How are you doing with making the kinds of food choices you want to be making? It can be hard! Good intentions are a fine start, but making it happen is what counts.
We are surrounded by the convenience and overabundance of highly processed foods. This makes it all too simple to reach for them instead of what we know will make us feel and function better.
But you can change this with a little planning. There are strategic ways to adjust your food environment so that choosing nutritious foods comes more naturally.
If you want to be eating healthier but are wondering why it’s not happening, ask yourself this question: Are you setting yourself up for failure or success?
Start thinking: I “CAN” do it!
Check out this study from Cornell that analyzed healthy eating behaviors.
The healthiest eaters were those who were most likely exposed to foods like fruits and vegetables that were “visible and easy to reach (convenient), enticingly displayed (attractive), and appear like an obvious choice (normal).”
Here are a few hints for how to use the “CAN” principle to make healthy food choices:
- Always have fresh fruit on the counter. I keep a bowl of apples in my kitchen. A bunch of bananas is another staple. There are usually oranges and/or grapefruits out and papaya or a pineapple are frequent purchases. You’re more likely to eat a fruit that you see when you walk in the kitchen as opposed to one that is hidden in the back of your fridge. You’re also more likely to grab a fruit if you have them instead of cookies, chips, muffins, candy, etc out in plain sight. Plus, fruit is beautiful, isn’t it!? Make naturally sweet fruit your new norm instead of candy and sweets.
- Don’t make things like this too convenient for yourself:
It may appear “normal” to eat candy bars because many of us grew up with them, but in reality it’s not at all a healthy habit.
- Good nutrition habits begin in the grocery store. Don’t bring home junk food if you have tendencies towards overeating it. Make life inconvenient by having to drive out for chips or ice cream the next time you feel like them and you just may decide to skip them when a craving arises.
- Clean and declutter your kitchen. Clean and organized equals attractive. Make being in your kitchen all that much better with order instead of chaos! I like my spices neatly lined up in my cabinet, my nuts stored in glass jars in the fridge, any rotting veggies from the crisper bin removed and tossed into the compost pile. You get the idea. You feel good when your food and kitchen are neat. Having an attractive, non-cluttered pantry and fridge can support better eating habits. Now is the time to go through your cabinets, pantry and fridge and get rid of expired products and artificial or highly processed things that don’t belong there.
- Stock your pantry with good quality, ready-to-eat protein sources. This is convenient for when you don’t have time to cook (or don’t want to). Organic canned chicken, canned wild tuna and sardines are my favorites. For you vegetarians, keep canned beans and lentils on hand.
*Also, keep frozen vegetables in your freezer to easily build a meal around. I like broccoli, spinach, kale, mushrooms and bell peppers.
I hope that got you thinking about how the ways you expose yourself to foods can influence your eating choices. Make healthy foods convenient, attractive and normal and before you know it you’ve formed some new, solid habits that you can feel good about.