Does it sometimes feel like Groundhog Day for you because you find yourself asking this same question most days of the week? As a partner of the Together Counts™ program for active, healthy living we realize that everyone wants a nice, family dinner, but sometimes it can be tricky deciding what to do. Here are four ways to feel confident in your answer!
- Embrace your favorite food/meal/recipe. If you like something that’s a better choice, like honey crisp apples in the fall, stock up and eat them! If a nutritious bowl of chili is your thing on a cold fall day, make a big batch, enjoy some, and freeze the rest for busy weeknight meals. But what if you’re craving something that maybe isn’t the most nutritious option? Get creative with portions or sides to serve with it, and figure out what to eat during the other meals that day to balance out your full menu. Let’s face it, there are some things we eat more for taste than nutrition. Own it, plan for it, and be honest with yourself about your choices. And don’t forget to get in some activity, too.
- Shop for a meal, not ingredients. How often have you gone to the store with no plan, bought a bunch of food and beverages, and then decided you had nothing to eat in the house by the time you got home with all your bounty? One reason this happens is because individual things are purchased with no plan of action. If you are tired and hungry, shop for things you know for sure you are going to use. Save your “scavenger hunt shopping” for a fun day when you have time to pull up a new recipe on your phone and shop for items that go together.
- Remember we are humans who thrive on a nutrient-rich menu pattern. I hate to break it to you, but we have to make sure we’re getting the nutrients we need to keep our bodies and minds performing optimally. If you have a pet, you take the time to carefully select the correct pet food, right? And when you fill up your car, you pull up to the pump with the right kind of fuel, don’t you? You deserve that very same thing. Be good to yourself. You deserve it (but you also need it). We have to allow (and embrace) the time it takes to care for ourselves from a nutritional perspective.
- Have fun. Sometimes we forget that doing the right thing doesn’t have to be a chore, boring, or tasteless. Experiment—which is fun in and of itself—break out of your mold, and find new things that you love to eat. Better choices can be exciting choices if you just give it a try.
Kim Kirchherr, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE, FAND is an award winning registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. She is Vice President, National Dairy Council and IGA Health & Wellness Advisor. Kim has experience in agriculture, supermarket, media (traditional and social), hospital-based health and fitness centers, and outpatient MNT programs. Kim currently serves as the Chair-Elect of the Food & Culinary Professionals Dietetic Practice Group (FCP DPG) and has served as chair of both the FCP Agriculture and Supermarket Subgroups. She is past president of Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. http://www.linkedin.com/in/kimkirchherr. For more inspiring, timely tips and recipes, visit IGABetterChoices.com.
For more healthy dining options take a look at these other articles from Together Counts!