It’s that time of year again! If you are one to set resolutions, we would like to offer 5 realistic, sustainable and measurable goals in regards to nutrition.
1. Make 1/2 your plate fruits and vegetables. Another way to say this would be – make a conscious effort to include a fruit and/or vegetable each time you eat (at each meal and snack). Just working on this one goal is likely to increase the nutrient density of your meals, keep you full and satisfied (in terms of volume) and help you meet your health and wellness goals more effectively.
2. Choose high fiber carbohydrates and aim for portion size about the size of your fist. Fiber acts like a leaky faucet as it slowly releases glucose into your bloodstream for sustainable and consistent energy. Take the fiber out and it’s like turning the faucet on full blast, resulting in a large amount of glucose in your bloodstream and a resulting crash later. This can make regulating hunger and fullness levels difficult and can throw off hormone balance. Glucose can also increase cravings for higher carbohydrate foods.
3. Eat a balanced meal or snack every 3-4 hours. Going longer than this can make you overly hungry which means it’s easier to eat more of whatever is most convenient. It’s much easier to stay level-headed about food choices and amounts when eating patterns are more regular. Also, EVERY body works more effectively when nutrition is regular – digestion, mental health, sleep patterns, hormone balance, etc. all of which make up your metabolism. You are bound to FEEL the difference.
4. Protein portion size should be about the size of your palm. With emphasis constantly being put on eating adequate protein, it’s very easy to get too much. The most amount of protein your body can process and use at one time is 20-35 grams per meal. One 3-4 oz piece of meat or poultry is 21-28 grams. Given that all other foods have protein too, a balanced meal is likely to provide more than enough. Getting enough protein is rarely a problem, but not having it at regular intervals may be a problem. Aim for around 20 grams of protein per meal to keep an adequate amino acid pool in your blood at all times. That will be equivalent to a palm size (or deck of cards size or 3-5 oz) of meat, pork, poultry or fish. But don’t forget that beans (1 cup), peanut butter (2 tbsp), soy products (1 cup), eggs (2-3 eggs/egg whites) and dairy products (1/2-1cup) also provide adequate amounts.
5. Get rid of distractions when you eat and focus on how the food tastes, looks and smells! Engaging all your senses during mealtime increases the satisfaction of your meals substantially. Often our minds are focused on other topics, or engaged in judgmental thoughts about the food or ourselves as we eat. That is doing NOTHING for building a healthy relationship with food or allowing your metabolism to work as it should. Aim to eat when you eat – the idea of being able to multi-task is a myth.
Adapted from a blog post by: Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD