When you think of healthy eating, what comes to mind? Do you think of having quinoa bowls topped with fruit, or perhaps you envision large salads with a variety of seasonal produce.
So many people think that eating healthy equates to eating bland, boring food. Getting started with healthier eating at home might just seem too hard. After all, it’s so easy to grab a bite from the drive thru or order takeout on those busy weeknights, right?
When I started being more intentional about what I was eating and feeding my family, I realized I wasn’t alone in this confusion. In fact, 52% of respondents in the 2012 Food and Health Survey said that it’s easier to figure out taxes than to figure out what they should or shouldn’t eat to be healthier.
More than half of Americans feel it’s easier to figure out taxes than to figure out what they should or shouldn’t eat to be healthier.
This perception – coupled with other myths and confusions around diet and nutrition – makes a healthy eating lifestyle feel out of reach for many. But this doesn’t have to be the case. This is why I create the Better Health Now Series. We are giving you a year-long healthy makeover one month at a time, removing all the complexity and confusion from developing healthy habits. Be sure to sign up for the Better Health Now series and we’ll notify you of every new release.
This month we’re talking about how to start eating healthier at home. There are a few fool-proof strategies that can help you start eating healthier without feeling stressed out.
How to Start Eating Healthier at Home
Stage your kitchen.
Just as they plant the unhealthy BOGO’s near the supermarket entrance, use a little marketing to make healthy eating a no-brainer in your kitchen. Keep healthy foods front and center. Keep a fruit bowl on your counter making it easily accessible. Keep the healthier options visible in the pantry and cupboards to make them easier to reach for. Fill your refrigerator with healthy batches of whole grains and pre-cut vegetables for cooking and snacking.
Opt for whole foods.
Pare down your consumption of processed foods and opt for whole, unrefined foods at every opportunity. Choose whole foods like like fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole, unrefined grains. They are packed with essential nutrients like protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals as opposed to processed foods which contain empty calories.
Think before you drink.
Although Americans are consuming less sugar now than in the past, we still have a long way to go until we get the country’s sugar addiction under control. You can start now by ditching sugary drinks and sodas and sipping on water, unsweetened beverages, or infused water.
Take a different route.
When you decide to start eating healthier at home, it often starts with your behaviors at the grocery store. Shopping in the right areas of the grocery store will put you in front of healthier food options.
So when you get to the supermarket – rather than head straight to the inner aisles – take the scenic (and healthier!) route and head to the perimeter of the store. You’ll find the produce department, fish counter, unprocessed lean meats, eggs, nuts, and milks. Staying on the perimeter makes it more likely that you’ll end up with a shopping cart full of healthy foods.
Add fish to your dish.
You may eat meat and poultry as your main protein, but what about fish? The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week. Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which are linked to boosting brain and heart health as well as buffering the risk of dementia and diabetes.
Bake with whole-grain flours.
If you love to bake like I do, you know that it’s easy for this area to throw off a healthy eating plan. Go guilt-free with your baking sessions by using whole-grain flours in your goodies. Unlike refined flours (think all-purpose flour in a big white bag) the unrefined, whole-grain flour has the bran and germ of the grain intact. This means they pack a greater nutritional punch than refined flours. Some great whole-grain flours are barley, oat and spelt flour. You’ll notice that whole grain flours are heartier and have a more complex taste than refined flours. Play with your recipes and start gradually subbing whole grain flours for some of your usual flours.
Eat from smaller plates.
Ever eaten a larger meal from a larger plate and then felt overly full? When your food is served in a larger portion than you actually need, your brain is tricked into believing that you should eat it all. When you eat on a smaller plate, your brain is also tricked into thinking the opposite – that you’ve eaten enough. Serve your meals on a small 8 or 9″ plate to reduce the temptation for overeating.
Starting a healthy eating plan doesn’t have to be complex. Start with one or two tips from above to get your healthy eating plan underway.
What changes have you made to start eating healthier at home? Share in the comments below.
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