Eat with others
Eating with other people is a healthier way to eat. I know this has been challenging over the last (long) while, but when you eat with other people it’s a healthier environment to eat in. When kids eat meals with their parents, they eat more fruits and vegetables, as well as more variety (1, 2). Although research on this topic has limitations, it shows that eating family meals has a positive effect on obesity rates and a reduction in eating disorders as well as increasing academic success in youth (3)
Enjoy your food
This is a big one. If I had a dime for every time I was asked what are the “good” foods and what are the “bad” foods….
You can eat all the foods. I truly mean this. Obviously, if there is medical reason for you to avoid certain foods, please follow that. What I am asking of you, is to please stop feeling like you need “cheat” days or that you have been “bad” because you have eaten certain foods. This line of thinking was actually what inspired this post, as we head from the holiday season where there are treats galore over to the New Year where we are bombarded by diet marketing and propaganda. As I am writing this, I realize that this really could be a blog post all on its own.
Cook more often
Most people aren’t shocked when I tell them that eating home cooked foods is healthier than eating at restaurants and fast-food places. When you cook at home, it is easier to have a better variety on your plate. I’m looking at you, vegetables – eating out can be hard to get that balance! When kids are involved in the cooking process, they are often more open to trying the foods and research shows that it can help increase their fruit and vegetable intake (4).
For both adults and children, eating while distracted is not a healthy behaviour. Having your phone, computer, tv, etc. around while you are eating interferes with our ability to assess our hunger and fullness cues. If you are distracted by your phone, you may be eating less food than your body is telling you it needs. Although some people may try to tell me this is a good thing, it’s not. If you don’t eat enough at your meals, what happens is you end up making up for it by overeating at other meals in the day, or by filling up on snacks (typically higher fat, sugar and salt foods with less fruits and vegetables). On the other hand, when you are distracted by your phone during a meal, you may end up eating much more than you needed to. This leaves you feeling stuffed and lethargic and, when doing this on a regular basis, is again not a healthy way to eat. By removing distractions when you eat, you are able to check in with your body to see if you should stop eating, or you need to eat more. It also helps you be more present while you are eating and is a great way to help be a role model for your kids. It’s very hard to give your kids a hard time about having phones, etc. at the table when you are doing it yourself (or have been for years before they have a phone, etc.) The bottom line is, removing distractions when you eat is a healthier way to eat (5).
So, when talking about healthy eating, I do talk about certain foods. Yet, I am always careful to spend some time on the “how” of eating when I am discussing healthy eating as well. All of these topics I touched on above are very important pieces of the healthy eating puzzle. So as people start to think about January resets and resolutions, I would encourage you to take a different approach to those this year. Perhaps just working on the “how” of your healthy eating is all that is needed. Remember to be gentle and kind with yourself as changes take time.
Happy New Year!
Looking for more support around healthy eating? Contact Jill, Nurture The Future's Registered Dietitian at firstname.lastname@example.org