Most people want to have better eating habits, but sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start. Change is hard but not impossible. Research tells us that it takes 66 days to create a habit on average. That means in a little more than two months, you can be on your way to a healthier, happier you. Starting small and making additional adjustments along the way can turn new behaviors into lifelong habits.
At Roots for Life, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, our goal is to help you make incremental healthy changes by incorporating nutritious food into your day-to-day regimen. The more you know about nutrition, the better decisions you can make about your meals, the healthier you will be. On our website, we share examples, instructions, and hands-on opportunities to make changes easier to implement.
What you put on your plate matters. Your food choices have long-term consequences on your health, and in fact eating more nutritiously can prevent many diet-related illnesses.
Choosing to be healthy is just that – a choice. While it’s not often viewed as the easiest, cheapest route, the fact is that eating better can be convenient and budget-friendly when you know what to look for and how to ease into it. Building balanced meals has ample benefits to your overall health. Not only does eating healthy keep you fuller longer, it also prevents spikes in your blood sugar and excessive weight gain.
Although changing the way you eat can sometimes feel intimidating, here are three ways to make it easier to get started:
1. Ask Yourself One During Each Meal Question
Roots for Life’s nutrition blogger, Kara Plyler, suggests you ask yourself one simple question at each meal:
How can I make this meal more balanced? What we know about diet and nutrition has evolved over the past 40 years. The good news is that the current rule of thumb for a balanced meal is as easy as it’s ever been: half of your plate should be filled with fruits or vegetables; proteins and whole grains should each take up a quarter of the remaining space. Try to add one or more healthy foods to each meal. Small adjustments at every meal can not only help your plate become more balanced, but it can also help turn these small changes into habitual practices. Plus, it’s delicious!
2. Focus On Your Macronutrients (Protein, Carbs, and Fat)
Macronutrients are the cornerstone of your diet. In other words, these are the foods that comprise most of your daily nutrients and keep you healthy and fit. No healthy diet should exclude or seriously restrict any macronutrients. Instead, it’s important to choose the healthiest options for your well-being, many of which are easy on
your bank account, including:
• Carbohydrates: Starches including brown rice, whole wheat pasta; Veggies/greens including broccoli, sweet potatoes, kale
• Protein: Beans, tuna, salmon, chicken breast
• Fat: Nuts, seeds, avocado, yogurt (including plant-based options)
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Spice It Up!
One key thing to remember: you should always enjoy your food! Using spices and seasonings according to your culture and taste preferences are major factors in turning a bland meal into a feast for the senses. If you’re like me, you’ve watched countless cooking shows and noted that chefs use salt generously in meal preparation. It’s important to note, however, that flavor enhancement does not have to come from salt. Health coach Dr.
Kelly Morgan states that all spices fall in the superfood category. Ginger and turmeric, for example, are two anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich spices that add heaps of flavor.
Gone are the days when all fat was considered bad and calorie counting was the peak of healthy living. Today, it’s about being intentional about your choices in creating healthy, balanced meals. If you can incorporate these three steps, you will not only create healthier lifelong habits, but your meals will be more nutritious – and delicious!
Visit our Roots for Life blog, which is packed with helpful tips and resources for creating and supporting a healthy lifestyle. Soon we will debut our video library of instructional cooking and gardening videos and other nutritional information. Let us know what you think!
Rhonda L. Watson, MPS, is the executive director of Roots for Life, a grassroots volunteer organization founded in 2017, and campaign manager for a leading national nonprofit focused on workplace giving. Rhonda was awarded the 2022 Amber Grant for Women Entrepreneurs by WomensNet. Connect with her by visiting https://www.roots-for-life.org/staff.