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Trying to Improve Your Diet but Don’t Know Where to Start?

By Betsy Stenard, student at Winthrop University

  1. You don’t have to cut out any foods, but add others into what you’re already eating.

So many people start their health journey by cutting out at least one food or even a whole food group, and then wonder why they are still not functioning at their best. You can still enjoy the foods you like while adding something alongside it at the same time. A hamburger with a side salad is still an overall balanced meal, and not one you need to feel guilty about enjoying. Include some fresh fruits and vegetables as a snack to go with whatever you have for lunch that day, or sneak a few roasted veggies in with that pasta you’re making too.

2. Start keeping a food journal, or start some simple meal planning.

Making yourself more aware of the food you are eating can be major in helping to change any mindless eating habits. It is a simple yet effective way to manage your eating habits, as many people will find that the act of writing them down

(or planning what to eat ahead of time) allows for more mindful eating. It is important to keep in mind however that calorie counting does not need to be involved in this, and is usually discouraged. Calorie counting can bring too much awareness to the foods a person is consuming and, if done extensively, could lead to disordered eating habits.

3. Learn and honor your hunger cues and cravings.

Learning to listen to our bodies and what they want is something that we may have to train our brain to do more often. We can get caught up in habitual tasks that do not allow for us to check in with ourselves. Are we eating when we are hungry? Do we reward ourselves with food? Do we tell ourselves not to eat something even if we are craving it? There is much to be said and learned about this, and if you realize you are having trouble reading what your body wants and when, it may be a good idea to talk to a dietitian or a therapist.

4. Find the foods you really like, not just the trendy ones or the ones you think you’re “supposed” to eat.

The world of social media picks a new “superfood” to hyperfocus on every week, and many people quickly subscribe to whatever health benefits or possible weight loss it may lead to. You do not need to eat kale and chia seeds the rest of your life to feel your healthiest. The foods that are the most accessible to you, as well as the ones you find yourself truly enjoying, are all part of a healthy lifestyle just as much as any other food may be. With this said, do not limit yourself. Try lots of new and different fruits and vegetables that you may find you like! Make your diet interesting and exciting.

5. Feed yourself in a sustainable way.

This means, do not eat the absolute lowest calorie diet, avoid all carbs, or only ever eat vegetables. Our body’s need a healthy balance of protein, carbs, and fats, in addition to being adequately fueled. Do not fall for the numerous food trends and influencer advice that tells you otherwise, but rather eat in a way that tells your body you love it and want to upkeep it. That is going to look different for everyone, but the most important part is making sure you are eating in a way that your body functions at its best. Not eating enough in a day is going to catch up with you by the end of the day, not eating enough carbs means your body cannot use its preferred source of energy and must make due another way.

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