Eat more, not less
When it comes to dinner, raise your hand if you enjoy cutting back. What if there was an easier way to mind those pesky portions? What if it were eating more, not less?
Next time you sit down to a meal, take a look. Does your plate contain something from at least three different food groups? If not, ask yourself this question, “What else can I add?”
For example, if it typically contains only meat and potatoes, pick another food group you’d like to add. For example, a salad, some other vegetable, a piece of fruit, or a small glass of milk.
Likewise, when you grab a snack, look to see if you have at least one food group there. If it’s a soda and a candy bar, you’ve got none. Ask yourself, “What else can I add”?
It’s an easy rule of thumb to remember: Snacks contain one or two food groups and meals three to five.
This change to a more positive focus from “what can’t I have?” to “what more can I add?” is a small shift with a lot of power.
For starters, you will likely feel better because of the added nutrients you’re getting. You might notice changes like you aren’t catching every cold that comes along, you have more energy, or your moods are more even.
In addition, the portion sizes of foods you regularly eat will start to shrink without you giving it much thought as you make room for more food groups in each meal and snack. You’ll be filling up on more of a variety of foods, likely some lower in calories and higher in fiber, helping you to feel full despite eating less of your regulars.
It’s also a little like acting yourself into good thinking. As you gradually add eating fruits or vegetables, for example, you gradually don’t opt for empty-calorie choices like sweets, chips, and sodas as often. Why? Your tastes begin to change, you’ve noticed positive changes in your health and weight you want to maintain, and your self-talk about some of your old eating habits start to include things like, “I’m a person who eats pretty healthy. I don’t eat a lot of stuff like that anymore.”
These gradual lifestyle changes are the kind that come and stay. Changes that start small and build are sustainable. Even though the change may seem slow at first, the long-term positive health impact is enormous as it will consistently impact years of your life.
So give it a try, keep trying, and enjoy the results. Put life into your years and money in your pocket as you avoid the costs of managing chronic health diseases related to lifestyle.
Check out MyPlate.gov for the newest dietary guidelines.
Debbie Coblentz is a registered dietitian. Your comments in response to this article are encouraged — send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.