By, Sara Colman Carlson RDN, CDE
Consistency and Health vs. Weight Loss
Two of the most common reasons people make diet changes are weight loss and new disease diagnosis, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Success is often defined by a number. How much weight did you lose? What is your blood sugar or blood pressure? Forget the numbers and instead, focus on consistency and healthy habits. Why? Consistency is what helps make new behaviors become habits that stick. Embracing health benefits of new habits provides longer term incentive and motivation. Consider the following influencers.
The 3 energy providing macronutrients are protein, carbohydrate and fat. Following this new way of eating helped set you up with the right balance of these nutrients. Too many unhealthy food choices are likely to increase carbohydrates from excess sugars and starches, or increase fats from fried foods, dressings, high fat dairy and fatty meats. Aim to stay in balance.
Meal timing and spacing:
Following a meal schedule has also helped with healthy metabolism. Spontaneous eating often means eating when you are not truly hungry, making it easy to consume extra calories. Continue to pay attention to the timing between meals or snacks. Avoid eating from triggers, like the bagels or donuts in the work break room. Set yourself up for success by planning when and what you will eat to minimize spontaneous eating.
The experience of preparing meals at home from fresh ingredients and trying new recipes meant planned trips to the grocery store or farmer’s market. Keep it up! Plan your weekly meals. Always make a shopping list to avoid last minute temptations. Stick to a routine shopping day or have groceries delivered.
Takeout, fast food or processed meals:
Healthy eating doesn’t mean never eating out or grabbing a quick meal. However it helps to have a plan so you choose healthy options. Decide on a go-to items to order when you eat out. Know the best grab and go snacks and meals. Aim to continue preparing more meals at home. This will help lower the changes or relying on takeout, fast food or processed meals. Continue to tap into your inner chef and embrace making healthy meals.
Go low on salt and sweets:
You eat less salt and sugar when fewer processed foods are eaten. Home prepared recipes put you in control of ingredients and the healthiness of your meals. Lower sodium intake is linked to improved blood pressure. Lower sugar intake is linked to lower blood sugar, less insulin resistance and lower triglyceride levels.
Go high on fiber Fiber: is essential for a healthy digestive system. It prevents diverticulosis and constipation. It reduces the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer. Sources of fiber include whole grains such as barley, brown rice, cracked wheat, oats, and whole grain products such as whole wheat bread and pasta. Beans and peas are high fiber sources. Fruits, vegetables nuts and seeds are also good sources. Aim for 25 to 38 grams of fiber each day.
By now you are aware of the healthier fat sources like nuts or nut butters, avocado and olive oil. These fats are important to continue because they help provide satiety when you eat.
Be consistent with the portions recommended in your healthy, balanced plan. And, instead of focusing on the scale this month, focus on being consistency and healthy habits to reach your long-term health goals.