plateJust like I wouldn’t leave on a road trip without filling up the gas tank, life’s journey also requires fuel. In order to find the necessary stamina and health for the journey, it’s important to take care of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally.

So far, we’ve looked at drinking more water and moving more. This week’s practical post is all about eating better with the right kinds of food to stay healthy and fuel my body for the journey ahead. After visiting to Craggan Mill Food Blog you will get information about healthy food and their proteins.

You may remember health classes back in school that taught about the food pyramid and the ideal number of servings one should eat from each category. Today, the pyramid has rounded its corners to look like a plate with half covered in fruits and vegetables, a quarter protein, and a quarter whole grains with a glass of milk to drink.

If you’re anything like the majority of Americans, you know that you should eat better and you are often motivated by the desire to shed a few pounds. But trying to eat better foods in this fast-food, pre-packaged culture gets difficult, especially on a budget.

Here are a few tips to help you eat better:

1. Picture your plate like the new nutrition guidelines suggest and create a balance between protein, grains, and vegetables. One method I’ve tried divides carbohydrates into “fast” carbs that quickly turn into sugar (like grains, potatoes, pasta, and some fruit) and “slow” carbs that are full of fiber and take longer to digest (like most vegetables and beans). One protein, one fast carb, and one slow carb make up a balanced plate.

2. Add more fruits and vegetables. They are high in nutrients and low in calories. Plus, as a good source of fiber, they fill you up and keep things moving through your digestive system. As a bonus, munching on crunchy foods can trick your craving for not-so-healthy munchies like chips. Some try to “eat the rainbow” and intentionally eat a variety, therefore getting the various nutrients they need.

3. Portion sizes matter so do a little research. If eating out, share an entree or take half home for a later meal. At home, consider using a smaller sized plate so the portions don’t look skimpy with all that white space between them.

4. Don’t worry if today you overdid it on one type of food. Balance it out tomorrow by tipping the menu in favor of what you missed out on.

5. When buying groceries, start by shopping the perimeter of the store. That way you’re more likely to load up on the fresh food and skip the pre-packaged foods that are full of preservatives, chemicals, and salt.  When you need to stop in the middle of the store (like for canned vegetables or pasta), opt for low-sodium varieties or whole-grains. When smothered in sauce, my kids can’t tell that it’s whole wheat spaghetti.

6. Plan ahead to boost the budget. If you have a garden, you can process and can or freeze your own vegetables or salsa. One of our family favorites is spaghetti squash and it freezes very well, only needed to be reheated.  Watch the grocery ads for sales on fresh produce or frozen vegetables and plan meals around what’s on special.

7. Stock up on healthy snacks for between meals. In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables with perhaps hummus as a dip, consider unsalted/dry-roasted nuts, dried fruit, low-fat string cheese, or whole-wheat crackers. Not only are these good foods for you, they will help keep your blood sugar from spiking and creating unnecessary cravings.

8. Eliminate the temptations in the house. Weed out the leftover Halloween candy and offer a dish of roasted pumpkin seeds instead. Only buy corn chips instead of potato chips. Identify your pitfalls and keep them out of the house or on the top of the cupboards where you have to deliberately make the choice to go after them. If you tend to snack while at your desk, make sure there are plenty of good things within arm’s reach.

What about you? Do you consistently eat the way you should? Where or when do you fail? Any tips for the rest of us on how to eat better?

Tools For The Journey – Eat Better
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