A recent study found that less than 10% of Americans are eating enough vegetables. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 14% of Americans are consuming the recommended 2 to 4 daily servings of fruit, and less than 9% consume 3 to 5 servings of vegetables.
If you’re going to beat the odds, you may need to rewire your brain so you crave Brussel sprouts more than bacon. Each time you choose healthier foods, you’re strengthening your desire for them. Take a look at these suggestions for changing the way you think and eat.
Changing the Way You Think
1. Remember your purpose. Focus on why you want to eat nutritious whole foods. Cutting down on empty calories can help you look and feel your best. You’ll have more energy, and you may even save on medical bills.
2. Plan ahead. Ask yourself if a few minutes of munching on corn chips is worth the consequences. Would your future self be better off if you snacked on baby carrots?
3. Study nutrition. The more you know about how your diet affects your health, the stronger your motivation will be. Schedule a session with a registered dietician or browse online to learn more about reading food labels and restaurant menus.
4. Form new habits. It’s easier to start a positive new habit than to break an old routine. If you’re used to eating a donut with your coffee, treat yourself to a few almonds instead of going hungry.
5. Focus on nonedible rewards. If emotional eating is a concern, you may need to seek gratification elsewhere. Reward yourself by watching a movie or spending time with friends.
6. Enlist support. Speaking of friends, social support is vital. Surround yourself with others who are trying to eat well so you can share encouragement and feedback.
Changing the Way You Eat
1. Add healthy fats. You may have noticed a recent shift in nutritional advice. Experts are now talking less about avoiding fats, and more about choosing healthy fats. Broccoli can be a lot more appealing when you drizzle on olive oil.
2. Hunt for bargains. Maybe the high price of some superfoods is dampening your enthusiasm. Shop for seasonal produce or grow your own. Stock up on inexpensive staples like beans and lentils. Visit the bulk bins where you can save on packaging costs, and sample small quantities until you discover your favorite grains and seeds.
3. Beautify your place settings. Presentation makes a big difference. Sit down to eat. Create an attractive centerpiece or light candles. Use colorful dishes and bowls.
4. Branch out. If kale is starting to bore you, experiment with other salad greens like oakleaf or mizuna. Sign up for cooking classes or visit the library for more ideas about what to make for dinner.
5. Carry snacks. Bring hummus or yogurt to the office with you for your afternoon break. You’ll soon like your own fresh food better than the packaged goods in the vending machines.
6. Make it convenient. The foods we crave are often the ones that require minimal effort like cookies and frozen dinners. You can make healthy substitutes just as handy. Keep a bowl of fruit on your dining room table. Buy whole-wheat pizza crusts you can top with cut vegetables and cheese for a hot meal in minutes.
Imagine looking forward to a bowl of beets with the same enthusiasm you usually reserve for double-fudge brownies. Some simple mental training, along with adjusting a few lifestyle habits, will have you craving food that’s good for you.