8 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success for Healthier Eating
Whether you are trying to reduce your sugar intake or refined carb intake, or you are trying to build better nutrition habits such as starting the day off with a healthy breakfast, packing a healthy lunch for work, or cooking yourself and your family a whole foods dinner, here are 8 key ingredients for healthier eating.
These rules go for healthy eating in general but they also apply to cutting out sugar, or anything else you’d like to cut out.
- Make slow changes. Don't try to make an entire overhaul of your diet. Make a few small goals and work away at them. Celebrate the small victories and don't fret if you veer off a bit. Start each day fresh and new. Just because you weren't successful today doesn't mean that you can't be successful tomorrow. Don't use set back as excuses, use them as lessons and keep moving forward.
- Plan, Prep and Plan more. I cannot stress enough how important it is to plan your meals for the day. Planning brings more awareness to what you are eating, it reduces mindless eating and helps you put more thought into what you eat. Start by writing down what you will eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the whole week. Then make a list and go grocery shopping. If you have a list, you are less likely to buy a bunch of unhealthy food or foods that don’t fit into the meals you planned. Eventually, you will get into a groove and you won’t need to plan as much. You’ll probably settle into a routine of eating similar foods every week, and so a lot of the planning can just be done in your head. Planning and making lunch/dinner to bring to work with you the day before is really helpful as it takes any thought out of it the day of. I make dinner for my husband and I every night. We have roasted vegetables and meat, or Cobb/Greek salads. It's pretty simple but just writing it down at the beginning of the week again takes all thought out of it and making a healthy dinner with whole foods becomes a much easier task at the end of a long day. Planning also ensures that you always have a snack or meal on hand because it is when we get really hungry that we make irrational food choices and end up bingeing.
- If you are trying to reduce/cut out a particular food, try doing it Monday-Thursday, and try not to buy much of it on the weekend. Enjoy yourself at social events, and buy yourself a treat, however, be mindful of how much you bring into the house. If you do end up bingeing or bringing a lot of it into your house, don't be afraid to throw it all away on Monday and start fresh. Take it from me, it's empowering to throw away a half eaten box of cookies. The money has already been spent so it isn't a waste of money to throw it away. You will start your week off with control.
- Don't rely on your will power, keep it out of the house as much as possible. This is hard when you have kids or a partner who are into different foods than you. The best you can do is to just try to keep it out of sight, stashed in a cupboard, the freezer or a room you don't go in.
- Be aware of how certain foods make you feel and remember that feeling for when you are craving them. Try paying attention to how you feel after everything you eat. Make a mental note or write down what foods tend you make you feel crappy. They may be super delicious and worth the discomfort, but try to think about how you will feel after you eat something before you eat it. This has been really critical for me as I try to eat less refined sugar and carbs. I feel tired, lethargic, and my mood dips after consuming more than a taste or 1 serving of these foods. So thinking about that helps me say no in the first place.
- Fully Commit. If you don't really want to do it, then you aren't ready. You'll likely get discouraged quickly and end up feeling worse about yourself. Be honest. Is this something you want for yourself right now? Yes? Then do it! I have full confidence in you.
- Remember it is a process. As mentioned, I've been trying to eat better for almost 10 years now and I have come a really long way. It wasn't without set backs, and falling off the wagon several times though. Eating a healthier diet can help you feel better, more alert and focused, more confident, happier, improve your immune system, help you lose weight and decrease your chances of developing many age related diseases that could eventually kill you. What we eat has such a huge influence on our lives. And since it can be a long process to develop healthier habits, why not start now, so that when you are older, life is easier and more enjoyable than it would be if you had continued with fewer healthy habits.
- Always keep treats on hand for when you get hungry. Letting ourselves get too hungry, often ends up in irrational food choices and bingeing. Here are some ideas for satisfying snacks, whether you have a sweet tooth or gravitate towards savory foods.
Since I have a sweet tooth, I know I need to plan snacks to have everyday to keep me satisfied. Here is a list of foods I eat to keep my sugar cravings at bay. They are also the recipes I’ve been posting. I will continue to add to this list as I find new treats.
- Homemade Granola, sweetened with maple syrup, with plain Kefir (you could use plain yogurt or greek yogurt) and blueberries.
- Banana and peanut butter or other nut butter.
- Cashew cookie dough balls with sugar free chocolate chips (you could use dark chocolate if you are just trying to limit sugar, there’s only a few chocolate chips in each anyway). Cashews are high FODMAP so I have been eating less of these, but they have a really satisfying cookie dough-like texture.
- Refined grain-free Banana muffins - the main ingredients are bananas, oats and honey. I used unsweetened Baker’s dark chocolate, that I cut into chunks and it was just as tasty. I make almost a batch a week. And the good thing is that if you do decide to binge and eat three, you’re really only eating 1 banana, a tbsp of honey and ½ cup of oats, which is way better than what I was bingeing on before!!
- Banana Pancakes as a weekend breakfast treat. Add fruit, nuts and seeds and my fav, real maple syrup.
- Peanut butter cups - salty and sweet. I have one recipe on my website that is a mix of chocolate and peanut butter, but very soon I will post a recipe for the more conventional kind, with the butter butter filling centre so stay tuned!
- Kombucha tea - so satisfying if you are a lover of carbonation. It is a great transition drink if you are addicted to pop. There is about 7 g of sugar per serving (the type I buy, Rise, which is half a bottle), but it is cane sugar (which is a lot better than high fructose corn syrup) and it contains a lot less sugar than a pop and also has probiotics. My stomach hurts when I drink pop, diet pop, or even the stevia sweetened pop - Zevia, but when I drink Kombucha tea I don’t get a stomach ache at all. Win!
- Fruit - after going sugar free, fruit has become incredibly delicious. It actually tastes so sweet to me now, literally like candy. I really only have one serving and I’m satisfied.
- Chocolate Sauce - Add 1-2 tsp of unsweetened cocoa powder with just enough maple syrup to make a sauce and just eat that with a spoon. You can also add it to:
- Nice cream - Frozen bananas blended with milk or plant milk. Top with the sauce above, or add fruit or dark chocolate. Its sweet, and filling.
Here are some ideas for those people who crave more savory snacks.
- Meat and Cheese
- Nuts and seeds
- Pickled vegetables (without sugar) and olives - the salt is really satisfying
- Eggs, cooked anyway. Add vegetables, cheese and herbs for added flavour!
- Miss Vickie's Original Chips - there are only three ingredients, potatoes, oil and salt- all whole ingredients. They aren't the healthiest snack, but they are better than other chips that have a long list of ingredients you can't pronounce. You don’t have to get this brand; any brand with just those three ingredients will do. I like to measure out a bowl full so I can keep track of how much I'm eating. That way you don't mindlessly eat and later look down to realize you've eaten half/the whole bag.
- Cloud bread with melted butter, cheese and garlic. Add herbs of your choice.