QUESTION: I confess. I have new year resolutions. Tops on my list (I know, how cliché) is to improve my diet. I feel like in the past I have fallen into some bad habits that have sabotaged my plans to eat healthier. Help! I need all the help I can get.
ANSWER: You are in excellent company. Diet is the number one resolution, whether it is to eat healthier or to lose weight through diet. It’s usually a combination of both, which is good. A healthier diet is the key to losing weight and keeping it off, as well as feeling better.
I am often asked during consultations to fine tune an eating plan to make it healthier. We are all products, to some degree, of a powerful marketing environment in this nation. We are constantly surrounded by advertisements in the media, whether it’s TV, internet, radio or magazines, just to name a few. Have you ever said to a friend, “I heard that was really healthy (or delicious)”? The next time you say that, think about why you did. So, apart from the hype, here is a short list of some of the most common traps. By the way, I can speak to these mistakes first hand, since I’m still a work in progress!
Cereal bars/granola bars – Even if they are made with healthy grains, check the labels for sugars and carbs. They can also even have artificial sweeteners.
Healthy soft drinks – Always check the sugar, and artificial ingredients content. Try filtered water with a very small amount of fruit juice or with a slice of fruit if you occasionally want something more festive than water.
Bottled fruit juice – Juice has a high sugar content. A piece of whole fruit is more satisfying and healthier because of the added nutrients and fiber.
Dried fruit – Dried fruit does have healthy nutrients, but has lost a lot of nutrients during processing and often has artificial preservatives. Fresh fruit is a better choice, because it has less concentrated sugars.
Not eating enough – It is an easy trap to fall into to think you will lose weight with less food. But when you eat a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit, you often eat so much more volume, you don’t get as hungry.
If it’s healthy “I can eat all I want” syndrome – Mindfully eat healthy portions. Mindlessly eating while surfing the web or watching television (That term probably dates me, doesn’t it?), can lead to unhealthy eating.
We often use the word “diet” as if it is a dirty word! Words are important. Choose a word like meal plan if that has a healthier connotation for you.
Hot Tip: Whenever selecting a meal plan, think of it in terms of habits you are willing to enjoy on a permanent basis, not a temporary fix.
Marty Kernion, Ph.D. is not a medical doctor. She has a doctorate in naturopathy. Naturopathy uses natural, gentle ways to bring our bodies back into balance, so that they have the God-given ability to heal themselves. She is a retired professor of herbal medicine and nutrition and has written 39 college level courses in natural approaches to health. She has published two books on natural health. She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org for scheduling a class or consultation, or for sending in your questions for this column.