How much care did you put into the food you ate today? Was it more or less than the care you put into your job? If the answer was “less”, it may be time to think of a diet revamp! Between eating out of your car, rushing from one account to the next, and frequent lunch and dinner programs, it can be tough to exercise a healthy eating lifestyle. However, healthy eating patterns will keep you alert and energetic, and are essential to ensuring long-term health...so here are some easy ways to make those changes!
- Aim to eat 5-6 small, healthy meals a day, starting with breakfast. Eating throughout the day accomplishes a few critical tasks – it jumpstarts your metabolism right away (your metabolism is the lowest when you wake up, so a balanced breakfast gives your body healthy nutrients while firing up that internal furnace!) and keeps your blood sugar on an even keel all day long. And the best part of small, frequent meals? You avoid making impulsive food choices just because you’re overly hungry. So don’t head into a dinner program after a day of starving yourself, thinking you’ll come out ahead in the end. It’s much easier to choose the healthy, lighter option when your blood sugar isn’t plummeting due to a day of skipped meals.
- Choose wisely! A healthy snack or meal should include a good carbohydrate (vegetables, fruits, or whole grain complex carb) and lean protein source. Aim for a “clean eating” diet, meaning foods that aren’t processed or refined, high in saturated or trans fats, or fried. Include the healthy essential fatty acids (EFAs) every day. Avoid the “white” foods – instead of white bread and plain pasta, choose whole grain versions. Also, you should be able to recognize the ingredients listed in the food labels!
- Drink lots of water throughout the day – at least 2 liters. Many times feeling of hunger, fatigue and headaches are the result of dehydration. Your body needs water to function properly. If you consume more coffee or soda than water, try swapping out half of your current intake with water. If you’ve been eating healthy foods throughout the day, you won’t need to rely on coffee and sodas for a pick-me-up anymore.
- Plan ahead for every day to be a healthy-eating day. You prepare for each day in the field, so why not put the same care into your own health? Once you’ve made a few adjustments, it won’t take any longer to eat healthy than it does to zip through a fast food line. Stock up on foods that you can grab every morning, such as fruit, veggies, healthy bars (for example, Lara bars are delicious but only have 3-4 ingredients), single-serving peanut or almond butters, and hummus. On days that are swamped, these items are healthy, quick and convenient. You can also find a Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or regular grocery store for a healthier salad or sandwich for lunch.
Although these are fairly simple suggestions, they can truly make a big difference in your daily life! If your current diet is less than stellar and the idea of making healthy changes seems daunting, be patient. It may feel like a struggle at first, but give your body and palate time to adjust to your new healthy ways. The day will come when you eat “junk food”, and you’ll be surprised to find you don’t like the taste anymore, or how it makes you feel afterward. Once that happens, the positive momentum towards consistent healthy eating will really be rolling, and it won’t feel so tough anymore!