I’ve been working in the nutrition field for nearly six years now, teaching workshops, cooking classes as well as one-on-one, but no matter how I am instructing, there is always one question that trips my clients up, time and time again. When I ask them if they think they eat well (they usually say no, not really, or some of the time), I then ask them: Why?
Why don’t we eat well, most of the time? What trips us up from living a healthy lifestyle? Why do so many of us struggle with eating, one of the very few things we are required to do every single day to stay alive, however an incredible number of us- almost ⅓ of the adult population in the US are considered obese- are eating in a way that is killing us, slowly.
Weight aside, our eating habits aren’t producing the effects food should have one us. Food should nourish us, energize us and make us feel good. Instead, we find ourselves sluggish and sick, more often than we would like to admit. Why is this?
Do you know the most common responses I get to that simple question-- “Why?”
“It’s just too hard.” “I don’t know where to start.” “I keep trying… it just takes too much time.”
Somehow, we have taken something very simple- eating to fuel our bodies- and complicated it to the point where it feels overwhelming. We reach for the chips because we just can’t stand the thought of opening the fridge. We avoid the grocery store in favor of fast food because the aisles give us anxiety. We turn a blind eye to the recommendations around us to watch what we eat because we know the consequences if we don’t, but we’d rather pretend we didn’t.
I’m here to tell you: it doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be hard. We MAKE it hard. Eating well, feeling well and fueling our bodies right can be simple and un-complicated, if we let it be. It starts with learning simple principles to make eating well easy on ourselves and our families.Here are my five favorite ways to un-complicate healthy eating:
1. Forget the labels. How many of us feel daunted just strolling the grocery store aisles, with choices galore-- who knows where to start? And we all want to take care of our health, so then comes those nutrition labels and ingredient lists. Which ingredients should I avoid? What should I look for? My head is spinning just thinking about it. Here’s a concept: forget the labels. Instead of worrying what’s on the ingredient list, start buying the ingredients. Nutrition facts don’t mean much when you’re buying whole foods- because whole foods don’t usually come with labels.
2. Create a running grocery list. Worried about what to buy? Create a running grocery list of all the things your family eats on a weekly basis, and add to it as you need to for recipes and special meals.
3. Create a list of “family favorites”. These are recipes that are nourishing, simple and your family loves! Cooking doesn’t need to take hours, and you don’t need mile-long recipes to feed yourself and your family well. Find the recipes that don’t take too much time, that your family enjoys and start from there.
4. Keep prepared ingredients on hand. If meal prep seems formidable, try prepping ingredients. Simply having healthy ingredients on hand- pre-cooked quinoa or rice, steamed veggies, cooked ground meat or baked chicken breasts, makes eating well easy by taking the guesswork out of meal time.
5. Eat when you’re hungry- stop when you’re full. What a concept! Kidding aside, listening to our hunger cues is one of the biggest challenges many of us face when it comes to maintaining our weight and feeling satisfied on a daily basis. We tend to eat on as schedule: breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, evening snack- rather than simply eating when we are hungry. We scoop ourselves a large portion of food and scarf it down, grabbing a second portion without even stopping to consider if we’re full. At the very core of eating well, starts with listening to your body. One of our 5 Keys to Good Nutrition is to simply be mindful. Eating starts to seem a lot easier when we just take the time to slow down, take a deep breath and listen to what our body is telling us.
I hope these few tips give you just a little bit of hope and encouragement that it is possible to make eating well just a little bit easier. Happy eating!
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