In today’s fast-paced, live-now, pay-later culture, the essence of “the meal” has been altered in a way that often emphasizes speed over content. Many of these choices present long term problems not only because our body cannot digest them but also because they are nutritionally deficient.
The stores, airports, food carts and prepared food aisles are packed with processed foods, convenience foods, GMO foods, and foods we can’t pronounce. How do we go about choosing what is best for us, especially if we are under stress or in a hurry? Food choices can be emotional and staying on track isn’t always easy.
Under pressure we can get derailed from our regular eating habits. We forget to slow down, enjoy what we’re eating, and fully benefit from the overall nourishment that a good old fashioned meal break provides: vital energy and connection with ourselves and others. It takes a plan. Prioritizing food, no matter the situation, means prioritizing your health!
Here are some tips to make food joyful, healthy, and hopefully a bit easier to choose.
Practical TIps for Healthier Food Choices
Buy Fresh. Think about the many aspects of growing food that occur before it reaches the table. Sun, water, happy critters, earth and many hands. Most markets and restaurants have some sort of fresh food available on a daily basis. Fresh food includes all the fruits and vegetables we’ve come to know in whichever format we are craving. Could be a salad, a soup, something stir-fried, sushi etc. Local and organic are always an added bonus.
Grab n’ Go? Read the label. Is the dressing loaded with sugar? Is the sauce loaded with MSG? Are you trying to avoid a certain food due to a food allergy? Look for the fewest ingredients and it’s likely a solid choice. Or skip the dressing and use a lemon wedge. Travelling? Shop ahead of time so if the airport only has a Burger King, you have an apple, a hard boiled egg, and a turkey sandwich in your bag instead..:))
Food is Medicine. Your body wants nutrients that help it function smoothly and maintain balance. Many foods and spices offer us daily nutrition which can keep our immune system up and inflammation down, both great for warding off colds and balanced energy. Some potent “food as medicine” options include: ginger, garlic, fruits and vegetables, omega rich salmon and avocado, nuts, eggs, cooked soups, bone broth, to name a few. If we are eating nutrient-dense foods, we give our digestion system the opportunity to function properly, not wasting energy on processing chemicals or non-food items.
Think Season. In the winter you can think of turmeric, cinnamon and ginger to warm things up a bit. Cooked foods and yin nourishing foods like sweet potatoes are also a great choice. In the spring, what’s sprouting around you? What’s available near where you live in the season you are in often is the best choice.
Don’t Get Overly Hungry. One crucial aspect to eating well is to have a plan and not let your blood sugar be the boss. We’ve all eaten the whole bowl of popcorn when we just wanted to have a handful. Staying hydrated and snacking smart on high protein foods can make a big difference in what you reach for at lunch or dinner, as well as travelling.
Enjoy What You Eat! If you decided on pizza for lunch then by all means try not to ruin your day over it. Essentially, watch your stress levels around food and decide if you’re rushing or not even noticing how it tastes. This practice can make a big difference in our connection to what we’re eating and how we’re eating. Take a little extra time to notice. Plan meals with friends. Take time to eat with your family. Eat your lunch outside.
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