Let’s face it, some days are better than others. But there is a lot you can control, and often food is one of them! Food, my friends, is one of the best things in the whole wide world. Making sure to maximize a few things could take a crappy day and make it wonderful. Here are some important ways to add a little joy to your life through food:
- Program your coffee maker the night before. What is better than waking up to the smell of fresh coffee wafting through the house? Nothing, that’s what! Don’t need the caffeine? Go half caf, decaf, or even just brew some hot water and set the tea bag in the coffee pot so it’s already steeping when you awake from your slumber.
- Make your lunch ahead of time. While we’re on the topic of prepping things beforehand, let’s make sure that lunch is already made. You don’t need to start your day in a hectic race out the door, with an elevated likelihood of forgetting your snacks (worst day EVER!). Have it all made, and things will be good.
- Actually EAT breakfast. I can’t tell you how many of my patients skip breakfast. This, my friends, is not cool. You need to put something in your system if you want to have energy for the morning. A bright and perky morning sets the tone for your whole day. I don’t know about you, but without food, I’m a true monster. Just ask Brooks.
- Put veggies in that breakfast, and some protein. Ok, so the veggies may not happen every morning, but I try to do it most days! Getting a serving of vegetables before most people have eaten at all is basically bonus life points. You’ll feel fuller, you’ll stay fuller for longer, and you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to getting all the essential micronutrients (aka vitamins and minerals) that you need for the day. Try something like a TOFU SCRAMBLE or VEGGIE SCRAMBLE with a piece of whole grain bread.
- Take time for lunch. I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to working through lunch, but I feel much more fulfilled when I don’t. Take the time to change your location, eat slowly and thoughtfully, and pay attention to what you’re eating. How does it taste? How does it make you feel? Hopefully, if you packed well the night before your lunch will be something exciting that lifts your spirits and fuels you for the rest of the day.
- Don’t neglect the afternoon snack. If you’re building your lunch correctly, you won’t get hungry for 3+ hours after you’ve eaten. Regardless, dinner is often 6 or 7 hours after lunch, and that’s way too long to go without eating! Do yourself a favor, and instead of starving, have a snack that contains both fiber and protein (the produce + protein combo works well). Think hummus and carrots, apple and PB, grapes and string cheese, berries and plain yogurt.
- Eat dinner as a family. Put the screens away. Prepare a meal, eat it together, and enjoy the company of whoever you’re with. Family meals have been shown to increase self esteem, reduce risk for things like drug use, teen pregnancy, and violence; and decrease risk of eating disorders and obesity. Conversely, eating solo is linked to a lower quality diet. At the very least, take the time to connect with those you love over food, slow down and appreciate what you’re eating, and pay attention to hunger and fullness cues.
- Go ahead, have a treat. I’m not saying you need to eat a hamburger, but maybe you do. Could be buying a bag of those oh-so-expensive but oh-so-delicious cherries. Or maybe it’s the perfectly regimented “square of dark chocolate after dinner” that so many anal-retentive health nuts cite as their diabolical food habit. For me it was a dollar cone from McD’s between track and dinner on Monday. The point is, as long as you’re getting all the good stuff in your diet, there is probably room for some less-healthy options. The point is, you should enjoy your food. Allowing some “treats” here and there is a reasonable way to find joy through food.