The right nutrition for you

You’ve prepped, you’ve planned, you’ve joined Facebook groups. You are OWNING this parenting thing. The kids eat well, play hard, and only enjoy the smallest amount of screen time between their many extra-curricular activities. Since before they were born, you have been laser-focused on making sure that you did everything right for them and, so far, they’ve survived. Now that you have a knack for taking care of the small humans you created, it’s time to spend a little bit of that energy taking care of yourself. Whether your goal is weight loss, disease prevention, or just a better overall feeling of wellness, a little planning in your diet can make a huge difference in your quality of life. 

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First, plan the logistics  of your new healthy eating lifestyle. Go to the grocery store with an eye towards whole foods that are nutritionally dense to get the most bang for your dietary buck. You need to go on a full stomach, too, to avoid overspending and impulse purchases. You should plan for lots of smaller meals, instead of the three large meals that we have been conditioned to expect. Those meals should include healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats (avoid the dreaded saturated and trans fats whenever possible!!), whole grains, and lean proteins whenever possible. Mix them all up to ensure that your meals are satisfying and provide good fuel. Avoid even fresh-squeezed juices, which have so much sugar content they can trigger your pancreas to release too much insulin. Instead, buy whole, fresh, in-season produce in order to ensure that your food hasn’t lost too much nutritional value during the trip from warmer climates. 

Once you get your whole, unprocessed, high fiber, lean protein, whole grain goodies home, you might find it all a bit overwhelming as you try to figure out just what the heck to do with all of it. Everything seems like such a good idea on the shelves, but do you actually know how to prepare butternut squash? There are plenty of resources out there for how-to’s and recipes, so do what you can to plan for the week ahead, keeping in mind that several smaller meals are better than three large ones. Also, remember to eat enough food - under eating can lead to low energy and, ultimately, overeating. Remember that serving sizes are often much bigger than an actual recommended portion of a given food and try to track your meals with a food diary  to keep yourself accountable and follow your good (and bad!) choices. 

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As you start your day, never skip breakfast and always avoid high sugar content with no nutritional value. A good breakfast should include protein and, yes, even a good dose of vegetables. If you work outside the home, try bringing your lunch instead of going out. You can control your portions and ingredients, plus it probably will cost less in long run. Bring enough snacks to get you through the day without committing the ultimate healthy-eating sin - the trip to the vending machine! Your snacks should be just as healthy as the rest of your meals and should contain whole, unprocessed foods that make up about 20% of your total calorie intake. As you eat, especially at work or when you’re home taking care of your mini-me’s, make sure that you take the time to enjoy every bit, and never eat standing up or even while watching television. If you are too distracted by whatever else you’re trying to do at the same time, you are more likely to overeat. Watch that late night snacking, too! Try to stop eating a couple of hours before bedtime to really punch up the fat burning process overnight. 

Feeling stressed? We know, dumb question. If you never felt stressed, you probably wouldn’t be reading this. Stress impacts more than our mood. It can trigger excess cortisol, which results in higher amounts of fat around our midsections ( the dreaded “spare tire”). If you concentrate on getting the best from your food, you can avoid or at least reduce the impact. High sugar foods, especially without lean protein to balance them out, can really wreak havoc on our cortisol levels. Avoid sugary treats that provide little by way of fiber or other nutrients and, once you’ve made the right choice  and have that apple instead of that apple juice, chase it with a handful of healthy almonds or other high protein nuts and seeds.  Avoid the temptation of sugary treats by sending them away with your dinner guests after the meal or, when dining out, not even looking at the dessert menu. 

With some planning and commitment, you can channel just a small portion of your super-parent energy into a little bit of self-care. Believe it or not, even a little bit of attention on your own plate can make a big difference.  The motivation comes easily - you want to be healthy and active to keep up with your kids and every other part of your life. Actually putting it all into practice, though? That’s where we come in. Join Jinga Life to get the best out of life.