Like anything that has to do with health, I am not a medical professional. The things I share have been due to my own observations or experiences, in addition to things I’ve learned in college courses.
- Activity can lead to better nutrition. Personally, the more active I am, the healthier I want to eat. When I need the proper nutrients to fuel my body pre or post workout, I’m more likely to go for something healthier versus something that’s nap-inducing.
- Carbs. Fat. Protein. I’ve heard numerous people state that they will be eliminating carbs or fat in order to lose weight. However, your body uses carbohydrates for energy first, followed by fat, and lastly, protein. Don’t eliminate them, choose the right ones. Opt for complex carbohydrates and unsaturated fat (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). You also probably don’t need as much protein as you think you do. More on that here.
- Sugar intake. It’s recommended that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons (24 grams) of added sugar per day and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men. I encourage you to read food labels for sugar particularly, especially foods and snacks that are thought to be healthy.
- Prepare healthy snacks. Maybe you don’t have the time or organization to prepare your meals for the week, but what about snacks? Keeping healthy snacks on hand and ready to go can keep you from reaching for the cookies or chips when you’re hungry but don’t have time for a meal. Prepare the snacks, like peeling and cutting a cucumber, the day you buy it and put it in a container that’s visible when you open the refrigerator. This will save you from forgetting it’s in there, not cutting it another day because you’re short on time, and, ultimately, wasting it.
- Portions. In America, our portions are out of control and our variety of food types can be limited, especially when dining out or grabbing fast food. Educate yourself on proper portion sizes and what a well-rounded plate should look like. You can find those resources here.
- Finish your plate. As children, we’re often told to finish our plate. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to. Instead, eat until you’re comfortably full and save the rest for another meal.
- Plate size. If you are struggling to lose the ‘finish your plate’ mentality, try using a smaller plate. Our eyes can help us play tricks on our brain, making us believe we’re eating more than we really are. If your small plate looks full of food, you’ll think you’ve eaten plenty. If you put the same amount on a large plate where there is plenty of extra space, you’ll think you didn’t have enough.
- Know your body and its needs. A couple years ago, I started to become very mindful of my salt intake. However, it was discovered that my blood pressure was always very low and I would experience dizziness. It turns out, salt can help increase your blood pressure. Now that I’ve added in a reasonable amount of salt to my diet, my blood pressure is normal and dizziness is extraordinarily rare. Something you think is helping your health can actually be hurting it.