The simple truth, and we hear it everywhere, is that eating better makes us healthier. Unfortunately, for many of us, eating can be the hardest thing to control. Our favorite tastes, our budgets, our busy schedules, and the food choices we have to make every day can make it seem impossible to "eat smart."
Here are three simple things we can do to start eating better today:
- Set Our Own Goals. Make a plan that works for us and allow ourselves to be realistic when setting goals. If we try to reduce the calories, fat, saturated fat, and sugar in our diet AND promise to make a drastic change in our physical activity level, we may be setting ourselves up to fail.
TIP: Instead of trying to make many big changes all at once, set smaller, more realistic goals. Then, add a new challenge each week.
- Know What We Eat? Conduct an inventory of our meal/snack patterns. What we eat varies each day. One day we might be on track and the next splurge on huge amounts of our favorite foods.
TIP: Keep a food journal. Write down not only what you eat, but where, when, and what you were feeling at the time. After doing this for a week or so, you will see what triggers hunger and what satisfies you.
- Give Yourself a Break. Accept setbacks, but don't give up trying. All of us sometimes give in to the temptations of our favorite, not-so-healthy foods. If this happens to you, cut yourself some slack and move on. For example, if you have a huge breakfast, just be conscious of eating an extra healthy lunch and/or dinner. You don't have to "throw out" the whole day for giving in to one temptation. Eat smaller portions of the foods you love. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Eat less animal fats, salty or sugary snacks.
TIP: In addition to eating extra healthy the rest of the day, add in some extra physical activity to your day. This can just be a brisk walk, bike ride or even yard work.
The information on this site is just the beginning. Our partners, including the American Heart Association, Eat Smart Move More NC, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have each created in-depth sites that will provide you with more detailed information and help you and your family eat better.