Top 10 steps to becoming an enlightened eater

Fo Puglia.B How to eat well on auto-pilot

Well, it’s  a few weeks into the new year and chances are that most of your resolutions have already fallen by the wayside.  Unfortunately, all too often,  the resolve to eat better is one of the first to go. But why not make this year different?

Instead of  resolving just to eat better, why not make up your mind to change your eating habits? After all, habits are what you do on auto-pilot. You don’t have to spend hours on end to make habits happen.

But to change habits, you need to be aware of the bad ones are before you can get rid of them.

Be critical, not judgmental
Instead of just lamenting your already falling off the healthy eating wagon, use these situations to your benefit. Figure out how to get back on the wagon by learning about yourself and what leads to trouble on the healthy eating front. Be critical of what you’ve done, that is examine the situations carefully to see how it happened, but don’t be judgemental. There’s no room for that when you’re trying to make changes.

For example, does skipping lunch send you home later in the day feeling like a bottomless pit?  If so, maybe put in place some easy solutions to eat a quick lunch on a busy day. If you’re at work, take some keep  easy protein-rich options with you or keep some in the fridge. Individually wrapped portions of lower-fat cheese or ready-to-eat cans of tuna can fit the bill.

Have some whole grain crackers and dried fruit alongside. Not only will the quick lunch help you avoid endless nibbling at night but it will also help make you more productive during your busy day.

Over the next few days, I will provide 10 suggestions that can help provide the foundation to make smart food choices. But keep in mind, that if you have a busy life, you can’t possibly tackle them all at once. Work on one or two at a time and by the time 2014 rolls around, you won’t be resolving to eat better. You’ll already be an enlightened eater.

•    Don’t aim for perfection
Nobody’s perfect and when it comes to eating, if you do achieve perfection you likely have an eating disorder or you have a staff of people to look after your every need. Look at the progress you are making rather than the mistakes you’ve made.

•    Focus on what you should eat, not what you want to cut out
If you focus on eating your fill of fruits, veggies, whole grains, dairy products and the like, then you won’t have too much room for the foods you’re trying to cut down on. It’s definitely an easier approach.

•    Eat real food not just supplements
Studies extolling the virtues of all kinds of nutrients continue to be published at a fast and furious pace.  And while scientists  seek to identify various components for their roles in fighting disease, research shows that nature’s chemical brew can’t yet be beat.  Vitamins, minerals, fibre and  phytochemicals may all interact leading to powerful combos that can  keep us healthy.  Downing large doses of supplements  may also result in imbalances of nutrients  – just the opposite of what you want.

•    Eat a balanced breakfast
OK- I know you’ve heard this one before – too many times! But without the foundation of a healthy breakfast, you don’t stand a chance of changing your habits. Sure you can use willpower and discipline to eat well, but why not make it easier. Research shows that what you eat at the start of your day can play a major role in what you eat even through the late afternoon through to the evening.

And if you have overeaten the night before and don’t want to face a morning meal, eating the right balance at breakfast can stop you from repeating it the next night. So do it even if it doesn’t appeal that morning. The results will be well worthwhile.

Besides boosting metabolic rates or calorie burning capacity, fuelling your body early in the day when it needs food can help tell stave off periods of low energy and the resulting cravings.

•    Eat every three to four hours
Think of meals and snacks as opportunities to boost your nutritional intake. If you’re not hungry when you’re on the go through the day, you likely overeat when you’re more relaxed.   Eating regularly, over time,   can  aid you in recapturing your appetite control – knowing when you’re hungry and when you’ve had enough. It can help to make overeating a thing of the past.

Next up:  Top 10 steps to becoming an enlightened eater – part 2

What steps are you taking towards becoming an enlightened eater? If you consider yourself a healthy eater, what  habits do you think are key in helping you achieve these goals? Please share in the comment section below.

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Categories: Tips and Tricks

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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