In so many ways, food is joy! It’s a celebration, comfort, entertainment, and expression of creativity and love. But when it comes to healthy eating, we often forget that food can still be all of these things, without sacrificing anything but the added fat, calories, and unhealthy aspects of poor food choices that we are better to do without. We can still find joy, comfort, and creativity in making healthy choices. It’s all about perspective.
Especially for senior adults, making healthy food choices is critical to overall health, immunity, and disease prevention. But in an effort to eat healthy, sometimes it can feel like you’re being told to give up the foods you love. Keep reading for tips to help find the balance between healthy choices and delicious food that’s worthy of celebration – everyday!
Focus on what matters most.
Consider this: what do you want right now vs. what do you want most? That unhealthy meal might sound great in the moment, but if your long-term goal is a longer, healthier life filled with rich memories with family, all of a sudden that one meal seems small in comparison. Keep in mind that in order to work toward what you want most, you may need to make small sacrifices and demonstrate discipline with the little things. Whenever you’re temped to chalk up your eating choices to “Does it really matter?” or “I don’t care about my weight or how I look, I just want to eat what I want,” keep in mind that you’re choosing the short-term indulgence over the long-term reward that will last a whole lot longer!
Plan your indulgences.
Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to be “perfect” 100% of the time. Quite the opposite! It means you’re committed to making healthy choices most of the time, and allowing yourself to indulge on special occasions when it really matters. Plus, you’ll enjoy these indulgences that much more when they’re not an everyday occurrence. The best advice is to plan ahead for what you know you will really enjoy, rather than making decisions on a whim. Attending a dinner party and know that you really want some of the hostess’s famous pie for dessert? Go for it! But consider how you might scale back on your dinner portions or swap in more vegetables and less meat. This brings us to the following important point.
Experiment with healthy swaps.
You may not be able to trick your brain (or your tastebuds) into believing the cauliflower crust pizza tastes exactly the same as the bread version, but you might be surprised that you like the healthier pizza crust in its own right. Plus, when you consider how it’s affording you a healthier lifestyle that can contribute to less ailments and a better quality of life in the future – you just might fall in love with it for other reasons! There is so much information available to inspire healthy swaps. People across the world have been experimenting with this for years, so learn from their efforts. Take to the internet and scout out some new recipes and ideas that are fun to try with family and friends. Speaking of which…
Make it a team effort.
Invite a loved one, or your whole inner circle to join you in your quest for a healthier diet. When you include other people in your goals, you are more likely to remain accountable and consistent. They can offer encouragement and be a source of strength and motivation when yours is lacking. Willpower is much stronger in community! This doesn’t mean everyone has to eat exactly the same or strive for the same goals. Start with a small commitment to provide healthy choices for meals and snacks when you’re together, choose activities that get you moving, and share in the celebration getting healthier together.
Reframe how you view food.
And finally, take a close look at how you might view food. Are you elevating it to a priority in your life that’s not warranted? Are you attaching emotions too closely to the foods you eat – or don’t eat? This can make it difficult to ease out of bad habits if there’s a deeply rooted emotional tie that leads you to believe it’s a bigger sacrifice than it really it. It may take time and some dedicated effort to get over the hurdles of an unhealthy relationship with food, but it will be one of the most empowering things you do for yourself – and those you love!
What healthy eating tip did you find the most useful or inspiring? Is there another tip you think should be included in this article?
Share your own healthy eating advice in the comments below!