SIXTEEN WAYS TO EAT BETTER AND SUPPORT METABOLIC HEALTH IN 2016
Earlier this year I created a simple graphic for eating better that I shared in a previous post. For those already in process, check off those actions you already practice and determine what’s next. For anyone just beginning to consider a change, try to identify actions that you are ready and willing to make. If the timing isn’t right today, keep this list handy to reconsider another day.
WHEN YOU PURCHASE FOOD
1. Buy more whole foods, those foods that you recognize for what they are: Plant foods like vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes as well as meats and dairy products.
2. Purchase less refined and processed foods; snacking on nuts, fruit, vegetables, cheese, a cup of milk or yesterday’s leftovers support strong metabolic health; most conventional snacks, sweets, and treats don’t.
3. Choose organic as you can. Commercial pesticides are known endocrine disruptors. They compromise our metabolic health and are linked to everything from cancer, diabetes, and obesity to infertility and poor mental health.
4. Buy better meat. Grass fed and pastured protein products are better for you and better for the planet.
5. Check out the day and time of local farmer’s markets or consumer supported agriculture available in your neighborhood. These sources have the added benefit of keeping food dollars in your community.
6. Limit plastic wrap and other plastic food storage containers. Choose glass, ceramic and food safe metal containers as you can to limit problematic endocrine disruptors from leaching into your food directly or from the environment.
7. Make healthy food choices the easier choice. I placed a basket of raw nuts in the shell and a bowl of fresh tangerines on the table over the holidays. We’ve learned how easy it is to satisfy a sweet tooth without eating refined sweets.
9. Include protein at every meal for adequate satiety–that great sense of feeling satisfied after a meal. Protein plays an especially important role in your first food of the day. For some eating protein first, before the pasta, rice or any other carbohydrate food at every meal helps to increase satiety.
9. Include enough plant foods in the meal. In the summer it’s a full range of salads and grilled vegetables with grilled meats, in the cold of winter we’re drawn to soups, stews, and chili.
10. Try plating food in the kitchen so eating more requires a conscious decision. We support strong metabolic health when we eat just enough or until we are satisfied. Overeating leads to more inflammation which is linked to everything.
11. Link snacks to the timing of your next meal, not as a source of entertainment. A piece of fruit or a handful of baby carrots will bridge the gap for 30-60 minutes, but if you have hours until your next meal include some protein and fat for a better fit.
12. Avoid getting over hungry since once you are too hungry it is difficult to feel satisfied without over eating. Consider some cut up veggies, a handful of nuts, and/or a chunk of cheese as the first course instead of “ruining your dinner”.
13. Don’t let the cook more at home crowd create more guilt in your life. Preparing food from scratch takes time and energy and some people barely have time to breath between jobs, commutes, and kids. Still, cooking is an amazing activity that can lead to eating better, sharing time with friends or family, saving money, and supporting better metabolic health.
WHEN EATING AWAY FROM HOME
13. Don’t show up over-hungry, a sure fire way to over eat. (see #12 above)
14. Develop a sense of discrimination. A full dining experience offers far too many opportunities to fill up on starch and sugar: the basket of something to nosh before the meal, the appetizers, with the entree, and then dessert. Many beverages also add to mix. Eating it all leads to a metabolic mess for most of us, but you can choose less or choose what is most delicious and learn to savor every bite.
15. Consciously order enough protein, especially at breakfast and lunch when it is easy to fill up on a waffle and some restaurants skimp on how much protein is served.
16. Dining out is a chance to savor someone else’s effort in the kitchen. Honor the food and yourself by honoring how much is enough–an important skill to practice no matter where you are eating.
As a source of satisfaction and sensory pleasure, eating better allows food it’s rightful place– culturally, socially, and personally. In addition, eating better supports our metabolic health. Isn’t that worth every conscious bite?