It can be difficult to keep healthy nutrition habits with how hectic and busy life and schedules get, especially in first responder families. Nutrition is a topic that is important to discuss with a counselor and is often a topic I bring up with clients in counseling as one approach to help reduce stress.
I am in no way an expert on nutrition, but there is an abundant amount of research that shows how the food we consume has a direct impact on our mental health. For example, when we eat lots of carbohydrates, our thoughts can often feel foggy while our body seems more sluggish.
Since food is what fuels our body and mind every day, we wanted to share a few tips for ways to strengthen your nutrition routines.
Check out these 4 ways that can help strengthen your nutrition habits:
- Meal plan & preparation
- Grocery shopping
- Try new recipes
- Healthy snacks
1. Meal Plan & Preparation
Having planned meals and preparing for the week ahead can help keep us better on track with nutrition goals. Planning out meals for the week can also help alleviate stress of last-minute meal planning and help us better balance food choices.
An added bonus is that you can strengthen your relationships by having this be a fun activity to do with your spouse and family to get everyone involved incorporating their favorite meals.
Having a calendar with meals written down for the week on your phone or on the refrigerator can help keep you on track if you are cooking each night. Making or prepping all your meals for the week at once is another way to implement a routine if evenings are busy. The most important part is to find what works best for you.
2. Grocery Shopping
What we buy at the store is important since that will be the food we have access to in our homes.
Having a grocery list when shopping can help keep us from buying the unhealthy snacks and foods that are tempting to put in the cart. When you have a list, you are more likely to focus on finding the items on the list especially if they are ingredients to a recipe you are planning to make.
Going food shopping when you are not hungry is another way to help prevent buying those snack foods you may want to cut out of your diet.
3. Try New Recipes
Trying new foods and exploring different recipes for healthy foods you already eat is another way to help strengthen nutritional habits.
Often, vegetables can be one of the food groups that is hard to eat enough of, but they do not have to be bland or boring. Adding nutritious fruits, nuts, or other foods to fresh produce or trying out new recipes for making cooked vegetables more appetizing are two strategies to utilize.
Increasing the number of healthy options you like gives you more choices for creating a healthy meal plan.
4. Snack Options
For those who snack, or have snacks for their family members, one way to help encourage healthy snack options is to reduce barriers. For fresh fruits or vegetables, wash and cut them after buying or in the morning so they can be eaten at your convenience.
Keep healthier snack options like applesauce or fruit pouches, nuts, or other easy to eat foods in a place accessible to grab for options on the go. Also, having healthy snacks easily accessible at home, whether on the counter or ready in the refrigerator, is another way to help increase eating nutritious snacks.
Sometimes life gets hectic, and we have to adjust. Having a plan or strategy can help with your nutrition goals. When we find ways to implement the eating habits we want, it helps us feel more positive about the efforts we are putting toward our goals. We also feel good because of the healthy food choices we make.
I hope you find ways to create healthy and fun nutrition habits that work for you!
Liz Durfee, MSW
If you find that this exercise or these conversations brought up some stuff you are struggling with, either individually or in your relationship, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for help. We are here to support you, and we understand that this can be a challenging issue to face.
Remember, it may be your battle, but you don’t have to fight it alone.