The American Heart Association has designated Wednesday, November 7 as National Eating Healthy Day. It’s a day to encourage all of us to maintain a well-balanced diet and to stay active as part of a healthy lifestyle for heart disease and stroke prevention.
Eating Healthy Day focuses on small changes you can make each day. Until my boys Brad and Bo came into my lifeI never really put much thought into how I ate. As they got older and more active in sports and school, I started thinking about food and how it fuels the body. I felt like I could see a difference in my boys’ behavior after eating a whole balanced meal, as compared to a meal like chicken nuggets and fries. I was also trying to eat healthy but I wasn’t seeing a difference in my clothes and I seemed to be tired all the time.
I made an appointment with a nutritionist. I had no expectations, just a desire to learn more about food and a healthier lifestyle.I walked out of that appointment ready to start my new journey with small changes I could make.
1. Say NO to sugar. Easier said than done. Sugary mochas were a daily habit for me, so I switched to black coffee with a splash of milk. I also said “no more” to soda and opted for water at every meal.
2. Plan, plan, plan! The more you plan the better off you will be. Before I go grocery shopping, I write out all my meals for the week. I make sure each meal contains lean protein and vegetables.
3. Snack. When I first started my journey, I felt like Iwas eating all the time. I started my day with protein, ate fruit and a handful of almonds two hours later, then a salad and protein for lunch, carrots and hummus in the afternoon, and then dinner at 6pm. Putting good food in your body all day long keeps you energized and makes resisting the vending machine that much easier.
4. Reward yourself! If I told myself I would never have sugar ever again or a big juicy burger it would be a lie. Typically I allow myself a little leniency on the weekend. I am human and chocolate chip cookies still taste amazing. Just do it in moderation.
Not once did I tell myself I was on a diet. I wanted to make a lifestyle change, not just for me but also for my husband and kids. Since March of 2011 I am down 40 poundsand feeling great.None of the changes I made were drastic. They were all baby steps toward one goal. Not every day is easy and I could very easily go back to eating burgers and fries, but I feel so wonderful when I am eating the proper foods.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to start making changes for a healthier diet, no matter how small. For cooking and nutrition resources, visit heart.org/nutrition. The American Heart Association is also hosting the Family Fitness and Nutrition Night on Thursday, November 8. The event, sponsored by the Hermanson Company, is free to attend.