A lot of people mistakenly believe that improving diet means some radical changes. The fact is that making a conscious effort to improving diet does not mean radical changes; it means simply considering what you are eating.
COVID 19 has really turned everyone’s life upside down, but it has also forced people to consider what they eat because they are doing most of their cooking at home these days. If you have taken a look at what you and your family are consuming and you are not happy with it, you are a few simple steps away from improving diet and nutrition.
The Rewards of Improving Diet And Nutrition
Your body has the capability of a fine-tuned machine if you fuel it the right way. Making simple changes that are focused on improving diet can help to build your immune system, have plenty of energy, lose weight, think clearer, and even help you to sleep better.
There is a lot of motivation for improving diet and paying more attention to what you are fueling your body with. Many people decide to change their diet to lose weight but often slip off the wagon once the pounds come off. If you really want to make some permanent changes to what you eat it is a process that starts with evaluating why you eat the foods that you eat.
For some people it is mindless snacking, for other people it is an addiction to carbohydrates, and still others it is the comfort that they find in food, that affects their diet. In the U.S., the obesity rate is very high. It is estimated that 39% of the adult population can be classified as obese. Additionally one out of six children is also obese.
Unfortunately, being overweight is not just an aesthetic issue. How you look is far less important than the havoc that being obese can have on your body. Obesity is related to:
- Over 60 diseases that are considered chronic.
- High risk of developing Type II diabetes and becoming insulin dependent.
- Higher medical costs across the board.
Obesity is not the only problem of a poor diet. Poor nutrition can lead to a wide range of issues from lack of energy to tooth decay. Improving diet can actually save you money on dental care. A diet high in sugars can promote tooth decay which can drive up the cost of dental care.
Some side effects of a bad diet can lead to a visit with gastroenterology for stomach pains, discomfort, and unusual bowel movements. Improving your diet can improve your health, your lifestyle, save you money, and give you the energy you need.
What Does Your Doctor Say?
Before you get started on improving diet, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Let the doctor do some blood work to evaluate your cholesterol, blood sugar, and other panels. As a matter of fact, you should get checked from head to toe. Make appointments with the dentist, go for hearing exams, eye exams, and any other diagnostic exams you have been putting off.
It can be very motivating to hear from medical professionals about how diet can improve health. It is also a good idea to get a complete check-up just so you have a baseline of your overall health.
One Small Step Can Lead to Painless Changes
There are some really extreme tips out there for improving diet, like throwing out everything in your pantry and fridge and restocking with only organic whole foods. While it would be great if everyone had access to the money to cover just throwing away their groceries, not everyone feels comfortable doing that.
You can make simple changes for improving your diet that can lead to bigger changes down the road. There is no need to go all commando and jump right into a situation that is going to make things hard to stick to.
Let’s start with some basic stuff. If you keep carbonated beverages like soda in your house, don’t. Sugary drinks contain tons of empty calories. Make water the drink of choice in your home. An eight-ounce can of coke has 100 calories and a whopping 26 grams of sugar. The USDA recommends that the average adult should keep their sugar intake below 100 grams. There are sugars and carbohydrates in just about everything you consume. You really cannot afford to give up over a quarter of your recommended sugar intake to one can of coke.
Other changes you can consider that are simple include:
- Using whole grain bread instead of white bread. This simple switch can reduce the number of sugars that you consume every day and add some good fiber to your diet.
- Consider other substitutes. Instead of using sugar in your morning coffee, use sugar replacement. Sugar replacements have come a long way taste-wise. You can even use them in baking.
- Go meat-free one day a week. Try some new recipes to incorporate more veggies into your diet. Make one day a week a day that you only consume vegetables.
Initially, there will be some pains, sort of like addiction recovery when you switch from sugar to a sugar replacement, and you have to introduce new bread and other new things to your family, but it will be okay. Your body may send you some signals at first that it is missing the junk food and sugars, but if you stay the course for a few days, you will reap the rewards. Improving diet by taking some baby steps will help you get your stride going and put you right on the path to better health.
Cooking at Home and Meal Prepping
You may love the family restaurants in your area, and by all means, you should visit and enjoy the time with friends and family, but do the majority of eating at home. Have you ever wondered why take out food and restaurant food tastes so good? Well, besides the fact that everything tastes better when you do not have to put the work in. Restaurants and fast food places add all kinds of fat and other ingredients that you likely would not use at home.
It is great to enjoy an occasional meal out, but cooking at home is better for your health because you know exactly what is going into the dish. A lot of people use their kitchen as an excuse to eat badly. If you need to make some changes in your kitchen to make it more cooking friendly it is well worth contacting a construction contractor that specializes in kitchen remodeling.
A recent survey found that over 70% of the people that recently had their kitchens redone reported that they were eating better. Don’t let the condition of your kitchen keep you from improving diet for you and your family. If your gas range is on the blink, call an expert in for gas range repair, if you need a new fridge, buy it. Make your kitchen the kitchen that you want to cook in.
Once you have your kitchen squared away make going out to eat a special treat reserved for special occasions. If you hate to cook then make it an event that the whole family gets involved in. Give the kids and your spouse kitchen duties to make the process easier for you.
If you are looking at improving diet for family members, especially elderly family members, you may have to take a few additional steps in the meal planning and prepping stage. Considering what your family members will enjoy may take some effort but it is worth it. How do you know what you should focus on to ensure the family enjoys the meals you prepare? Ask.
If you have elderly family members and you are worried about their diet because they live alone consider looking into companion home care, to have someone there with them to ensure they are eating well. Of course, you can always bring meals over to them if you are nearby.
Planning and meal prepping is an easy step in improving diet. When you go to the grocery store always bring a list based on your weekly menu plan. This will help you stay on track with what you are bringing into the house, and will also help you save money.
Grocery stores are experts at getting you to buy what they want you to buy. For example, you may be planning a homemade pizza meal. You have your list to get the ingredients to make your own pizza sauce that will be chockful of quality nutrition. Right over the tomatoes which is a staple for sauces, is a bevy of prepackaged sauce for pizzas. Why? Because the grocery stores know that making sauce from scratch is work, grabbing a jar of sauce is easy, and they make more money off that jar of sauce then do selling you five Roma tomatoes.
Stay the course. Make your list and put blinders on as you walk through the grocery store and come across all the processed prepackaged options. Processed foods are one of the worst things you can put in your body. The convenience is not worth it.
Spend a day out of the week or on the weekend getting all your meal prepping done if you have time. If you make big batches of food and freeze it, in essence, you are making your own fully microwaveable meals just like you find in the store, except they are healthier for you.
Working Up an Appetite
You should be hungry when you eat. That may sound like a silly piece of advice, but, much overeating is done out of boredom. Try this little experiment so that you can recognize when you are eating because you are hungry and when you are eating because you are bored.
When you first feel hungry, drink some water. Many times the body confuses feelings of hunger with dehydration. Drinking a full glass of water will subside the feelings of hunger if you are really lacking enough fluids, and not lacking fuel.
Do a little exercise. For example, if you have a pool (lucky you) and you pay for those swimming pool services, make good use of the pool, and use it for exercise. After you swim a few laps, note if you feel hungry or not. If you ate some breakfast before you went swimming you likely do not.
Now consider this, if you are sitting on the couch watching TV and find yourself in the fridge digging around during the commercial, yet after a swim, you are not hungry. Maybe what is happening is you are eating just out of boredom or habit not to nourish.
Part of improving your diet is getting in tune with the messages your body is sending you, and recognizing the mind-body connection. Do you eat more when you are sad? How about when you are stressed? Notice the times that you are eating mindlessly, and make moves to correct the underlying problem.
Sometimes it is not only what you are eating but when you are eating that can work toward your goal of improving your diet. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it fuels you for the day.
A lot of people will skip breakfast and not eat until lunchtime or even later. Unfortunately, if you do not eat something in the mornings, by the time that you do sit down to eat, you will be ravenously hungry and more likely to make bad choices.
Many people struggle with snacking in the evening because they are not getting enough nutrition during the day. The problem with eating in the late evening and into the night is that you are getting ready to go to bed, which means all those calories are not being used for energy.
Adjusting your meal schedule is an important part of improving diet. Here is sample meal timing:
- Between 7am -10am eat breakfast.
- Between 12pm-2pm eat lunch.
- Between 5pm -7pm eat dinner.
Staying on a meal schedule will help your body get used to recognizing when the energy is coming in. Make a deal with yourself the last bit of food you will consume will be at least 3 hours before bedtime. Changing how you eat can be a big part of improving diet.
Improving diet is a lot easier than you think. Start with those simple changes, and before you know it, your diet will be impressively healthy, and you will be reaping the rewards.