With a new month approaching and a looming birthday in the not-too-distant future (where I will inevitably be one year older, and I hope wiser!), I am dedicating the month of October to a self-imposed healthy eating challenge. I realize the month in which Halloween falls (and the likes of Candy Corn, Pumpkin spiced lattes, and candy apples are abundant) may not have been the best month to begin this 30-day challenge, but hey, you have to start somewhere.
A little background on why I decided to implement this challenge for myself. Many reasons brought me to this point, but the two factors that made me realize I need to change my ways were my thyroid cancer diagnosis last year and that I just don’t feel well. I am constantly tired and sluggish, and while my thyroid medication plays a role, I’m sure my eating habits are to blame as well.
Last week, I took the first step towards health and wellness. I saw a nutritionist. I wasn’t sure how the meeting would go, and I was slightly afraid that the nutritionist would be horrified by what I thought constituted a meal. But when I met Kim she was sweet and bubbly. I instantly took to her energetic personality and felt like I was talking to a good friend. Kim started the session off by asking me why I had come to see her. I told her that I had never been mindful about my nutrition in the past, and that I was–to put it bluntly–tired of feeling tired. I mentioned to her my love of chocolate, including cookies, cakes, and basically anything sweet. I recognize this is a problem – not so much that I like sweets, but that I have no willpower to stop at just one or two. One of my goals for this challenge is at least to curb my sugar addiction. Kim was very sympathetic and suggested that I not try to cut out sweets all together, but that I work on my self-restraint. She thought it was fine to indulge once and a while, but not at the expense of replacing good calories – something I am guilty of doing!
As the conversation progressed, Kim reviewed my breakfast, lunch, and dinner choices and offered suggestions on ways I could make them healthier. She then went over nutrition labels and proper portion size.
Kim’s action plan for me was straightforward, and I think I can incorporate it into my everyday life. Her ideas included:
Eat every 2 hours: She likened it to “grazing” so that you don’t get too hungry to the point of crashing and making poor dietary decisions.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day: I already do. I have found that keeping water at my desk reduces the desire to grab something sweet or just eat when I’m bored.
Prepare meals the night before: This is probably something I should start doing, since every spare minute counts for me when I’m rushing out the door (and probably why the morning trips to Starbucks have become a daily occurrence!).
Make smoothies and incorporate vegetables: I am not a huge fan of anything green (with the exception of cucumbers and a Caesar salad), but this I can handle. I love smoothies, and they are great between meals!
Have healthy snacks available: I’m partial to Trader Joe’s fiber bars, which are high in fiber and don’t have a lot of sugar. Kim thought they were a good start, and recommended carrots and peanut butter as another alternative.
Go nuts: Walnuts and almonds are the best nuts to eat, and also a great snack! They are high in protein and very satisfying.
Start small: Kim thought I should slowly introduce new vegetables into meals I like to prepare. One meal I instantly thought of was my quesadillas. By adding broccoli or kale, I can make them much healthier.
I am really glad that I took the time to see a nutritionist and that Kim was so helpful. I realize that years of poor eating habits will not be changed in a mere 30 days, but I hope that I can break some of my bad habits, reduce my sugar intake (dependence?), learn how to prepare healthier meals, and feel better!
If you have any advice for me, great recipes I should try, or your own story to share, I’d love to read about it in the comments. Follow along on Instagram and Twitter to see my progress and what I’m cooking in the kitchen!