It is sad but true. We are what we eat. Just like a car, putting the wrong kind of fuel into our bodies will make them sputter, and perhaps not work at all. March is National Nutrition Month. What better time to think about healthier ways to eat?
For many of us, food is tied to our emotions. We use it to medicate our feelings. My favorite go-to food when I’m feeling stressed is nachos. Yum – a pile of corn chips smothered in cheesy goodness. Don’t forget the sour cream and guacamole. And of course, I have to wash it down with an ice cold beer or margarita. I always feel emotionally better after consuming this, but my body is so unhappy trying to process the extra calories and fat I’ve just eaten, I end up being sluggish and grumpy for 24 hours. Can you relate?
As military spouses we often are counterintuitive with our choices. Feeling tired? Most of us immediately go to caffeine like espresso or Monster Energy drinks to get through the day. Some go straight to sugary foods like: donuts, cookies, or candy. Feeling stressed? That glass of wine looks awfully good at the end of a long day with cheese and salami.
Avoid extremes in search of more balance. The reality is you can substitute good food choices when you are feeling tired or stressed that will leave you feeling better. I’m not saying to give up caffeine,sugar, or nachos, but to do those things in moderation and consider healthier options.
A balanced daily diet includes six to eleven servings of healthy grains and pasta; two to four servings of fruit; three to five servings of veggies; two to three servings of meat, legumes, and fish; two to three servings of dairy products; and as few servings as possible of sweet or fatty foods. That’s a lot of possibilities!
Here are some simple things you can do now to start eating healthier.
Don’t skip breakfast! Keep it simple and easy. A piece of fruit, some milk, or other protein makes a great basic breakfast. I love natural peanut butter and jelly on a whole grain english muffin, with some banana or orange on the side. And of course, a cup of coffee. Only you know what works best for you and your family.
Keep healthy snacks on hand. Fruit, nuts, and nut butters (provided no one in your home has allergies), pre-cut veggies, hummus, and yogurt are just a few ideas. There are a myriad of snack ideas on the internet…let your fingers do the walking and your imagination soar!
Pre-plan menus. You can get all fancy and do elaborate weekly menus, but personally I prefer putting some thought into it the night before. Look in your kitchen and see what you have on-hand, and go from there. Even planning a meal 24 hours out keeps you from just grabbing things out of the refrigerator and making poor choices.
Make eating a family affair. Get your family involved in making healthy food choices, too. Even your kids can help prepare vegetables to keep in the fridge, or make snacks to eat after school.
Avoid extremes in search of more balance. The reality is you can substitute good food choices when you are feeling tired or stressed that will leave you feeling better. I’m not saying to give up caffeine,sugar, or nachos, but just to choose them in moderation and consider healthier options.
Get smart about the food you use to fuel your body. Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated, simply begin the shift to healthier food and beverage choices. It will make a difference in how you feel, and in dealing with your crazy military life.