Healthy Eating: Small Changes
- February 1, 2012
- on 2/1/2012
- MoJo: April Finnen
Eating healthier doesn’t have to be daunting. It’s as simple as choosing a banana over a bag of chips: one small choice at a time. Over time, of course, small choices can add up to big, positive changes.
Pick one of these small changes, and start today:
- · Get to know oatmeal. Bacon and eggs are great, but oatmeal can also be a hearty, satisfying hot breakfast. Sprinkle in a few nuts for protein, especially if you exercise in the morning.
- · Start “salad night.” Instead of its cousins pizza night and spaghetti night, try salad for dinner more often. With prepackaged salad greens and a few standard toppings on hand, big salads make for quick, healthy dinners. (My favorite: spring mix with grilled chicken, shredded carrots, walnuts and dried cranberries, with raspberry vinaigrette.)
- · Try a new vegetable once a week, or even once a month. Sample a small helping at the hot food or salad bar, or search food magazines or websites for recipe ideas. (Tip: Root vegetables are great roasted at ~400 degrees until tender, with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.)
- · Try a familiar vegetable prepared in a new way. Sushi is a fun way to try vegetables. Wegmans has a variety of vegetarian sushi options, and brown rice versions.
- · Pack a snack. Keep a stash of healthy snacks near your work area, so you’re not tempted by the vending machine. On the road? Raw nuts, and some fruits and vegetables are great, portable options. “If you can pop a healthy snack, you won’t reach for quick, unhealthy ones,” advises Michelle Forman (aka @eatniks).
- · Eat 80% of your meal. Deborah Brody (@DBMC) shared this tip, and noted that a good conversation can help you eat more slowly, and only until you’re full.
- · Leave dinner on the stove. Instead of serving dinner family-style at the table, leave it in the kitchen. If you want seconds, you’ll have to get up.
- · Drink water instead of soda. Lauren Harshman (@laurenharshman) pays more attention to what she eats after giving up soda. If you can’t give up soda entirely, have at least one glass of water for every soft drink. (Studies have shown that even diet sodas don’t help you lose weight.)
- · Don’t keep “bad food” in the house. “Not even ‘for the kids,’” cautions Jess McCoy (@jess_mccoy). It will be too hard to resist.
- · Go meatless once a week. Or start with just one healthy meal per week (more good advice from Jess McCoy). Need ideas? Try rice and beans three ways.
- · Get to know your spice cabinet. Use spices and citrus (like lemon juice) to flavor dishes first, before adding extra butter or oil. (Tip: Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal, Ph.D. is an excellent resource.) Thomas Lynch III (@TELynch) says cutting fat and reducing total daily calorie intake even marginally will help you “watch the weight fall off.”
- · Meet a farmer. Farmers don’t grow high-fructose corn syrup-laden products. Farmer Rick Hood of Summer Creek Farm teaches classes at Common Market during the winter, including February classes on plant starting and advanced organic gardening (class info, PDF). You can also meet many of Frederick’s farmers at the county’s thriving farmers markets. Bonus: talking to farmers is a great way to get kids more interested in vegetables.
- · Buy fresh produce in small quantities. It’s hard to resist those warehouse store deals, but are you really going to use a 5-pound bag of avocadoes before they turn to mush? Keep a list on your fridge, or an “Eat Me First” bucket. Use your produce before you buy more. There’s nothing more discouraging to one’s healthy-eating resolve than a crisper overflowing with wilted, browning produce.
- · Have a plan before 5 p.m. When you’re tired and hungry after a busy day, it’s easy to order takeout or default to comfort food. Instead, make a menu plan for the week before you shop. Think about dinner when you’re getting everyone out the door in the morning. That way you’ll have time to defrost things, pick up fresh ingredients, or even pre-chop some vegetables for soup or stir fry.
Need extra motivation? Find a buddy and make the change together. And remember, you don’t have to do everything. Pick one small change, and make it happen.
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