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7 Tricks to Eat Healthier in 2020

Leah J
Posted by Leah J on Dec 4, 2019

 

It’s that time of year, when people start reflecting on the past year and thinking about the year ahead. If you are like so many others, planning for the year to come often includes setting goals to eat healthier or follow a particular diet. This dietitian encourages you to consider taking a long hard look at your eating habits before you make any solid decisions about dieting. To be successful in making healthy food choices, one must first set themselves up for success by making changes to their eating habits - behaviors that influence our food choices.

A recent study examined the way different types of “nudges” can impact our eating habits. A nudge is something that influences your choices, but does not remove your ability to make a different choice. For example, calorie counts included on a menu or labels on food packaging are types of nudges. The researchers categorized these nudges into three groups:

  1. Cognitive strategies (how much you know)
  2. Affective strategies (what you feel)
  3. Behavioral strategies (what you do)

What they found was that each of these types of strategies can have some effect on reducing overall calorie intake and selecting healthier foods. The “nudges” that have the greatest impact are the behavioral strategies that address what we do each day. Based on this knowledge, here are seven, perhaps unconventional tricks, to promote better eating habits:

1. Take a cooking class. (how much you know) We know that cooking more at home leads to healthier eating overall. Educating yourself by learning to cook better is a cognitive strategy that can eventually lead to behavioral change. I always suggest starting with a Knife Skills class. The quicker you can chop, the less time it will take to cook a meal, increasing the chances that you will do it!

2. Use the smaller salad plate for meals, rather than the dinner plate. (what you do) Another variation of this strategy is to use a smaller plate for the less healthy options, and load up a larger plate with the low cal, healthy options. Of course, you will want to take down the healthy foods from the larger plate first...

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Photo by Ive Erhard on Unsplash 

3. Make vegetables and fruits convenient. (what you do) The first step is to make sure that a variety of fruits and veg are always on your grocery list (see #5). Purchase veggies that are pre-chopped, sliced, or diced. Don’t make eating healthy hard on yourself! There are a ton of convenience options at the grocery store that can help cut down on time in the kitchen. Have snackable healthy foods, such as apples, clementines, celery, or baby carrots, ready to grab and eat.

4. Reorganize your environment. (what you do + what you feel) Marie Kondo your life! Okay, you don’t have to go that far... Simply move the healthy foods in your refrigerator and pantry to the front and to eye level. Make the healthiest choices the most visible. Declutter your countertops, tables, desks, etc., taking away some of the daily stressors. Aside from organizing, make the eating experience a pleasant one! Removing stress from your mealtime experience will increase the likelihood that you will make healthy choices (also see #7).

5. Write out a grocery list before you go to the store with 80% healthy, fresh foods. (what you do) Check these foods off your list before you go looking for the chips and dips. When you walk into the store equipped with a list, you will be less likely to purchase food items that you don’t need or just “sound good” as you wonder by. Only put into your cart what is on your list!

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Photo by Matheus Cenali from Pexels 

6. Make healthy meals fun and attractive. (what you feel) According to the study, dishes that are descriptively appealing or attractive are affective strategies. Even looking at beautiful photos of healthy food (like the one below) can give people a nudge toward healthy options. When prepping a meal, think about using an array of colors to make it more visually appealing and nutritious.

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Photo by Dana Tentis from Pexels

7. Avoid distractions while eating a meal. (what you do) Get away from eating in front of the television, computer or other devices. Spend some time focusing on what you are doing in the present moment. When we are distracted while eating, we are likely to eat more and eat mindlessly, not thinking about the quality of the food. Dining with others will help slow down the eating process. With our busy lives this can be challenging, but a few undistracted meals a week wouldn’t hurt.

To really jump start healthy eating habits in the new year, check out The Chopping Block's new Wellness Boot Camp. With a focus on simple preparations using whole food ingredients such as vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains and lean protein, this class will inspire you to make healthy eating a consistent pattern in your life.

Learn more about our Wellness Boot Camp

 

Topics: healthy, health, healthy cooking, nutrition, nutritionist, healthy eating, wellness boot camp

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