How about a longer view?
When thinking about eating more nutrient dense, many people set their sights on January. Then by mid- to end of January, people give up. Instead of a radical change in January, how about trying to establish small eating changes each month during the year? Changes can also be tackled each Monday giving 52 opportunities in a year to eat more nutrient dense. If the beginning of the year is not a good time for focusing on eating, then think about another time that may be better in the year, like March.
Focus on small, realistic changes, one at a time
For most people smaller incremental changes, one at a time, are better. Most important is for each person to decide what changes make sense for them. However, if some ideas would help, try one of these. Make them realistic by doing them 5 or 6 days (or however many days is realistic for you) per week:
- Add a vegetable to lunch
- Drink 12 ounces water at each meal
- Set utensils down between every bite of food at meals
- Eat mindfully at X number of meals per week with attention on the tastes, colors, and textures of food
- Add a protein food to breakfast
Involve a friend or loved one
First off, shout out to Coach Mimi on this one! She and her partner work on food shopping or prep together so neither is left doing all of the work and they don’t miss out on time together. This strategy also works with children. Involve them in food prep and they build food skills (eg, wash veggies, make a salad or salad dressing, chop fruit for a fruit salad, measure oatmeal into containers for overnight oats) for a lifetime.
What if you fail?
Everyone can have setbacks. What comes next is what is important. You don’t fail, if you don’t give up!
Accept setbacks and turn your attention away from what you did not do to the things you did do. Striving to eat more nutrient dense foods is a life-long endeavor. It is all about progress, not perfection. Remember, there is another Monday right around the corner!
Happy and healthful eating,
Donna G. Pertel, MEd, RD, LDN
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