With March coming to a close, it’s a good time to review our eating habits, after all, March is Nutrition Month and most of us could still learn a few new things about nutrition. Making big changes in our habits are usually very challenging and often lead to failure. A better idea is to make very small changes. These lead to small successes, which add up to big successes… and there you are! To that end, the Dietitians of Canada are asking us to make just one small change in how and what we eat, one meal at a time.
Before getting too far ahead, we should consider how to make goals easier to achieve. Research, and experience, has shown that when you make a goal and share it with people around you, it is far more likely to be accomplished. The first step is to make a healthy eating goal —make it simple then stick to it.
Setting yourself up for success can be relatively simple. Start by getting your pantry ready with nourishing foods at hand. Stock up on the right ingredients for nutritious, tasty meals and snacks. Another easy step, and a small change, is to fill your plate with more vegetables; choose fruit as a snack; or change to whole grain bread. After all, what’s available is what you will eat. And yes, quality matters, so start the day with breakfast to give your body the energy it needs.
Plan ahead and make extra food so you can pack homemade leftovers for lunch or have a meal ready for another day. And by seasoning your food with flavourful herbs and spices you can reduce how much salt you consume, another example of a small but effective change.
Mindful eating takes the often-rushed process of meals and pulls it back a bit. Do this by focussing on the foods you are consuming, the texture, and the flavours. Avoid eating in front of the television or computer. Instead, immerse yourself in the flavour of your food and enjoy it, one bite at a time.
Some other ideas to help you succeed: Post your goals on the fridge or at your desk to keep them top of mind. Make a meal plan so you know what foods you will be cooking and eating, and to help create your shopping list. Ensure you have good food choices on hand for meals and snacks: put out a fruit bowl; keep a bottle of water at your desk; prepare cut veggies and keep them at the front of the refrigerator.
It might also be time to try something new or even creative! Maybe it’s time to experiment with new foods and flavours. For some terrific (and yes, healthy) recipes, visit Cookspiration for ideas.
Cookspiration is just one of several smartphone apps available free from Dietitians of Canada. There is “eaTracker” that makes diet journaling easy. And “eaTipster” is a free iPhone app that serves up a new healthy eating tip every day.
Any number of small changes can help you eat better and more nutritiously. Make a few simple changes, and then build on them for surprising, and healthful, results.
Written by Dr. Paul Martiquet, Medical Health Officer for Rural Vancouver Coastal Health and Meghan Molnar, Community Dietician