Food, in addition to nourishing us physically, is part of our emotional regulation. This aspect becomes especially important in times of pandemics or some other forced restrictions. This is why many people, especially those with the habit of “stress eating” have increased their weight during the pandemic crisis.
The foods available to us at home, in schools, grocery stores and restaurants, as well as the influence of food advertising, greatly influence our choices and make healthy eating difficult for many of us. An increasing number of foods high in calories, fat, sodium and sugar are available to us in a variety of settings, a constant stream of commercial messages and advertising recommendations that cause us to have primal cravings for sweets, salty and fatty foods. All of this undermines our ability to make healthy choices.
In addition, the constant stream of shifting and often contradictory messages confuses us about what we should and shouldn’t eat. Billions of dollars are spent marketing foods that are high in calories, fat, sodium and sugar. In fact, 80% of advertised foods fall into this category.
How do you reconsider your eating habits and change them to healthier ones? Here are 4 simple ways.
DON’T TRY TO DRASTICALLY AND DRAMATICALLY CHANGE YOUR HABITS
Trying to make a number of changes at once most often leads to the fact that they become difficult to maintain, there is resistance and disruption.
Radical diets that completely eliminate groups of products are not recommended. Nutrition should be a way of life, and benefit the body. Lifestyle does not involve counting the number of carbohydrates consumed daily, nor does it involve completely eliminating an entire food group (such as fats, as in the Dukan diet, or carbohydrates, as in the keto diet). The Mediterranean diet is a way of life, but the keto diet is not!
PLAN YOUR MEALS
Planned meals tend to be healthier than meals that are grabbed without much thought. It’s about planning the food you’re going to eat throughout the day, not relying on yourself to make spontaneous bad decisions. You should start by revising cookies, candy, and anything else you can get a quick bite to eat. One of the reasons we snack all the time is that food is too available. Eliminating these triggers and not bringing things into the house that you don’t want to eat gives you the opportunity to eat right. Buy and bring only healthy foods into the house.
This is the easiest way to avoid the breakdowns that make you feel guilty every time you reach for a candy bar or chips.
Eat a variety of foods. Variety is good for your health. We often tend to cook the same recipes and eat the same fruits and vegetables. Try new foods, cook with new recipes.
REDUCE YOUR INTAKE OF ADDED SUGAR
Sugar is hidden in many foods, even those that taste salty. The World Health Organization recommends limiting added sugar intake to 50g per day, the equivalent of 12 teaspoons. Although it seems like a large figure, it’s also easy to exceed it. Caloric beverages are also the most common culprit of spontaneous caloric overconsumption. These include sugary drinks, alcohol, sodas, lattes, etc. By limiting your intake of processed foods, baking your own biscuits and muffins, and reducing the number of calorie-dense drinks, you can reduce your sugar intake.
BREAK THE HABIT OF SNACKING, ESPECIALLY IN THE EVENINGS
If you snack without feeling hungry, while watching TV, you are probably not focused on food. Try to eat or even snack only when you are really hungry. Try to reconnect with the physiological signals of hunger and satiety.
You don’t have to give up snacking completely, but leave yourself only two snacks a day when your energy is low, for example, and eat good, fiber-rich foods.
Even night time snacking is okay if you are really hungry, but many people eat at night out of habit rather than physiological hunger. Before you settle down to watch your favorite show, ask yourself, do I really want to eat those chips or cookies, or is it because a well-deserved rest involves a snack? Food, especially sweet and greasy food, is soothing and peaceful. Try drinking apple cinnamon tea or a glass of warm milk instead.