I have written on this overarching topic before (not even referring to Part I which was posted on Monday!) because I think that it’s important for people to understand that as RDs, we face the same challenges as you do daily. Well a big part of my food philosophy and personal food rules is to establish very basic healthy habits to employ daily. Here is my everyday routine:
I have coffee with one of a few breakfasts in the morning (whole wheat toast with peanut butter and chia seeds, a chia charger and piece of fruit, oatmeal with ground chia and/or flax seeds, a high fiber cereal with a piece of fruit). I try to eat a nice, big salad for lunch most days; my only other alternatives might be a sandwich (1-2x/week) or cup of soup. I try to have a piece of fruit or small snack around 4PM so I don’t snack while I’m cooking dinner. And then with regards to dinner, I generally make well balanced meals using whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat couscous) and incorporate at least another 2 servings of veggies.
As you can see, setting up my daily routine to be healthy allows for a few things: 1. I’m not making decisions on the fly and am not tempted to have something less healthy. 2. Eating healthful real foods and lots of fruits and vegetables makes my meals very volume-satisfying while not being energy dense. 3. I’m getting in plenty of fiber and protein that lasts me between meals. 4. I have identified a problem area (snacking while cooking dinner) and set up a strategy to avoid it (4PM snack).
Less Decisions, Less Problems
The way I see it, I have 21 meal opportunities weekly to eat healthfully, so if I can make my daily routine healthy enough that each week I eat at least 15-18 healthy meals without really thinking about it or putting too much effort in, then I might have 4 or 5 meals decisions left in my week. The point isn’t to stray too far when I’m out of my routine, in fact I usually don’t because it doesn’t feel good to eat ‘poorly’. The point is that if I do go out for a nice meal, or decide to make pizzas with friends or munch on a cheese and crackers platter, I don’t feel bad about it and I’m not compromising my health for those meals because my routine and daily choices remain intact. This is where nutrition becomes about the lifestyle choices and not dieting.