How to handle potholes on the road to healthy eating
We all know we should be eating healthier. The short- and long-term benefits are innumerable and proven.
Among other numerous benefits, healthy eating and physical activity help improve control of blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, decrease risk of chronic disease and assist in weight loss.
On the road to healthy eating, though, there can be a lot of potholes. Of course, they’re different for everyone. For some people, eating out can be a problem. For others, portion control can be the issue.
“To someone, a cake at a party may not be an obstacle. To others, it could be the beginning of the end,” says Calee Gibbs, a registered dietitian and diabetes educator for Aurora Patient Education and Nutrition in Milwaukee, Wis. “Identifying your specific obstacles and where and when you are triggered can be helpful in learning how to plan ahead.”
Find your personal potholes. A pothole for you might be something as simple as a handwritten menu, which may lead you to believe menu items are healthier. Or it could be that you’re accustomed to the big portion sizes that are a staple in the U.S. Studies have found that even if you know the correct portion size, it can be easier to choose healthier foods instead of eating less.
Whatever your personal pothole, Gibbs says being mindful when you are eating can help keep you on the healthy eating path.
“Sitting down and having a conversation with your family members while eating and avoiding the mindless eating in front of the TV or while looking at our phones can make a huge difference,” she says.
Mindfulness can also help you discover if your hunger is truly hunger or if you are emotionally eating or eating out of boredom.
“Getting to the root of what is causing the feelings and attacking that issue can be beneficial,” Gibbs says. “If you fix the trigger, you can often avoid the signs and symptoms of emotional eating altogether.”
Finding the right approach to healthy eating is important, too, Gibbs says.
“Some people have to make rules for themselves and can follow them well while others can choose to say, ‘No, thanks’ in any circumstance,” she says. “Do some soul searching and identify what you need as a person or examining what you want to change most can be the best way to figure out how to prevent failed ‘diet attempts.’ The goal is small, achievable lifestyle changes to accomplish bigger goals.”
Working with a dietitian can help find out what your personal potholes are as well as help you create a plan you can stick with to stay on the road to healthy eating.
Should you be focusing on healthy eating? Take a quick, free assessment to learn more about your healthy weight range by clicking here.
About the Author
Heather Collier works in Advocate Aurora Health’s public affairs and marketing department. She is based in Milwaukee.