If I told you that it’s more important than ever to prioritize your health, would it feel like I’ve suggested yet another chore for your to-do list? Would it feel intimidating given the other stressors and responsibilities of life? I get it. As a working mom guilty of saying “yes” too often and thus struggling to balance all those commitments, I totally empathize if you feel you can’t possibly add One. More. Thing. to your day. But what if these new habits – not chores – make the rest of your life lighter? By prioritizing your health, wellness, and plate, I promise you’ll find a bit of simplicity, less hectic dinners, and more energy to tackle your day. Here are some simple steps to get started.
Yes, it can be easy to feel guilty for focusing on one’s own diet, health, and workout routine. But you’re not being selfish; you’re spending time making a smart investment. An investment in purposeful nutrition, self-care, and daily exercise pays off with life efficiencies, more energy, an uptick in positivity, and motivation to crush your day.
You at your best self has a ripple effect. Conclusive research finds that women as the nuclei of family and community directly influences the habits of others. When you build a better plate for yourself, others see this and follow. When you focus on health and make strides towards fitness and purposeful nutrition, you become a role model to those around you. You become the “healthy colleague” that coworkers aspire to emulate. You become the workout role mode that gets the rest of your family moving. You save time and money by healing with better habits and reduced chronic disease risk rather than reliance on medications and medical intervention.
The demands of life, work, and family sometimes leaves us no choice but to create dinner out of convenient packaged options or (shhhh!) the drive thru in an attempt to throw together dinner after a jam-packed day. Real life happens, but with a bit of planning, you can prevent occasional fast food fare from turning into a chronic confession of “We eat way too much fast food.” Consider planning out a week’s worth of meals and shopping and prepping accordingly to offset those unavoidable last minute dinner disasters. Plan for most nights to include purposefully healthy fare. Allow for a night or two of leftovers. And if you rock 6 days out of 7 with healthy choices, that one night of take out isn’t going to totally derail your health.
The most common color on the typical plate is a sad shade of tan. It’s time to explore the color wheel packed with the nutrients you need. Eating the rainbow can be as easy as exploring new recipes like our Curried Sweet Potato and Tofu Salad (a soon-to-be family favorite jam packed with everyone’s favorite colors). With some simple culinary creativity, you can skip those tan refined grains, battered and fried foods, crackers, chips, and other snacks offering little aside from empty calories. By incorporating colorful fruits and vegetables, you add essential vitamins, minerals, filling fiber and leave less room for foods which thwart your healthy foundation. So aim for a serving (or more!) of fruit or vegetables per eating occasion. At breakfast, add berries to yogurt or spinach to scrambled eggs. Substitute a richly colored, flavorful pick like Sensei Farms Rainbow Chard instead of the usual translucent leaf. Nix the tortilla and instead, wrap your taco in rich romaine or butter leaf. Or add shredded carrots and bell peppers to your next panini. Snack on sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers alongside your go-to nuts and cheese.
We all have days (weeks? months?!) when our diet takes a backseat. Sidestep feelings of discouragement and when you’re ready to hit reset, choose a small goal that you know you can nail. Success builds confidence after all. Perhaps yesterday’s plate wasn’t something you’re proud of. No sweat. Today provides plenty of chances to fill in nutrient gaps. So double up on the veggies at lunch, add extra fruit to breakfast, and choose lean protein and whole grains over processed whenever the opportunity arises. Like life itself, balanced nutrition is truly a balancing act but don’t get overwhelmed; you got this!
Remember. Across a year, you’re handed over 1000 chances to move closer (or further) to your goal of better health and wellness. By taking one small step at a time and choosing better nutrition most of the time, you’re well on your way to being your best self.