Check-Ups. Our bodies need them, our eyes and teeth need them and even our cars need them. You know what else needs a nice check-up from time to time? Your diet.
If you are unsure of where to start, keep a food diary for 3 days and include at least one weekend day. Once completed, evaluate what your typical routine looks like and see where improvements can be made. Questions that you can ask yourself can include:
- Do I eat too much fast food?
- Do I not cook enough at home?
- Can I increase how many fruits and vegetables I am eating?
- Am I skipping breakfast too often?
- Do I eat too much bread?
Do what works best for you and if you can, incorporate a friend on your challenge so the two of you can continue to motivate each other all month long. Eating healthier never has to be complicated. It can be as simple as choosing to eat something green every day or trying out a new vegetable with every grocery trip. Hopefully, you will come out of your challenge with some new tools to assist with living a healthier lifestyle. You may just surprise yourself how easy eating healthy can be!
For the past several months, my body has been enjoying the benefits of an increased metabolism from being a new mom and breastfeeding. While my overall eating habits have been good, my sugar intake had gone way up. For example, most mornings I would have scrambled eggs with ham, cheese and veggies paired with a delicious Mel-o-Cream donut. With the stress of being a new mom, I found myself also consuming cookies and almond milk literally every night. And I don’t mean 1-2 cookies…I’m talking more like 5-6 cookies at a time. One morning I thought to myself, “Gee it would be really great to just skip the eggs and have two donuts instead.” That’s when I knew my sugar intake was getting out of control and I needed to do something about it.
See, I am also a sugar junkie just like the vast majority of Americans. Sugar is very addicting regardless of the form it comes in such as bread, pasta, cookies, granola bars, pretzels, crackers or chips. When excess carbohydrates are consumed, your body releases large amounts of insulin to shuttle this extra glucose into storage. These large shifts in insulin levels can actually make you crave more carbohydrates and more calories! Additionally, large amounts of carbohydrates (particularly processed forms) can upset your GI system and affect your sleep patterns.
After I finished my last homemade chocolate chip cookie, I knew my eating habits needed a re-boot. I decided to take on a 30-day challenge and of course, incorporated the help of my husband. We have done this in the past and always come out of our month-long food adventure happier and healthier. The purpose of a 30-day challenge is to adopt habits that hopefully will become lifelong behaviors. The first time we took on a challenge, we cut out processed foods by doing the Whole30, and you know what? It forced me to become a cook and now I love making meals for my family every week! Staying away from processed foods for 30 days pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to utilize cooking techniques, vegetables, spices and a variety of proteins we previously had never had before.
My husband and I evaluated our eating habits and each chose an area to work on. My problem was my sugar intake and his was chips and sweets. Let me remind you that the occasional cookie, donut or bag of chips from time to time is perfectly fine! However, my sugar intake had gotten out of control since I was consuming these types of items every single day. I didn’t embark on anything too complicated given the fact that I am breastfeeding and would also have a little extra stress of returning to work. For my challenge, I simply chose to go a whole month without cookies. It was as simple as that! Now, fast forward 30 days.
You’ll be happy to hear that I survived my month without cookies! I swapped my morning donuts for a serving of sweet potatoes and choose protein bars or an apple with peanut butter instead of cookies as a bedtime snack. My goal was not to lose weight but rather help my body wean itself away from daily high-sugar intake. I can say that I feel great, my gut feels amazing and my body is back to craving much more wholesome foods such as fruit, peanut butter, nuts and veggies. It is so refreshing to remind my body how good it feels when it’s not craving processed sugars.