Eating food as a means of survival is how we function properly throughout the day. While we spend time preparing the meals that will keep our bodies moving as we work, play and relax, it’s important to consider the eating habits that influence our everyday lives.
Fatigue, weight fluctuation, physical changes in appearance and constant shifts in concentration can indicate signs of unhealthy eating habits. Taking a few minutes to evaluate your own diet and asking yourself what good eating habits you can apply to your daily schedule can help ensure a healthier future for your mind and body.
Implementing Habits of Healthy Eating
Although investing in your health can be life-changing, it can be challenging to take the first step.
Whether fear of change or not knowing where to start is holding you back, realizing you want to create healthier eating habits is already a step in the right direction. To make the process as easy as possible, invest in this three-step plan to cultivate healthy eating habits catered to your personal nutrition goals.
The first step to introducing healthy eating habits into a daily routine is to reflect on your current diet. Unhealthy eating habits can remain hidden for years if you don’t properly understand the contents of a nutritious diet. You may not recognize that your habits might influence your everyday life until the signs become physically visible.
A few signs of unhealthy eating habits may include the following:
- Weight loss or weight gain: This change is usually the most obvious sign of unhealthy eating habits. A diet without proper nutrition may prevent your weight from remaining steady. You might even notice that your body looks different.
- Hair loss or change in texture: Hair can help identify that you need to enforce healthier eating habits. Vitamin C, protein and iron are a few nutritional factors that strengthen hair follicles. Without these, hair can become brittle, thinned or even fall out.
- Wrinkles and skin roughness: Vitamins A, C, D and E keep skin young and healthy. A lack of vitamins may cause the skin to lose vitality and begin forming wrinkles, even for younger individuals.
- A decline in oral health: The acid produced when bacteria in your mouth consume sugar can quickly break down the surface of teeth, causing cavities. A lack of vitamin C also affects gum health.
- Changes in mental capacity: A loss in concentration, memory and energy may result from a lack of nutrients and proper calorie intake each day. Healthy eating habits can impact the brain just as much as a good night’s sleep.
- Uncomfortable digestion: A healthy diet can make bathroom breaks quick and easy. Foods high in fiber can make digestion simple, but lacking this nutrient can make this process distressing and sometimes even painful.
- Slow healing: Protein helps the skin and blood cells heal the body quicker. A lack of protein can cause the body to react slowly to scratches and other skin damage.
- Frequent illness: The body thrives off of vitamins and iron to strengthen blood cells. The body is not strong enough to fight off infections when they do not receive foods rich in these nutrients.
If some of these signs sound similar to your current situation, you may benefit from reflecting on your eating habits. To recognize your eating habits throughout the day, keep a journal or log of each food and drink item you consume. Writing down what you eat for each meal, snacks and dessert can reveal what may trigger unhealthy eating habits. This tactic also includes tracking any sugary drinks or alcohol.
Along with writing down which food and drink items you consume each day, track when you’re eating and drinking. You can then identify certain times when you might tend to snack on sugary or salty food options. It can also prove beneficial to write down how you felt when you decided to have a quick snack or drink. This method might be able to track an imbalance in eating habits such as snacking out of boredom, craving sweet food after work or having salty food when tired.
The spontaneous eating habits you take note of are called “cues.” These are instances that trigger unhealthy eating habits. Boredom, walking past a delicious snack and not knowing what to prepare for dinner all count toward what could become an opportunity to splurge on unhealthy food options. This reflection habit becomes a crucial step in exploring how to better your eating habits.
After recording these instances in your daily journal, ask yourself when and where you become tempted to eat these types of food. Allow your answers to become your new goal to avoid in the future when adopting healthier eating habits.
If you’re snacking during distracting tasks such as working, watching television or driving, there is a high chance you’re indulging in a practice known as mindless eating. This type of eating habit is most commonly associated with overindulging and can cause weight gain and health concerns.
To stray from this practice, separate eating meals from other activities. This strategy will allow the brain to associate the action of sitting down for a meal as a moment to eat nutritious food rather than a time to focus on other things.
Now that you’ve reflected on your eating habits, practice a healthy mindset when approaching food to replace old practices with a brand-new lifestyle. If you find yourself splurging on unhealthy foods and drinks that only provide temporary satisfaction more often than healthier options, you may find it helpful to practice mindful eating.
Use this mindset to help you slow down and reflect on the meal itself. Taking the time to evaluate each portion right to the source of nutrition can make you more aware of what type of food you eat. This practice also allows for a relaxing sit-down meal where you’re encouraged to slow down and process each bite. Taking a few extra seconds to chew your food can prevent overindulging too quickly.
Mindful eating centers your attention on the current moment. Try using your senses when eating to identify the food in front of you. Observing a portion’s smell, taste and texture is a commonly used psychological method to reflect on your current choices and assess your surroundings. It may sound strange from an outside perspective, but give this method a try to see how differently you view food!
Healthy Food Choices
Now that you know the method behind the eating, explore a few healthy food options to add to your personal menu. Here are some choices that can help encourage nutritious eating habits and replace unhealthy ingredients:
- Stray from food with high saturated fats and trans fats, especially those found in junk food.
- Change up your milk selection to fat-free milk and low-fat dairy products.
- Invest in high-fiber foods such as whole-grain bread and cereals.
- Minimize sugary drinks from your diet, such as soda, milkshakes and sweet tea.
- Include more fruits and vegetables in your meals, aiming for around 2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of veggies.
- Limit salt and sodium intake to below 2,300 mg a day, or lower if your doctor recommends a specific diet.
Using portion control to introduce healthy eating habits can help control calorie intake while balancing the necessary food types in each meal. This step in meal preparation helps maintain a healthy portion of food each day to ensure you don’t overindulge. Use measuring cups and spoons when preparing a plate to maintain proper portions.
Leftovers are a perfect way to save any extra portions for the next day and save you a bit of money in the process. Second helpings can also be tempting, especially if you still feel hungry after eating. Adding a 20-minute break following a meal can help the food properly digest and make the stomach feel fuller. You may not feel the need to reach for a second plate after a well-deserved break from meal preparation and eating.
Portion control does not mean cutting down on eating entirely. When practicing healthier eating habits, it can be tempting to want to skip meals for the sake of limiting calorie intake. However, this method limits the body’s nutrition intake and can cause more harm than good. Remember that your mind and body thrive off of receiving the proper vitamins and minerals, so it’s important to keep both satisfied each day through balanced meals.
Now that you have noted your eating habits and have established ways to become more mindful about the food you eat, reinforce these standards in your everyday routine. This process will take some time to get used to, and a steady goal-setting perspective can help you get on track to maintain healthy eating habits. Remember how far you’ve come in developing a healthier lifestyle for yourself and maybe for others.
Develop a Positive Support System Around You
Remember to be kind to your body. You’re going through a new change in life, and it’s essential to keep in mind that every little change is a step forward in the right direction. You are the one who decided to encourage change, so you have continued to be your biggest supporter from day one. This mindset includes supporting yourself through this new journey and encouraging others to share in that support.
Remember that habits take time to form into a daily routine and change cannot happen immediately. Take the process slowly to reflect on how these healthy influences work best for you and your personal goals.
It’s also important to note that no one is perfect on their first attempt at a new diet. Change can be a challenge that comes easier to some than others. But healthy eating changes are possible to achieve. Take the time to explore what shifts in eating habits you can handle and take it one day at a time. This step is vital for creating a healthier future, even if it does take a few tries to get right.
You can still enjoy your favorite foods! Enforcing healthy eating habits does not mean cutting out every food you love. Using portion control and a mindful eating perspective allows you to enjoy great meals more healthily. Instead of splurging on your comfort foods every week, try to make it a goal to have it once a month while you embark on a world of new flavors and cuisines. You may find that a healthier food option has now become your new favorite.
Think Ahead to Make Transitions in Diet Easier
Planning meals at least a week in advance can help reinforce healthy eating habits. Grocery shopping and meal prepping can be a bit challenging on an empty stomach, so start making healthier choices now to make future decisions easier. This step also includes packing lunches for work or trips instead of eating at a restaurant, making it easier to avoid temptation.
Healthy eating habits help improve overall health. But other factors are crucial in maintaining proper physical and mental health alongside a good diet. Reinforcing healthy eating habits includes improving sleep schedules and drinking more water. Eight hours of sleep at night can make you feel well-rested for a day filled with healthy eating, and drinking a cup of water before each meal can help you eat the recommended portions without going back for seconds.
Remember That Food Can Be Fun!
Reinforcing healthy eating habits may sound like a chore. However, this is the perfect opportunity for you to explore foods that you have never tried before. You can find nutritious food in any culture and restaurant. Don’t be afraid to try new things and discover what makes your taste buds happy.
Even if you prefer to stick to your own healthy diet choices, add some fresh spices and herbs to the recipe to get a kick of unique flavor to your favorite foods. This change can also help with portion control. Food with a rich taste can help you savor every bite, helping you feel full faster.
Learn How American Dining Creations Can Encourage Healthy Eating
At American Dining Creations, we care about how nutrition affects everyone’s health. That’s why our goal is to provide healthy meals to the hardworking patrons in colleges, health care facilities, stadiums, businesses and museums. Your culinary needs are our priority. Our cuisine options provide equally tasty and nutritious food for your establishment’s needs. With a variety of healthy food options, we can help maintain your personal goals and encourage better eating habits.
Reach out to learn more about our hospitality and culinary services today.