By Lauren Denos: 1/20/2015 (Nutrition)

Eating healthy is so important. In fact, when you think about the fact that our bodies are literally made up of what we eat, it makes it even more pressing of a subject. Most people know they need to eat healthier, but it is such a difficult area that they do not know where to start. How can you make eating healthier easier and more of a reality? We have a few suggestions that may help you along the path.

Create or find more interesting food ideas. One of the challenges people face is that they do not like what most people consider "health" food. Most people think of this as bland, plain foods when it does not need to be this way. There are so many recipes available now-a-days. You want to find recipes that sound good to you. For instance, plain chicken breast and broccoli does not sound good to many people. It is good if you are in a hurry or don't have much around, but otherwise that gets old really quickly. On the flip side, though, a chicken Marsala dish with spaghetti squash sounds and tastes far more interesting! Another good and healthy dish to try is coconut crusted fish with a mango relish. Health foods don’t have to be plain all the time. Just make sure that you are picking healthy recipes that are good as well as tasty.

Find tasty snack options. Snacking, for many people, is their downfall. Sure, we would be better off if we did not feel the desire to snack, but many of us do, so we might as well be prepared with healthy snacks. Snacks fall into a couple different categories that you need to be mindful of. One category is the hungry category. This is when you are actually hungry between meals and you need to grab something quick that has some substance to it. Nuts would be in this category, too. The other category is mindless munching. This is when you just want to be snacking. Some great snacks to keep around are crispy roasted green beans (you can get them at Sprouts or Trader Joe's), zucchini chips, kale chips or nut bars. You can also make different types of veggie chips on a dehydrator or in the oven.

Do not let yourself get too hungry. Getting too hungry is a recipe for disaster when you are getting your healthy eating habits engrained. When you let yourself get too hungry, you will wind up craving more of the foods that would not normally be in your menu. This happens for a few reasons. One is that your brain can not think as clearly, so you are going to reach for whatever is nearby. Another is that sugar is fast acting energy for our bodies. So when we let ourselves get too hungry, we crave that instant fuel. This could be sweets, breads, pastas, even dairy has quite a bit of sugar in it. Keep snacks with you all the time so that you do not have to let yourself get to this level of hunger.

Find ways to enjoy being in the kitchen. Do you enjoy being in the kitchen? You do not have to see the kitchen as a tortuous area. Instead, you can use it as your laboratory or canvas, a place where you can create and explore. If you decide to play with what is available, it will be fun. It will not always turn out quite like you want, but you will be having more fun with it. If the cooking part does not seem interesting at all, then combine kitchen time with something either fun or relaxing for yourself. You can watch a show or movie you like while cooking. Or you can have it be your alone quiet time. You can eat healthy without having to cook, but if you can find a way to enjoy being in the kitchen it sure does help.

Be prepared. This is one of the most important things when you are eating healthy or just beginning your healthy eating journey. Being prepared has multiple facets. One part of being prepared is to plan your meals. What do you want to cook this week? Keep in mind, too, that you can cook every night or you can cook one day a week. Putting the extra meals into Tupperware for easy weekly meals. If you choose to cook your meals every night, you still want to make sure you have some meals that you put in the freezer, just in case plans get messed up and you have no time to cook. This way you will still have meals ready. You always want to have quick options on hand, whether that is the frozen dinners or healthy canned soups. Having the quick choices on hand can make the difference between eating a healthy meal and having drive thru. This goes for deserts as well. If you are a big time sweets person, then find healthy alternatives so when you really want something sweet you know what a good option is. If you love deserts and you decide you are just going to give it up, it tends to backfire. Don’t go overboard with it. Instead of that, just find some healthy things that you can eat in moderation.

Know that it will make a difference in your health. Keep in mind what you are working towards. Whatever your health goal is, you want to keep that in mind because it will affect all the choices you are making. What you are putting into your body will have an effect on your overall health. Write down your health goals and keep them in a visual place so that you can see them all the time. This not only helps with your eating choices, but also with your workouts as well.

Make sure you are rested. When you are not rested, you do not feel at your best for making healthy choices. More than that, if you do not have enough rest, your body may crave more calories so it can get the added energy it needs to get you through the day without the much needed sleep that you missed out on.

Control your stress/emotions. Stress and emotions in general can be killers to our choice making. Many people are stress or emotional eaters. Have you had those times you decided “to hell with it, I am just going to sit down, watch TV and eat a pint of ice cream?” You knew it was not the best choice, but you did it anyway. It is better to have some outlets planned ahead of time. It could be a workout, a walk, some time with a friend, a motivational book, some uplifting music, etc. It is just important to have some options so you know what to do before these emotional times hit.

Eating healthy is a huge portion of the health equation, so it does deserve some attention. If you do these things now, you will wind up finding it a much easier path to travel. Test these out, and do not limit yourself to only these techniques. Any that work for you are ones to follow.



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