As many of you dear readers know at this point, I’m not always the best at being consistent with my eating habits. It’s easy to slip up in a country where people fought tooth and nail to bring the Twinkie back… But look, in the last few years the U.S. has seen a rise in accessibility of organic, low-calorie, and nutrient-rich foods. With more options than ever, there are even fewer excuses to start later. Here are my top six, most important eating habits to help you shape up this decade. Shall we?
Find healthy convenience foods (not a joke!)
Studies have shown that over a quarter of us are eating more fast food now than we were in our teens. Between college, starting a family, buying a house, and trying to impress your boss (or married boss power couple) your 20s and 30s are a period in which we lose a lot of time climbing the ladder of life. When we finally have time to eat, there’s often nothing left but the seductive glow of those golden arches. Instead of hitting the drive-thru, check out the local grocery store. Time savers like rotisserie chicken, shrimp cocktail, steamed dumplings, or low-sugar salad kits will get you a lot farther than a #2 Combo. Trust me. A Costco chicken is your lifeline on a hectic Wednesday.
Stop the snack nonsense
Everyone relax! I’m not here to tell you to stop snacking, just make some smarter choices. While many snacks aren’t intended to be wholly nutritional, SOME options certainly get close (wink wink). I’m fortunate to work with two of the healthiest people I’ve ever met, so our office is consistently flowing with unsalted cashews, dried mango slices, and every flavor of broth (duh).
If these aren’t to your preferences that’s okay, just check a few criteria before you chow down:
- It’s a snack, not a meal – pick the right portion size.
- Reach for naturally sweetened snacks.
- Avoid snacks with added fat or sugar and replace them with bites that contain lots of water and fiber.
Don’t put Baby in the corner
Being a fresh college grad, I’m definitely not running towards motherhood, however I know it’s looming in the next decade. Parenthood typically finds us in our 20s and 30s and doesn’t always happen easily. More and more researchers have found links between diet and fertility for women AND men alike. It’s recommended that men maintain a healthy weight and diet high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to promote a high sperm count. Women should also maintain a healthy weight and seek foods rich in iron and folic acid. Both parties should abstain from excessive caffeine and alcohol.
You taste (so-da)ng good
Nothing makes me thirstier than those summer Coca-Cola commercials, and for good reason. Thanks to crafty marketing, low cost, and extreme availability, the U.S. is the world champ when it comes to soda consumption. I doubt any of you dear readers have never tasted that lovely fizz. However good it may taste, pop is our great undoing in our 20s and 30s – even if it’s labeled “diet.” Besides a plethora of chemical-y sugar substitutes, your favorite fix is full of empty calories. In addition to these lovely facts, the acid in soda is also not terribly friendly to the good bacteria in your gut microbiome. If you’re curious as to why this is so important to consider, read more here and we can talk.
Are you apocalypse ready?
Let’s say the zombie outbreak happened today. Can you make several meals with what’s in your fridge and pantry? Did you even go shopping last weekend? If the first answer yes and second no, you definitely don’t have enough fruits and veggies in your diet (whole other blog post here). The point: You should always be stocked with several healthy options. Find a day that works best for you and stick to it every week. Because my boyfriend often works during the weekend, we like to go shopping on Monday nights. Even in weeks where our cabinets are still brimming with broth, meat and friends, we still make it a point to go and pick up one thing we love and two we hate from the produce section. This is a good rule of thumb for beginners and/or those of us who aren’t always the most consistent. It’s much easier to justify stir fry instead of a Lean Cuisine if you’re packing it full of veggies.
Hello? Yes, this is your body
Who doesn’t miss the teenage days of eating like a golden retriever? Tossing it all back and waking up like an Olympic athlete the next day… take me back! While this isn’t exactly a suggestion directly related to your eating habits, it applies to all of us on the list: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Our 20s and 30s are when our bodies start falling out of their physical prime. The exact time is different for everyone, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. When eating, start practicing portion control. Chronic overeating is the easiest way to gain unnecessary weight that will stay with you for the rest of your life, creating complications and serious health issues. With that in mind, it’s also important to listen to your body in terms of exercise. Because our bodies are starting to heal slower in our late 20s/ early 30s, a mistake like overworking muscles can take you out of the gym for weeks. Always make sure to stretch before and after exercising and consult a trainer or your physician about a workout plan that will work best for you.
While fixing these habits now will certainly show some immediate returns, more importantly you will be investing in your future health physically and financially. Try implementing one at a time until you can consistently adhere to all of them. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Do you have another eating habit that has saved you down the road? A favorite healthy snack or soda substitute? Maybe just a good joke? Let me hear it in the comments down below.