. Typically, I keep a bag of walnuts in my purse.
3) Portion size. 8 years ago I gained control of my portions by eating my meals off the smaller salad plates and not going back for seconds. I still follow this principle, but now I also use my hands to help determine my portions – for me, my palm is the amount of protein, my thumb is my fats, fist is vegetables, and cupped handful is my starchy carbs. So, when I go out to eat I follow my hand-portion sizes and put the rest of the food in a to-go box before I even start eating.
4) Balance your plate. This goes along with the hand-portions I just mentioned in #3. Every time I eat a meal I try to make sure I have some kind of protein, fat, vegetable, and carb. At the very least, I always have a protein and vegetable or fruit (remember the snacks I mentioned above – orange and hard-boiled eggs or apple and cheese).
There you have it – my top 4 tips to control what you eat. Even though our lives are always changing and we may feel like we do not have time to focus on our own health, follow these simple tips and you will be able to stay in control of your nutrition. After a little while, they will become automatic practices for you and you will find it even easier to control.
Sharon Hudd, Pn1