Today is National Healthy Eating Day, a day organized by the American Heart Association to raise the awareness of the need to make healthy eating choices as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. One would think this isn’t something we need to raise awareness of and yet, at this time of year, this is exactly the reminder we need. It’s so easy to get caught up in rolling from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas and suddenly it’s January and we’re wondering what happened!
The American Heart Association’s Healthy Eating home page has a lot of easy information for getting started if you’re looking to make some changes for the better. It can be surprisingly easy for little choices to add up.
This weekend, I was craving P. F. Chang for some reason and rather than giving in to my old favorite Dan Dan noodles (YUM!), I decided to make a healthier choice of ginger chicken with broccoli, steamed and with brown rice. I ate half of it and saved the rest for lunch on Monday. Was it perfect? No. All of the sodium had my hands all swollen for a couple of days, but it was a happy meeting of satisfying the craving with a real world healthier choice.
When it comes to making healthy eating choices, I definitely try to make the better choice more than worrying about the perfect choice. Rigid focus on “perfect” can be a problem, largely because we don’t actually know what “perfect” is when it comes to a healthy diet. Rather than stressing about getting it exactly right (and either not tackling healthy eating at all because it is too hard or falling into a binge because it gets too restrictive), I focus on adding things and making swaps that are healthier.
These are common tips, but that’s because they’re good ones:
- Eat more veggies! Adding something unquestionably good for you can help fill up and leave less room for the less healthy options.
- Be prepared: Everything from meal planning to snack planning to checking out restaurant menus ahead of time can make it easier to make healthy choices. The more we set up our environment to make the healthy choice the EASY choice, the more often we’ll get it right.
- Don’t trust those cute little labels or words like “healthy,” “natural,” and “low-fat” (or low whatever): Read the actual nutrition label and ingredient lists. The serving size (which can be eye opening) and actual nutritional breakdown are there so you can see if it fits your needs and where the swaps have been made in the name of that flashy label on the front. For example, low fat may mean a lot of sugar.
One of my favorite pieces of healthy eating advice is to make the next good choice – don’t worry about the big picture of the rest of your life, just the very next choice you have to make. Make it a good one. 🙂 Maybe that can be our goal for celebrating National Healthy Eating Day – to make the next good food choice.
How do you make healthy eating choices?
For more reading and tips