It may come as a surprise, but even though I am a registered dietitian I have taste buds — just like everyone else! And while I still have a wicked sweet tooth – I love a good cupcake, cheesecake, and ice cream just as much as the next girl – I have really worked to change my palette and eating habits over the years. Today I can honestly say that most of the highly processed, high calorie (but low nutrient) foods that once tasted great to me seem very yucky now. (Ok… maybe with the exception of that chocolate chip cookie dough.)
So change is possible, and getting your taste buds accustomed to healthier fare can happen. For anyone looking to make a dietary change for the better, I have a few tips for making the transition a bit easier.
1) Think about why eating healthy is important to you. It is hard to make healthy changes (especially if you have some not-so-healthy habits today) without a good reason to do so. For some people, bettering the odds of leading a longer, healthier life is a great motivator. But for others that’s too far away and abstract. Maybe you want to fit into your ‘skinny jeans’, control your blood pressure, maintain a healthy weight, or simply look and feel your best. Figure out your reason(s) for wanting to make changes and keep them top-of-mind.
2) Get thee to the grocery store, farmers market or food co-op! Healthy food is delicious food. I can not say this enough. However you need to start with fresh ingredients. Look for produce that’s in season and/or local, bring it home, and use it soon after you buy it.
3) Remember: healthy eating is simple. Don’t make it complicated. There are hundreds of fads, diets, and crazy meal plans out there. If you are just getting started on your ‘healthier path’ making the right choices can seem overwhelming. One of the best (and simplest!) tools for making healthier choices The New American Plate. Developed by American Institute for Cancer Research, The New American Plate is a helpful method for creating nutritious meals that promote a healthy weight, decrease cancer risk and support overall health. Each time you eat, make plant foods (vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans) at least two-thirds of your plate, and animal protein (poultry, seafood and red meat) no more than one-third. Here’s a great meal I made last night that follows this model: fresh salmon, a baked potato, and steamed broccoli. For more on The New American Plate, check out: http://www.aicr.org/site/PageServer?pagename=reduce_diet_new_american_plate