Question: How can I make healthy eating a priority throughout all the rest of my life - work, spouse, kids, school, errands...? It's much easier to "grab something" to go even if it's not a low-carb vegetable.
Answer: I couldn’t agree more. We all know that broccoli is healthier than a french fry...but there can be so many obligations that can get in the way of making the best choice. Time restraints, budget, food preferences, and work schedules are all very real considerations to acknowledge.
Recognizing the need to make your health a priority is step one. Anyone who says healthy eating requires minimal effort would be lying, and when you add in the diagnosis of diabetes it can make things a little more challenging. However, it is always worth it.
Ask anyone who has made significant changes to their lifestyle to reduce consumption of processed foods and increased their intake of fresh produce, whole grains, and lean or plant based proteins and it can be almost guaranteed that they will tell you they don’t regret it.
While healthy eating does require some effort in planning ahead, once you have set up your environment to favor this healthier lifestyle, making better food choices will become easier and easier over time, and your body (plus blood sugar!) will love the results.
Five tips to help make healthy eating a priority:
Change your environment: It is unfair to expect yourself to make healthy choices if there are junk foods or package convenience foods in every cupboard. Assess whether or not your home has tempting foods that would prevent your success. If you identify any of these items in your home, commit to replacing these items with healthier alternatives.
Think in simplified terms: Healthy eating does not have to mean extravagant and photo-worthy meals that you see posted on Pinterest. Think black beans, baked chicken, grilled pre-cut vegetables and a little olive oil with your favorite seasoning and you’ve instantly got one of the easiest yet healthy meals that will keep you full and your blood sugar stable.
Create a list of “kitchen-staples”: By regularly stocking your kitchen with inexpensive and quick ingredients like pre-made salad kits, frozen berries, canned beans, frozen chicken breast, whole wheat bread and greek yogurt, you can ensure you will always be able to whip something up in a relatively short amount of time that will nourish your body.
Create your “go-to” meal list: Assemble a list of at least 5-10 easy and healthy go-to recipes and revert to these before hitting the drive-through or turning on the microwave. Better yet, when you make these meals, make extra servings so that you can freeze them and always have a ‘backup’ meal for when dinner plans don’t work out.
Reach out to family or friends for support: Being the only one in your circle of friends trying to live a healthier lifestyle can be extremely challenging. Find someone who can offer you accountability and inform all of those who are important to you of your desire to make healthier choices. Even if they aren’t interested in making the changes themselves, they may be able to help support you more than you may think.
Once these steps are in place, making healthier choices CAN become your new “normal”. Focusing on the physical benefits in both the short and long term sense of adapting a healthier lifestyle (not to mention the financial benefits of spending less on healthcare costs!) can be a huge motivating factor to help you take the next step towards a healthier you. What is one change you can make today?