We are not doctors. Please read our disclaimer before making any choices regarding your health and wellbeing.
Confession: I’m a crappy eater. I like junk food, I indulge in convenience, and I’m set in some bad habits.
However, as you may have read, one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to eat healthier. In fact, both Mom and I made it our goal to take better care of ourselves. Making healthy eating choices is step one.
But where to start?
Healthy Eating Tips
Since I’m breastfeeding and Mom’s more interested in eating healthy than losing weight, neither of us are interested in a typical ‘diet’. However, we’ve both decided (along with Mr. Anderson,
the poor sucker) to join Weight Watchers.
How is Weight Watchers different from a diet? You can eat anything! Every food is assigned a point value, with over 200 foods now being worth zero points, so nothing is off limits. With daily point goals and weekly points for added flexibility, it’s easy to find a balance between the healthy foods and the not-so-healthy treats. Which leads me to our first tip.
It’s All About Balance
Life is short. YOLO. Live while you’re alive. Etc. Etc.
Everything in moderation. Want a couple glasses of wine? Go for it! Like a little butter on your toast? Well, a little smear here and there can’t hurt. Craving chocolate? Man, I feel you. We all need a treat now and then.
Canada’s Food Guide talks about enjoying food from a variety of categories. Food science and nutrition tells that that every major food group (yes, even those dreaded carbs and fats and any other food you want to villainize) has its purpose. Your body needs those nutrient building blocks to survive.
Sure, to a certain extent, “junk food” is a waste of time. It’s usually fairly (if not totally) void of nutritional value. (Weight Watchers reflects this with hefty point values that usually require dipping into your weekly flex points.)
Will I ever completely give up my treats though? Never! Chocolate releases endorphins, the pleasure hormones. Satisfying a craving is a great stress-reliever. And sometimes – just sometimes – you just want a damn cookie.
It’s okay to indulge as long as you don’t go overboard. Like the occasional Netflix binge or half-hour spent mindlessly scrolling through social media. A little bit won’t harm you.
Ease Into It
Changes take time. While you may have been like us and determined healthier eating to be one of your New Year’s Resolutions, that doesn’t mean your change has to happen 100% overnight.
Make small changes. Buy one last bag of chips and tell yourself it has to last until the end of the month. Take your favourite junk food and only let yourself have it every other day, and then only twice a week, and then only twice a month, and so on. One small step at a time.
Don’t feel bad about early failures. Change is hard and you need to forgive yourself if you don’t meet your own standards right away. Recommit to your healthy lifestyle and start fresh the next day.
Eat a Rainbow
Fruits and vegetables are a key component for any healthy eating plan (as evidenced by Weight Watchers assigning most if not all fruits and veggies as zero points) but you can’t just gorge on bananas all day long.
In a day, you need to try and select a variety of colours to get a good mix of vital nutrients. Dark, leafy greens tend to be low in fat, high in dietary fibre, and rich in folate, iron and magnesium. Meanwhile, orange and yellow fruits and veggies tend to be great sources of potassium, vitamin C and beta-carotene (vitamin A).
Aiming to “eat a rainbow” – meaning consuming all sorts of colours of foods – means you’re more likely to get a wide range of nutrients.
Avoid ‘Fad’ Diets
I’m obviously not talking about Weight Watchers here (not that much of a hypocrite). I personally consider Weight Watchers to be an eating plan that leads you to healthy choices.
Diets, to me, are where you focus so severely on losing weight that you have to only eat a certain type of food, or you’re not allowed to eat other types of food. You have to count calories or severely limit portions. Diets are about restriction.
Fad diets – like Atkins or keto or paleo – come and go. They’re really hot for awhile and people swear by them. And then after awhile, they’re either proven unhealthy by the medical community or they just fade away and are forgotten like any other fad.
Some fad diets are truly harmful. They tell you to totally avoid things your body needs to survive and thrive. People demonize carbs and fats and yet they are essential building blocks for many bodily functions. As WebMD states, fad diets that deprive your body of key nutrients can set you up for illness, perhaps not immediately but certainly in the long run. Plus, they don’t work.
As a nursing mom, I have to constantly be drinking. I can’t stop or there’s no way I could keep up with Little Anderson’s demands.
That being said, nursing mom or not, everyone should be focussed on staying hydrated. Your body relies on water for most vital function. Plus, your skin, hair and nails all show fairly quick response to proper hydration.
However, it’s important to be choosing water over most other sources of hydration. While milk is a great source of vital nutrients, water should be chosen over juice, sports/energy drinks and carbonated beverages. Most of those drinks aren’t great choices because of their sugar content, and carbonated drinks are actually dehydrating. This is something I need to be working on, particularly cutting back on the juices.
Diet alone isn’t enough to maintain health and physical fitness. Whether your goal is to lose weight or just maintain a healthy lifestyle, getting up and active is key.
Just like your eating changes, ease into it. Pick an activity that you’ll enjoy and that fits well with your current lifestyle. Fun things like swimming, group sports and yoga are great choices. When that’s going well and you think you can take on more, either increase the time you spend doing that one activity or, better yet, add another.
As with eating, the greater the variety in activities the better for your overall health. Yoga is great for strengthening your core, while swimming or walking are other low-impact activities with greater cardio values.
Find friends or other people to join you in your activities. You can hold each other accountable and keep each other company, making it easier to stay motivated.
Find New Recipes
Have you pinned this post yet? Just kidding – just reminding you that Pinterest is a thing.
If you’re stuck in a rut with your eating habits, find some new foods to get excited about. Making a collection of healthy recipes that inspire you can be a huge step in sticking to your new eating plan.
Think of the flip side – trying to make healthy choices but only finding recipes you dread. How well is that going to work? Exactly, it’s not.
So make that healthy recipe board on Pinterest. Buy some new cookbooks and follow some new blogs. Print or write out recipes to stick in a binder, or download them to a folder on your tablet. Do whatever it takes to get excited about making fantastic eating choices.
We highly recommend the recipes you can find on Skinnytaste, the Weight Watchers website, or Abby Langer’s website. Not only have we found many tasty recipes there, you can rest assured that they promote health and balanced nutrition.
(Share links in the comments if you find something particularly tasty looking. We’re always looking to expand our collection, too!)
Overall, healthy eating doesn’t have to be a bummer. If you approach it the right way, making gradual changes and finding new recipes that excite you, soon you’ll be embracing your healthy eating with gusto.