Healthy Food Bites To-Go: Getting Started Eating Healthy

As we near the holiday feasting season, which officially kicks off on Thanksgiving weekend and continues on right past New Year’s, one might wonder why a column about getting started on healthy eating would appear at this time. Could I be eight weeks too early in getting aboard the “New Year, New You” train? I’m not inclined to think so. I would rather not appear in January of 2016 with an article on how you can lose the holiday pounds and get the New Year started eating right. That rhetoric is so yesterday.

The rather cool thing about getting started on the healthy eating path now is that every meal and snack is henceforth an opportunity to move the needle on feeling good. Why wait to come out of the powdered sugar haze of December in order to gather the courage and resolve to do better.
First things first: To start eating a more nutritious and energizing diet (and stick with it), you need the right mindset. This isn’t a diet. How you do anything is how you do everything. In principle, this yogic teaching suggests that our daily activities are a mirror reflection of each other. How we eat, sleep, work, study, exercise, interact with others socially… it’s all interconnected.

Of course, at holiday meals you are free to eat whatever you want. Those marshmallow-topped baked sweet potatoes and fried potato latkes might only come around once a year. So enjoy them. But you might consider the Japanese practice of Hari Hachi Bu which means to eat until you are 80 percent full. The popular option of pushing the chair away from the holiday table to loosen a belt hole is the norm. Being just a little less stuffed than the turkey has its benefits.
It is really those days in between the holidays that matter the most.

Here are a few healthy eating tips that you can employ immediately to feel healthier and happier:

Crowd out unhealthy foods.

Optimal nutrition is not having to give up favorite foods for those you have been told are good for you. It is about ‘Adding-in’ more fiber-rich plant-based foods: colorful vegetables – especially the leafy green variety, fruits with an edible skin and more whole grains. Do not settle for highly processed foods including ingredients such as white flour, white sugar and white rice. Crowd out your meals with fresh, unpackaged foods and your body will begin to crave healthier options. The trick is to have access to healthful foods at all times. Is there an apple or a bag of almonds in your backpack?

Avoid endless grazing.

Eat complete meals and sometimes pack your breakfast or lunch. Many of us have done away with traditional mealtime in favor of small meals that creep into all-day snacking. In the process, the body loses track of what calories have actually been put away. Prepare some of your food so you know exactly what’s nourishing you. Healthy eating habits are built.

Choose realistic healthy eating goals.

Be specific. Follow through. Will you refill your 16 oz. water bottle three times today? Will you brown bag leftovers from dinner tonight for lunch tomorrow? Can you eat without checking email or social media in order to eat mindfully?

Making healthier food choices does not require the start of a new year or a more convenient day than this one. All it requires is simply getting started. You will have earned your holiday indiscretions and have a jumpstart into a healthy new year.

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