Small Changes Equal Big Results
Expert’s Name: Robin Pruitt
We are creatures of habit. Think of the things you do every day…chances are there is quite a long list! Many of these habits are health promoting: brushing and flossing, getting 8 hours of sleep, walking the dog, etc. Some of our habits are not so healthy: grabbing for a sweet at around 3pm, having a second glass of wine because the first one tasted so good, skipping the stairs because you are short on time and the escalator is right there. The truth is that these habits form the foundation of your health, and making small changes to put healthier habits in your day can make a huge difference in how you feel. Here are some guidelines for new habits for your diet.
Front Load your Food
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day! Eating a good breakfastgets your metabolism started, and gives you energy for the entire morning. Skipping breakfast leads to a mid-morning energy slump, which can invite cravings for coffee or sweets. A healthy breakfast is critical for weight loss or maintenance, too. Giving your body fuel when it is going to be active is the smartest strategy to start your day off well. Here are a few examples of a healthy breakfast: steel cut oatmeal with low fat yogurt and fruit, eggs and whole grain toast with fruit, a fiber rich, whole grain cold cereal with fruit.
Lunchtime is no time to be cutting back, either. This is the middle of the active part of your day, and your body needs fuel to stay energized and alert. Having a nutritious lunch with lean protein, healthy fat and fiber rich vegetables will ensure that you get through your afternoon without hitting a wall of fatigue. It is normal, however, to experience a dip in your energy in the mid-late afternoon. This is a perfect time to go for a quick walk, take a 10 minute nap, or grab a handful of nuts. Any of these three choices will be helpful to get through the low energy time of day.
Dinner should be your smallest meal. This can be challenging, as in our society it seems like dinner is often the biggest of our meals. But when you think about your energy needs, it’s logical that you need less energy at the end of the day. Chances are you are going to be more sedentary after dinner, so why have it be your biggest meal? Having a smaller meal at dinner will also help you get a better night’s sleep and allow your digestive system to perform it’s detoxifying work more easily once you are asleep.
There are a few little tricks for helping to make your meals (in particular dinner) healthier. Try having your salad on your dinner plate, and your “dinner”, i.e. the meat or pasta, on the salad plate. This trick will help you naturally eat more salad and less meat or pasta. If you are the type who likes to eat all on one plate, you can easily have the salad or vegetable be the dominant portion on your plate, and have the meat or pasta as the smallest portion. What’s nice about this tip is that you’re still eating the same food you’ve prepared for your family, just in a way that is healthier for you! Chances are it will be healthier for other members of your family, too, and they will follow your lead!
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