Tip #2 – Choose to Eat Well
Or at the very least, choose to eat better. Unlike arresting a habit, such as nail-biting (one I gave up in the 8th grade), you can’t just stop eating, wherein lies the challenge.
Small dietary changes can help you build a healthy relationship with food, which can lead you into making even bigger ones. Feed your body what it needs to thrive. Pay close attention to how you feel when you eat certain foods. Not only can certain foods trigger a flare, but “mood by food” can set you back.
Good Habits Go Together
The International Journal of Obesity published a study that showed that participants—2,680 of them—who implemented a 15 week exercise program improved their eating habits. Simply by making changes in one area (exercise), participants were prompted into making other changes, which included healthier food choices and increased monitoring of their food intake.
When participants exercised for a longer duration, it was found that they were less interested in snacks and foods that characterize a standard American diet (SAD). When the intensity was increased during each session, participants began to choose healthier foods.
In Atomic Habits, James Clear suggests habit stacking as a way to build better habits. In a nutshell, habit stacking is when you attach a desired habit to one you are already performing. (Habit Stacking is part of the 1st Law of Building Good Habits.)
Here is a simple formula, courtesy of James: After [old habit], I will [new habit].
Perhaps the participants in this study were unwittingly stacking their habits. After I exercise, I will choose to eat a healthy lunch.
Another supposition: as the participants improved their level of fitness and began to feel better, they felt inspired to adopt other healthy behaviours that showed respect for their bodies.
Remember, small changes are cumulative.
Consider These “Appetizers”:
- Next time you go grocery shopping, buy an unfamiliar fruit or vegetable. If you’re uncertain about how to prepare it, the internet is full of helpful advice. If you are in an ethnic market, ask another shopper. I’ve always walked away with a delicious suggestion for what to do with that unfamiliar fruit or vegetable.
- If you normally serve one vegetable per meal, add another one, two or three.
- Give your tastebuds time to adjust to new flavours. “Taste training’ is about learning healthy eating as a life skill,” says dietitian Sophia Baker-French in a blog post on Healthy Families BC. (It begs the question: When did healthy eating become a life skill?)
- Have healthy choices readily available. In other words, make it easy to choose more wholesome foods (Incidentally, “Make it easy.” is James Clear’s 3rd Law of Building Good Habits.)
- Slow down when you eat. You want to give your stomach time to signal your brain that you are satiated.
- Chew your food well, which is also a good way to slow down. This is what Robert Santos-Prowse has to say on page 12 in The Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet about using your chompers to break down your food:
Saliva, which contains the aptly named enzyme salivary amylase, begins the breakdown of carbohydrates, and the lingual lipase enzyme does the same for fats. As you chew, carbohydrates are already being broken down into simple sugars in your mouth, which is why even the wholest of whole-grain breads (the ones that tastes like sticks) will begin to taste sweet if you chew them for a few minutes. Proteins just get wet and smashed up. Enzymatic breakdown of proteins does not begin until they reach the stomach.
- If you fall off the fruit and vegetable cart and succumb to temptation, don’t let months go by. Make your next meal a better one. (Thanks to my sister-in-law for sharing that bit of advice two decades ago! Previously, my fruit and vegetable cart rolled away down the hill leaving me struggling for a very long time.)
- Enjoy your food by being mindful.
- Spend time sharing your table with family and friends.
- If you’ve been inactive, talk to your healthcare team to discover ways to help get moving and along the way, you might just start making better food choices. (2,000 people can’t be wrong! That’s how many participants completed the exercise program, described above.)
- Bon Appétit!
Stay tuned for Tip #3/10.
- New Feature: Cooking with Confidence.
- Cooking with Confidence: More Soup, Please!
- Cooking with Confidence: Breakfast Smoothies.
- Food Choices and RA.
- Too Sour Fermented Foods?
More in This Series:
- Tip #10 – Live Your Life.
- Tip #9 – Learn to Listen to Your Body.
- Tip #8 – Use Tools and Gadgets.
- Tip #7 – Build Your Team.
- Tip #6 – Accentuate the Positive.
- Tip #5 – Laugh and/or Smile.
- Tip #4 – Improve Your Sleep Hygiene.
- Tip #3 – Move/Exercise.
- Tip #1 – Transform Stress.