Photo by Gabriel Gurrola
Hard work, late hours, frequent travel. For many of us it does not seem to correlate well with a healthy balanced diet. I totally agree that when your office or a client is in a remote area, it does not help that you can only get greasy pizza on delivery. Or, when your team orders in, that they always order way too much food from your favorite Indian place. But there are ways in which we can influence our relationship with food and create healthy habits. A few tips from personal experience.
Create your individual healthy diet
Photo by Lauren Mancke
You will not hear me say dieting does not work. For some it might give the success they need. But most of us follow a temporary diet to compensate for a regular unhealthy diet. Effects are often short-lived as many fall back into previous habits to repeat the cycle all-over again when pants are getting tight.
I don’t have the golden diet for you. Based on experience over the years, I have learned what works for me, what gives energy, and what does not. What I like, my family likes, and what we don’t. There is not just one type of healthy diet that works for everyone. Plainly because our taste buds are different, and we don’t like similar foods.
But deep inside, we all have a general understanding of what is healthy and what is not. So, start there, challenge yourself to think about what you put in your mouth. A first step to creating your own healthy way of eating is, very simply, paying attention to what you eat and reading the labels of products you buy. Which brings me to the next tip: Understand your food.
Understand your food
Photo by Natalie Rhea Riggs
Overtime, human beings have been able to preserve food better and process it in ways that make our taste buds dance. Unfortunately, this has led to a lot of different additives to foods that are not always necessary and sometimes considered harmful. But most of all, it brought us further away from understanding what we eat.
Learning about how your food is prepared will help you appreciate whole foods, the pure taste of fresh fruits and vegetables. Challenge yourself to buy less processed foods and more whole foods. You’ll notice, it’s not always easy and we have grown accustomed to convenience. If you do happen to buy processed products, of course I do too, keep this in mind if you check the label: the less ingredients the better, and next to being able to pronounce the ingredients, try to understand them.
Next to eating whole foods, I like to strive for a balanced diet of carbs, fat and protein, and ensure I get the required vitamins, minerals and water. But I do not keep count. By eating enough and a variety of greens, legumes, starches and fruits daily, I am pretty sure I get enough of it all.
Find healthy alternatives one step at a time
Photo by Brooke Lark
Do you find it hard to change your daily meals into healthier ones?
Start easy. Take for example breakfast. Are you now eating granola with tons of sugar? (Check the label for no added sugar). Try to find a muesli replacement which you enjoy. You can find natural sweetness in dates, raisins, etc. Or do you find it hard to change up your pasta at night? Try to replace your regular pasta with chickpea or lentil pasta.
You don’t like to cook?
There is no harm in buying ready made meals, just note that these are generally high in sodium and/or sugar. However, especially in cities like NYC, it’s increasingly easy to find healthy options on the go or even healthy delivery services. But, when your interest in food starts to take off, you’ll soon find it more exciting to spend time in the kitchen as well. An alternative: find a friend who you can team up with and cook for each other.
You like to cook, but short on time?
Think about short cuts such as pre-cut, canned (look for low sodium/no salt), or frozen foods. Fresh might taste better, but the canned or frozen option can be very convenient and have an almost if not similar nutrient level. Alternatively, plan your cooking days (in the weekend) and do some batch cooking for the week. There are some great ways to ensure you eat a balanced and varied diet that do not require large time commitments nor break the bank.
Eat often to avoid overeating
Photo by Kaitlyn Chow
When time crunched, we often forget to eat. When we eventually find those 10 minutes and are starving, we generally tend to go for the large and often unhealthy meals. And regret it 10 minutes later…
Bring snacks that keep you going until lunch or dinner. Bring easy fruits or veggies such as apples, mandarins, grape tomatoes, little peppers. Next to these, I always carry some type of nut-based snacks I like to make for myself and my toddler, ones that are healthy but super tasty at the same time.
O, and did I say DRINK WATER? Throughout the day, a habit we should all have.
I am a trained health coach specialized in plant-based nutrition. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or need some help in getting into healthy habits!