You’re busy, so much so you often don’t have much time to yourself. Family, deadlines and social events leave you running from one commitment to the next. You want to eat healthily and always have that idea of proper nutrition in the back of your mind; however, time demands and priorities leave you lacking the application to follow through.
Not addressing the issue has contributed to the creeping obesity phenomenon. Those little decisions you make every day without even noticing – such as ordering the high calorie, sugar-laden latte with a muffin because you didn’t have time for breakfast – really add up! You don’t notice the addition of a pound or two a year until a few years later when you are shocked at how you became overweight.
Do you really want to wait a couple more years and pack on extra pounds before taking action? Put in the small amount of effort now to maintain your health and prevent having to completely uproot and change your whole lifestyle later on.
Focusing on nutrition and eating balanced meals often is the key to healthy eating habits, which leads to stable blood sugar levels. Stable blood sugars give you the ability to have sustained physical energy and mental focus throughout the day, the ability to maintain a healthy body composition, and the ability to prevent chronic health conditions.
Blood sugars are a source of fuel for the cells in your body including the brain, and when they are stabilized by eating balanced regular meals, you feel satisfied and alert with optimal mental capacity and function. When blood sugars are too high because of the consumption of processed foods, sugar, white flour and alcohol, you feel anxious, shaky and easily distracted. Low blood sugar levels, triggered by post-spike crashes and skipping meals, cause you to feel irritable, tired, hungry and mentally slow. The exaggerated hormonal responses in either state can lead to weight gain and chronic health conditions.
Vegetable and whole grain carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats are digested slowly, releasing sugars into the blood in a sustained and balanced manner. Meals and all snacks should be comprised of mostly vegetables and fruits, a serving (3 oz.) of lean protein, a small amount (1 tsp.) of healthy fat preferably from fish, olive oil or nuts and a serving (1 cup) of starchy carbohydrates which include corn, potatoes, yams, quinoa, oatmeal and other whole grains.
Eating roughly every three to four hours, or five small meals a day, ensures only small fluctuations in blood sugars will occur, which your body will be able to effectively counterbalance. Also, eating regularly without skipping meals leads you to avoid unstructured eating such as binging, cravings and consumption of readily available convenience and junk foods.
Research shows that individuals who think ahead to what they will eat during the day through packing a lunch are more likely to eat a nutritious breakfast and make good food choices in the evening. For those who have required lunch meetings, you can pack morning and afternoon snacks, so you can avoid grabbing a pastry with your afternoon coffee run, and plan ahead what you will order before you arrive at restaurants as most list menus online.
Successful strategies to maintain consistent, healthy eating habits include some minimal prep work. Just as you would book an important meeting into your calendar, schedule time into your week, perhaps an hour, one or two evenings a week or on Sundays, to shop and prep your meals and snacks for the week. A great strategy is when you do cook dinner, make a large batch, which you can portion and pack up for lunch the next day.
Whether you want to have the energy to keep up with your workouts, look great on that next vacation, perform your best at a recreational sport, prevent chronic health conditions as you age, keep up with the kids or just enjoy a greater quality of life, you need to set goals now to make it happen and avoid falling into the creeping obesity trap. Choose one or two strategies you will incorporate into your daily life immediately and start creating a framework of healthy eating in your life. Realize what barriers and obstacles you will face and overcome them by creating a mental plan and through seeking assistance and support when needed.
For meal ideas, make one of these recipes.