Thursday, October 23, 2014

Nutrition Tip #1: Be Aware

It was nearly impossible to decide where to begin for my first nutrition post.

So I ditched my old school pen and paper brainstorming technique, opened my computer, and bam! "Be Aware" just appeared in the title.

Perhaps it is this "spooky" time of year that sparked this epiphany (a neighborhood full of elementary kids leads to pretty interesting Halloween decor with "beware" signs and caution tape galore...), but it made me realize the irony of these words.

Beware. Be Aware.

Kinda eerie, right? ;P My intention was for "be aware" is to be mindful. My blog is titled "Happily" Ever Kate for a reason - I do not want to dwell on the negatives and all of the scary information about our food and habits (although they will definitely creep in, I have no doubt). I'd like to focus on ways to pick ourselves up from our daily routines and find ways to incorporate health, instead of contributing to the Negative Nellies of the world.

A great quote I've heard recently is appropriate here:  "When you focus on health, disease and weight problems will naturally go away."  As a society we focus on the disease, the weight loss, the bad habits - ALL the negatives.  We can talk about these same issues from a different perspective and I think we can all be more positive about our health and start to trend in the right direction.

But I digress.

BE AWARE.

Do you know how much you are eating?  Sounds silly, right? Of course you  know how much you are eating.

But really, think about it.  Just the amount that you eat every day - I am not even worried about the what (yet!).  First, just think outside of your main meals.  That handful of chips or cereal or nuts. That Halloween candy that is just sitting around the office.  Or even at your meals - That extra 'little' scoop of mashed potatoes at dinner.  That bun you mindlessly eat as you wait for dinner to come or the scraps on your plate as you wait to pay the bill....

When you ask someone what they ate in a day, they typically leave out these "details." In reality, those little nibbles can add up to 500+ unnecessary calories a day.  They do not add VALUE to your body or your nutrition.  Perhaps you do not snack.  Great! But assess your meals.  Do you overindulge? Do you feel stuffed at the end of a meal?  (Food Baby anyone!?)

So step one is to be mindful and aware of how much (and then we will eventually look at what) you are eating. When you are going to eat, just quietly assess why you are eating.  Are you bored?  Are you stressed?  Is it just in front of you?  Do you really need that "little extra"?

Start with the "How much?"  You have to evaluate. You have to start by understanding what your habits are before you can change them.

One of the best ways to track this is a food journal.  I know, some people find these extremely annoying and tedious.  But I have to ask then: Are you serious about getting healthy?  Can you take 3 minutes after eating to write it down?  If your answer is no, then you are simply not ready yet.  If you have a smartphone, I find that MyFitnessPal is one of the best ways to track foods.  If you have a fitness band (JawboneUP, FitBit, etc), they also feature food trackers.  You could create a Google Doc or have a small notebook with you.  There is no "best solution" - everyone is different.

For the next 3 days, Be Aware.  Be Mindful.  Think about what you are naturally trying to do with your eating habits.  Then get ready to change them!

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