I'm sure many of you, like me, are trying to do a little better in 2017. A new year always wipes the slate clean and gives us the chance to improve a bit - and I don't know about you, but I can always stand to do a better job with healthy eating.
With that in mind, here are a few easy ways to clean up your diet.
1. Watch added sugar.
More than ever, experts are sure that sugar, not fat, is the culprit in so many American health issues like heart disease. And added sugar is everywhere -- from obvious places, like sugary cereals, to sneaky ones like pasta sauce and mayonnaise. Being mindful of the ingredients in what you eat can be a game-changer for your energy level, skin, and weight. This one can be especially important when reaching for something that sounds healthy, like an organic fruit popsicle, and then realizing that each individual pop has 18 grams of sugar. (Not that this happened to me this week. Oh wait. It did.)
2. Snack plan.
Just like meal planning (which we'll get to), snack planning is something people rarely consider, but should. Back when I did The Whole30, I had to learn how to snack plan because there was so little I could "legally" eat. When I got hungry, I needed something immediate in my pantry or fridge to provide a little relief between meals, and I needed that thing to already be prepared - otherwise, I would head straight for the chips. When you get home from the grocery store, go ahead and make yourself a few little pre-portioned containers of snacks you can be proud of, like carrots and Greek yogurt, a small bag of grapes, or a container of nuts. It takes so little time and the payoff is HUGE. I actually bought the snack containers featured in the photo above and filled them up with snack food that I know I won't hate myself for eating. It's ready to grab in the fridge whenever I need it.
3. Swap desserts for fruit.
Ugh, I know. This one is annoying. And for the record, I don't mean you should do this 100% of the time because dessert is the best and sometimes you just have to go for it. But if you're anything like me, you eat dessert because you want something sweet at the end of a meal, and sometimes that means eating a dessert that isn't really that good. When we eat at home, I rarely make a dessert. Instead, Jordan and I have some plain Greek yogurt with granola and berries, or a couple of clementine oranges (that he makes me peel for him because he can't do it #marriage). It sounds like something on the truly skinny say, but it's a fact: fruit satisfies your sweet tooth. If it doesn't right away, give it some time - you'll be surprised how much you crave it. And if your sweet tooth doesn't ever completely go away, keep a secret stash of dark chocolate covered raisins in your cabinet that you don't tell your husband about.
4. Meal plan.
This one is similar to snack planning, but it lasts the whole week. I actually wrote a post on the benefits of meal planning that you can read here - suffice it to say that I'm a big fan. In addition to organizing your entire life and making your grocery store experience pleasant, it also allows you to be intentional about what you eat. I am definitely a grazer - I walk around the house eating a little of this and a little of that until I've accidentally spoiled whatever meal is next. Meal planning prevents that from happening because you aren't wondering, "What's for dinner??"
5. Sit down and eat.
Jord and I were talking about this just last night - making a meal an occasion is something we really try to prioritize. If I'm cooking (and I'm trying to cook at home at least 4 nights a week), then we set the table: placemats, napkins, cutlery, pitcher of tea or water on the table. We sit down, say the blessing, put on some music, and have dinner. Granted, we don't do this every time - we're still working on it - but on the nights we do, we both agree that it's so pleasant and a reminder that food is meant to be enjoyed and savored, not scarfed down or binged on. Sharing a meal with someone is really a holy experience, and it's so easy for me to forget that in the busyness of life.
SO. Are you working on eating better? Tell me what your game plan is. I always need some tips. Come on, Eileen. Spill.