Succeed with Your Food & Eating: Set Small Goals

race as a family

If you’re like me, then setting goals and keeping them is not your nature. I have learned the hard way that having specific goals help me get more done instead of doing several things at once and getting nowhere. One very productive way to write a goal is to use the SMART method.

Time to set some goals and tie a date to them!

Create SMART Goals

race as a family

  • Specific: Choose a specific goal instead of being vague. Don’t say ‘eat better and exercise more’. What does that mean? Instead you could say you want to eat less junk food dessert and exercise twice a week.
  • Measurable: How do you know when you reached your goal? Setting a weekly number to track has been motivating for me. It’s easier to track and if I failed one week I have the next week to get started again.
  • Attainable: Most people don’t change drastically overnight. Work on 1 or 2 goals at a time so you don’t feel overwhelmed. 
  • Realistic: Make sure your goal is something you can do and truly believe in.If you hate going to the gym, then don’t have a goal of going there 5x/week.
  • Time Based: When do you want to reach your goal? By setting a deadline, you can work backwards and break down the steps into mini goals.

Action is Better than Perfection

Try to go ahead and pick one thing to actually do to improve your health. It can very hard to really analyze what you need to reach your goals if you’re trying to change everything at once.
With most worthwhile efforts, getting started is the biggest thing to do.  My husband is a focused individual by nature, so it’s easier for his to cut out the white noise and work on a specific goal at a time.
When we decided to change our eating habits and eat less processed foods for meals at home, he was able to keep to it fairly well.

I’m not like that, so I do it a bit differently. I had an app I used to track what I ate. Being busy, it helped to remind me that I had a goal to reach for that day.

Thoughts on Reaching Your Goals

Please let me know what food and eating goals you have. How have you progressed in 2011? What motivated you to get started?

Photo Credit: easylocum

Family Dinners and Social Meals – Health Benefits?

social meals with family and friends

Have you ever enjoyed a great dinner with friends? Do you have fond memories of eating with your family at home or during a fantastic vacation? What makes the meals so special? It’s the company we meals with family and friends

Part of the appeal and the enjoyment of food is sharing it with others. I look forward to having dinner at home. For my husband and I, it’s a chance for us to share our days with each other and get things off our chests.

Besides the social benefits of enjoying there are some huge health benefits for families sitting down for a meal.

Health Benefits of Family Dinners

How important are family dinners? According to Dr. Matthew W. Gillman’s ( Harvard Medical School) study of over 15,000 children ages 9 to 14 years old:

Eating family dinner was associated with healthful dietary intake patterns, including more fruits and vegetables, less fried food and soda, less saturated and trans fat, lower glycemic load, more fiber and micronutrients from food, and no material differences in red meat or snack foods.

They found that children and adolescents had an increased intake of fiber, calcium, folate, iron, vitamins B6, B12, C, and E.

Selecting a Meal that Works for Us

Since we tend to eat more when we’re around friends and family, it’s important to choose a meal that won’t push us to pack on the pounds.

For us, we’re increasing the vegetables with our meals. Signing up for The Produce Box helped us by giving us a steady supply of fresh produce.

Here are some of the weekly deliveries we’ve had over this past season:

  • 2 green pepper, grape tomatoes, blueberries, cucumbers, corn (6-7 ears), yellow squash, and cantaloupe
  •  2 lbs Strawberries, 1 bunch sweet Texas onions, Sweet Potatoes, 1.5 shares of tomatoes, and 2 Romaine Lettuces
  •  Purple Sweet Potatoes,  Arugula, Rutabagas, Strawberries, Romaine Lettuce, Garlic Scallions, and Bok Choy

Thoughts on Social Eating

How many of you sit down for family dinners regularly? How many of you get together with friends to enjoy a meal? What have been a few of your favorite meals and memories

Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann


Peer Pressure and Food Habits

family dinner peer pressure

More Fun, More Food?

Do you find yourself grabbing a few helping when hanging out with family and friends? Have you noticed that your eating out bills increase drastically when you go out with friends?

family dinner peer pressure
Watch how you eat with loved ones - you could trim your waistline.

When I get together with loved ones, I’m guilty of this. Besides the good cooking, I also keep eating as I’m catching up on the latest news. It’s quite for us to lose track of time.

Tips on How to Resist Peer Pressure with Eating Out

If you’re looking for some help, here are a few tips:

  • Find the slowest eater and try to match their pace. It’s not a race, so don’t try to finish first. Enjoy your meal and the company instead by pacing yourself.
  • Don’t clean your plate. Leaving just a bit of food on your plate can help you resist a well intentioned friend’s offer of another helping.
  • Eat a bit before you meet up. Grab a snack with protein and then join your friends at the restaurant. Save money and your waistline by ordering an appetizer during dinner.
  • Join the table a little bit later. If you think you can’t fight the temptation to eat less, then go ahead and meet up with friends for dessert.
While these tips don’t seem earth shattering they can help you cut down a bit when you eat out. Small changes are more likely to keep you on track than bigger, but unsustainable changes.

Thoughts on Eating with Friends

I’d love to hear your thoughts on your eating habits with loved ones.  Have you noticed that you eat more with your friends or can you keep yourself on target?

Do you and your friends have similar eating habits? What tips do you have on keeping your meal portion reasonable when hanging with friends?

Photo Credit: D Sharon Pruitt

Slow It Down! Enjoying a Meal

eat meals slower

Multitasking is Not Good for Eating

I’ve heard from my parents that you are what you eat. I’m learning, though, that how you eat also has a big impact on you.

When you focused on more than one thing, you’re a multitasker, productive, and a wizard. Hwoever is that what you need when you’re eating meal? Not according to studies.

  • 62% Sometimes/often too busy to sit down and eat
  • 35% Eat their lunch at their desk while working

What problems can that leat meals sloweread to? Typically people will overeat and that can lead to weight gain. I can also add to your stress as you rush through your meal to get back to work.

4 Reasons to Slow Down and Enjoy Your Meals

Looking for concrete reasons to slow down with your next meal? Here are four great ones:

  1. Better Digestion: Make it easier on yourself by taking your time and fully chewing your meal instead of wolfing it down.
  2. Easier to Watch Your Calories: Eating too quickly can increase the calories you intake before your body feels full. Take your time and cut the calories. If you eat 140 calories less each day, that can add to 14lbs/year.
  3. More Enjoyable Meals: If you have a great meal in front of you, it’s more enjoyable if you’re taking your time. However, if you have a not so good meal, you’ll quickly be encouraged to switch up your food choices. Maybe that will encourage you to make your own healthier meals.
  4. Be More Aware of Your Food: Taking a moment to examine your food can help you become more aware of the connection of farm to your fork.

Thoughts on Enjoying a Meal

I admit that I do sometimes rush through meals when I have a full schedule. I’m learning, though, that it’s better to slow down and enjoy not just my meal, but the rest of the day.

Looking for more information? You may want to check out the Slow Food movement. It has a ton of information, stories, and tips.

How about you? Do you rush through meals or do you like to slow it down and enjoy them?

Photo Credit: Salim Virji

The American Diet: More Calories

apple for snacks

Snacking Hundreds of Calories a Day

Yesterday I was watching Good Morning America and the first full story I saw was about the change in the American Diet. It turns out that as a nation, we’re eating many more calories on a daily basis. How much?

Americans eat roughly 570 calories more per day than they did in the 1970s, according to a new study. While supersize portions are partly to blame, steady snacking is the bigger culprit.

My first suspicion was portion size, so I was surprised that snacking was a bigger issue.

“It used to be you’d have three meals a day. And if you snacked, it was unsweetened tea or coffee,” said Popkin. “Nowadays, everywhere you turn there’s food. If you’re driving, you have a big bag of Doritos next to you while you drive.”

I didn’t really know that tidbit about previous diets. Growing up, we always had snacks available. Many times it was stuff like graham crackers with peanut butter, crackers and cheese, or popsicles.  Soft drinks weren’t an option at our house unless people brought it over for a get together. We also could only have a certain amount, so as to not spoil our dinner.

apple for snacks

The heavy stuff – cookies, cakes, and ice cream was reserved for dessert. The rule was we had to finish a majority of dinner before we allowed to even ask for dessert. How many of you grew up with similar rules?

Obesity on the Rise

As far as the study mentioned in GMA, here are the consequence mentioned:

More than one-quarter of adults in the United States are obese, according to a 2010 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a proportion that has steadily grown over the past 30 years as Americans tend to “eat more and do less,” said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center.

How about you? Have you noticed a change in your eating habits? If you snack, how do you keep from packing on the pounds? What are some of your low calories snacks?

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