Healthy eating: Where to start?

When it comes to eating I’m either a big time minimalist or a big time over-eater. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t suffer from bulimia or anything, it’s just that my eating pattern isn’t that healthy. Most of the time I forget to eat. As long as I don’t feel hungry, I just don’t think about eating. Which results into forgetting to lunch and not drinking enough (because I only remember to drink something when I get thirsty). On the other hand, when I do eat, I eat A LOT! And that wouldn’t be such a problem if I was eating a lot of healthy stuff. But it’s mostly sugar. On the outside I just look like a skinny girl, but on the inside I’m a big girl! At a certain point I even got scared I might had diabetes. I was tired all the time, my eyes were hurting, I was short-breathed, if I had a small wound it would take forever for it to heal and I just had a overall feeling of not feeling so well. So I went to the doctor, got my blood checked and luckily everything was OK. But I still was feeling unhealthy. So what to do about that?

Some simple tips for eating and drinking more healthy right away:

  • Drink a warm cup of lemon water in the morning (just squeeze half a lemon into a cup of warm water). It’s good for your skin, immune system and digestive system.
  • Fill up a bottle with water (if you like, you can put some lemon juice in it as well) and put it in your bag. Every time you open your bag, take a sip of water. Make sure that by the end of the day your bottle is empty.
  • Bring along a plastic container filled with fruit and/or vegetables and a spork or something (Google it, sporks are funny little things) when you go somewhere. You can eat it when you’re waiting for the train to come, for class to start, for the kids to end swimming lesson etc.
  • Bring along your own lunch to work or school. This way you now exactly what’s on your sandwich and it saves a lot of money making your own lunch.
  • Skip the aisle with the sodas, candies and microwave meals. Just pretend they’re no part of your supermarket. But be aware you don’t make certain food off-limit. A natural reaction to not be able to have something you want, is you even want it more. It’s not a bad thing to eat a piece of chocolate or a cookie every once in a while. Just don’t eat it too much.
  • Make a shopping list when you’re going to do groceries. Stick to the list! It will prevent you from buying stuff you don’t need.

How to change your mind about eating healthy:

  • Think about the healthy stuff you really like. For me that would be strawberries, bananas, carrots, green beans, lettuce, lemons, mango, melons, tangerines, nuts, sauerkraut and spinach. Now go on a search for recipes with those ingredients and make them.
  • If you’re lazy like me and don’t really like preparing food all that much, prepare your meals in advance. I tend to forget making lunch, so in the morning I prepare my breakfast along with my lunch. So when it’s lunchtime (I set an alarm on my cellphone to remind me about it) all I have to do is take my lunch out of the fridge. You can also apply this to healthy snacks, like a fruit salad or anything, and to some stuff for dinner (I peel potatoes in the morning, put them in a pan with water and when it’s dinnertime, all I have to do is to turn on the hot plate).
  • When you really, really, really do not like to cook, do some research on easy meals. Like rice with green beans and egg. It’s healthy, it’s fast and it’s easy. So there really is no excuse for not eating healthy (and yes, I’m also talking to myself when it comes to this one).
  • Don’t think of food as a form of entertainment. Think about it as sustenance. You need it to stay alive, you don’t need it to fill in your time or the emptiness inside you.
  • Really, don’t skip breakfast. Even if you only eat a little in the morning, it’s still better than not eating anything at all. Breakfast is needed to start your metabolism. Also when you skip breakfast, you might start overeating during lunch.
  • Make sure you don’t eat too much meat and salt. Consider giving up meat once or twice a week (or more if you prefer). Most people already have enough protein in their diets without eating meat every day. You can replace meat with legumes, beans and tofu. Lower the intake of salt. Eating less salt can reduce the risk of heart disease. Using too much salt can causing you to dry out. Instead of using salt to flavour your meals, you can use cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, oregano, ginger, thyme and rosemary.
  • Eat about 5 to 6 times a day. Breakfast, in-between, lunch, in-between, dinner and, if you like, another in-between. An in-between is not a bowl of chips or a bag of candy. An in-between can be a little fruit salad, a slice of gingerbread or a small cup of herb broth (make sure it’s not to salty).
  • Make healthy eating more fun! Grow your own vegetables, visit a farmers market, make a notebook filled with all your favorite recipes, make cooking a family thing by involving your kids and/or spouse, spice up your lunch with a fancy (but healthy) sandwich, make your own bread.
  • It’s OK if you don’t like certain foods. You don’t have to like everything, so don’t force yourself into eating it. I really dislike leek, so I’m not going to put it in a meal, because if I do, I won’t finish the meal. Don’t make eating a task for yourself, be kind to yourself.
  • Healthy eating doesn’t have to be a burden. Yes, it might be a little bit more work than putting a pizza in the oven or heating a can of soup. Yes, you will fail sometimes when trying something new. Yes, your kids, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend might complain about what you’re cooking, claiming they don’t like all that healthy stuff. Ignore it. Ignore the amount of work you have to put into it, ignore the failing, ignore the complains. I’ve set one simple rule about eating in my house: You can pick one thing you really don’t like and I will take that one thing into account while cooking (my boyfriend really doesn’t like onions and I’m about to throw up when eating leek, so those two things are not going to be found in our fridge). For everything else: Take pot luck.

If you want to change your eating habits, but don’t know where to start, visit your doctor for advice. If you think you might have diabetes, go see your doctor as well. It’s never too late to start eating healthy.

Remember: Everything that has “too” in front of it (too much, too salty, too little) is not good.

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