It’s that special time of year again, Nutrition Month! A whole month to celebrate making healthy eating and lifestyle choices and getting re-motivated to make a change.
This year Dietitians of Canada’s theme is “Take a 100 meal journey, make small changes, one meal at a time.” I really like this theme because it fits very well with my philosophy of forgetting about diets and realizing that healthy eating is a journey, not a destination. There are approximately 100 meals in a month and if you can make small changes daily, you can make a huge difference in your health by the time you reach 100 meals.
Throughout the month of March, I will be sharing nutrition tips on my Instagram, so make sure you’re following me there. As a sneak preview, I wanted to talk about three healthy habits that I’ve made in my life that I maintain and that I credit a lot to being able to maintain my weight, my health and my self-confidence.
1. Honour my hunger
Our bodies are amazing. They self-regulate the calorie intake we need if we let them do their job. Our bodies let us know when they need fuel and tell us to stop when they are full. However, too often, we ignore our hunger and fullness signals causing havoc on our system and making these signals unrecognizable.
Skipping meals, starving yourself on detox diets and low-calorie restriction all cause you to ignore your hunger signals. When my body signals me that it’s hungry, I eat. I don’t worry if it’s outside my set meal or snack time because I listen to what my body is telling me it needs. That doesn’t mean hunger strikes and I head to the nearest doughnut shop and grab a doughnut, that means that I plan and prepare healthy snacks to have available for times my body needs extra fuel.
I also listen to my body when it tells me it’s full. You do not have to finish everything on your plate! When you’re satisfied, put the fork down.
2. Meal plan
One of my favourite quotes is, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. A healthy lifestyle requires planning, period.
Meal planning and shopping for my groceries weekly have made a big difference in my health. I know what I plan to make for weekly dinners which take the stress out of evening meals and I have ingredients for healthy breakfast, lunches and snacks.
3. Consciously plan vegetables/fruit daily
Vegetables and fruits are the most important part of our diet. They nutrient dense providing vitamins, minerals and fibre. Yet, they are the easiest part of our diet to miss.
Once again, vegetable and fruit intake largely comes down to planning. I shop weekly to ensure that I have fresh produce in my household. But I also ensure I always have frozen vegetables and fruit on hand for times that my fresh produce is out of stock.
At every meal, I take a look at my plate and see if at least half of it is vegetables and/or fruit. If not, I find something that I can add.
Like everyone, I also have some unhealthy habits and there are a few that I want to focus on working on during Nutrition Month. One bad habit I have is eating too fast. I really like my hot food hot, so I tend to eat it very quickly. However, when eating quickly I am not eating mindfully and it’s easier to overeat. Learning to put the fork down between bites, chewing more thoroughly and taking my time with meals will be a challenge but a habit I hope to work towards this month. Additionally, I want to eat fewer meals in front of the TV, computer or my phone. Distracted eating is a bad habit which once again can affect my mindfulness and hunger cues.