Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Steps for Creating a Healthy Food Environment

by Gina Schlocker, RD, IHC Staff Wellness Coordinator 1/6/2014

One of the most important ways to achieve a healthy lifestyle is to create an environment that supports healthy living.  This is true for our physical, mental and social well being.
Although some aspects of our environment can feel at times out of our control, one aspect, our food choices, is within our power. This includes at home, work, school and with our family, friends, and co-workers.
The following steps will help you get started on the road to a healthier lifestyle by surrounding yourself with a healthy food environment.

Toss the Junk
                Go through your refrigerator, freezer, and cabinets and throw out the junk foods. Chips, cookies, ice cream, regular sodas, candies and any other processed foods you know aren’t good for you and your family.  Throwing away these foods is not wasting since these are harming your health and are not real food anyway. 
Take Time to Meal Plan
                When you plan ahead, you are in control, you are more likely to stick to your healthy eating and avoid instant gratification junk foods.  Use whole foods as ingredients in your meals and snacks and make extra so you can take homemade foods for lunch during workdays. Limit eating restaurant foods to once a month.
Make a List
 Make a list of foods you need for your meals before going to the grocery store.  If you are mindful of the barrage of marketing tactics you face during your trip through the market aisles, you can outsmart the temptations and stick to purchasing the foods only on your healthy food list. And make sure not to shop when you are hungry.
Turn it Off
Turn off the TV, smart phone notifications, silence your phones, and turn off work computers.  Eat at the table with your family. At work, avoid eating at your desk.  If it’s a nice day, go outside to the park with friends.
Keep it Simply
                The more simple and basic your food choices, the easier it will be to control.  Choose with your family basic meals that incorporate healthy whole foods that everyone can enjoy and are easy to prepare.
Social Events
                Pressure from family, friends and co-workers can sabotage your efforts to follow a healthy lifestyle.  Be aware if your social events are always surrounding by unhealthy foods or always going out to eat. Plan events that do not center around unhealthy foods.  Real support comes from people who will always respect you and will not constantly tempt you to eat out or eat junk foods.
Get Support
                If you need a jump start on healthy food planning, healthy food choices or ways to purge your home of processed foods, contact an IHC Registered Dietitian to help start your new healthy life!

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