A nutritional lifestyle
Timothy Hennessy, RHN, RNCP
A week-long healthy eating plan can help you change your habits and embrace a healthy eating lifestyle.
Do certain stimuli make you reach for food, even though you might not be hungry at the time? Do you eat as an emotional response? What triggers this reaction?
Keeping a journal of when and what you eat may show patterns you may not be aware of. When you understand why you eat the way you do, it becomes easier to make long-lasting changes. As in medicine, better results are achieved when we treat the underlying causes, rather than the symptoms.
Here are some healthy suggestions, along with a week-long eating plan, to help you create an effective nutritional lifestyle. Check our Web exclusive at alive.com for an additional three-week menu plan.
Eat Whole Foods
Pay attention to where your calories come from and not just how many you are consuming. Foods that are high in refined sugars, including many packaged and refined foods, cause our blood sugar levels to rise and fall abruptly. Rapidly dropping blood sugar levels create cravings for the same foods to bring these levels back up.
Whole foods are foods that are in their natural state (nothing added, nothing removed) that supply complex carbohydrates, help regulate our blood sugar levels, and reduce these cravings. A balanced diet should include a variety of whole foods in moderation.
Schedule Time to Eat
Changing how you eat is just as important as your food choices. Mealtime should be an activity you schedule time for. Sit down and relax into the ritual. The more involved you become in the process of preparing and serving a meal, the less likely you are to eat and run. This act of self-respect means you care enough about yourself to eat well. Feeling good about yourself allows you to move away from old eating patterns with confidence.
We are most active during the day, so make breakfast and lunch hearty, protein-based meals; focus dinner selections on complex carbohydrates to lessen the digestive load while sleeping.
Eat a midmorning and midafternoon snack to keep the metabolism active. Raw vegetable sticks and unsalted raw nuts and seeds make great snack choices as they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and beneficial enzymes.
Fresh fruit, half an avocado, low-fat yogourt or kefir, salsa, and organic corn chips are also satisfying choices. Remember, no snacks after dinner. The body needs to spend its energy on rest and repair, not digestion.
Most restaurant kitchens are happy to please, so don’t be afraid to ask; it’s your food dollar and they all compete for it. Ask for extra vegetables, hold the salad dressing, and ask for olive oil and vinegar or a wedge of lemon instead. Order your fish or chicken grilled, baked, or steamed. Rich sauce? Have it on the side or omit altogether.
Introduce variety into your diet by exploring different ethnic cuisines, spices, and condiments. For example, one teaspoon of balsamic vinegar has only five calories, but the flavour it imparts is without measure!
Healthy Eating Habits
Changing habits can be challenging–replacing old habits with new ones is a slow, steady way to win the race.
Foods to Avoid
Foods to choose