“I Want to Eat Better” The Guide

Via  Giphy

Via Giphy

By Jessica Hamlin

The Problem:

You want to eat better.

You’ve likely heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” While we don’t condone basing your identity on food choices, food can contribute to how you feel and how your body and mind function.

Food is meant to nourish and fuel you. But depending on what’s in your food and how your own body reacts, food can either help support you or it can possibly hinder you—in the long term and the short term. If you’ve ever been in a food “coma” or had a sugar crash, you know what we mean.  

So you want to eat “better” but aren’t sure what that means and how you do it.

Let’s look at how you got here.

How You Got Here

Identifying barriers, needs and triggers

If you feel like you’re not eating well, let’s look at why that may be.

You’re overwhelmed. Perhaps you’re overwhelmed by all the info out there on what eating well means, what diet is best and how you incorporate that into your life. Maybe you’re confused hearing about “superfoods” and trendy foods you’re told you “need” in your life, but you want to know what you truly need.

There’s no time. Maybe you feel like you can’t eat well because you think you don’t have the time or skills to prep healthy meals.

You’re eating your feelings. Another possible barrier to eating better: Maybe you’re using certain foods and drinks to comfort you or cope with daily life. If you’re often reaching for your choice comfort foods—sweets, pizza, potato chips, alcohol, soda, etc.—and end up feeling tired, out of it or sick but are still unable to break the habit, try identifying what usually triggers you to eat those foods. Are you tired? Going through stress from work, a relationship, loneliness, or other worries? You may want to talk to someone like a counselor who can help you sort out what you’re feeling so you can get on the road to resolving it and finding a healthy way to cope. Keep in mind that some processed junk foods, especially ones with sugar, can be addictive and tough to quit. But if you can make easy healthier ice cream, anything is possible!

So let’s discuss how to fuel your body well so you can better power your health and your life.

What You Can Do About It

We’re here for one bite at a time.

Listen to your body: Everyone has different dietary needs so it’s important to check in with yourself about how you’re feeling and how different foods make you feel when you eat them. Do certain foods give you stomach discomfort, brain fog or suck your energy? What foods make you feel more clear-headed and energetic and seem to give you more stamina? Due to allergies and food sensitivities, this may vary for each person.

Eat your vitamins: Want to eat better and feel better? Get those vitamins (and we don’t mean the Flintstones kind). If you’re feeling “off” a vitamin deficiency could be to blame. Iron, Vitamin D and magnesium are common deficiencies and some of these can be gotten through food. If you want to know more, get a blood test to check your vitamin and mineral levels.

Plan your meals: Set yourself up to succeed by planning healthy meals so you’re not caught off guard or short on time later. You don’t need to be a gourmet chef and the meals don’t have to be complicated. Making food in batches for several meals ahead of time saves you time, cleanup and headspace in the long run, especially when your schedule gets busier.

Evaluate the trends: Greens, probiotics, coconut oil, Whole30. Is all this stuff good for you and if so, how do you incorporate it into your life?

Check out more on how to start eating better below.

Where Do You Start?

Eating better and well will look different for everyone. So remember to listen to your body and try one thing at a time to see how you respond. You don’t need to drastically change your diet overnight, unless you and a health professional prepare and agree that works for you. (You can read about a woman’s experience with the Whole30 food program here.)

Remember eating well is ultimately a lifestyle, not a fad diet, so this is about finding what nourishes you for the long haul and what food prep/routine is sustainable for you, so that will likely mean trial and error. Sometimes what food or routine works for you in two weeks will change in two months, depending on how your body responds or what’s happening in your life.

Here are articles with tips and recipes to help you make a variety of easy, healthy meals:

Here are articles to help you find out more about nourishing foods and how to incorporate them into your life:

(Thumbnail Photo: andrew welch on Unsplash)

Jessica Hamlin is an LA-born and bred journalist and editor who started taking pictures of food back when everyone used film cameras. A graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s health coach training program, she’s passionate about wellness and enjoys making and discovering delicious and healthy food. Her work has appeared in Clean Plates, NPR affiliate KPCC, AOL, and Eater LA.