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What are you gonna do about it?

The more you know and “get”, the more fun you can have while doing what you need to do.

Why do you buy what you buy and eat what you eat? We learn about food from our families and those closest to us starting when solids are introduced at 4-6 months old. Our lifestyle habits – what we choose and like to eat, our sleeping routine really start to get established in the first year of life.  This point isn’t to give anyone an excuse as to why they have food or weight to manage as an adult. It’s meant to share how important what we do and how we eat is no matter how old we are. Through my years as a dietitian, I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard that people say something about how kids can eat whatever they want, or it doesn’t matter what I feed my child, or the reason I eat this stuff is because it’s in the house for the kids. Not.

When I would host grocery store tours targeting particular needs (diabetes, heart, weight management) for my patients/shoppers, we had loads of fun. Yes, it’s serious, especially when it revolves around learning more to nutrition related health conditions. This does not mean you can’t have fun. In fact, I think the more informed you are about your options, the more fun you can actually have while doing what you need to do to manage your health and work towards your goals because you know what you are doing.

Grocery shopping is like a treasure hunt. Whether with a dietitian like me or on your own, go in expecting to find something that you’d like to try that is tasty and supports your goals.

There are 38,900 items in a typical grocery store in the U.S. That means we have a whole lot of choice. That also means this is in addition to every single other thing in life that we are juggling and that is competing for our attention. No wonder people want to simplify their reasons to buy what they do! Can you imagine trying to perfect the information about the nutrition, farming practices, packaging, and cooking techniques for even just the items that go into a typical dinner? Yikes. Chill, dear friends. Take a deep breath and give yourself a moment to remember (or decide) what is important to you.

Here are three things you can do to help you prioritize your choices and focus on eating better, moving more, and taking care of yourself. The payoff? Better outcomes personally and professionally, all the way around.

  1. Keep a food log. I prefer the old school method of writing it down (or typing it). Choose three days, preferably when you are at work and at home. The reason I like to write it is to do this next step that I came up with to make it easier (and fun) for my clients and me to easily talk about what this step of recording what we eat and drink actually tells us. Once you complete this log, assign a highlighter color to each of the five food groups (fruits, veg, dairy, grain, protein) and a color for treat foods. This will help, at a glance, determine what foods you are missing and what foods you may be overeating so you can figure out what you can do to get yourself where you need and want to be.
  2. Build in more activity. We don’t get more time in our day. I’m talking about rethinking how you use your time, not pretending that we can add more. Also not talking about marathons here. I’ve never run one myself and unless this is a personal goal, this is not what we need to focus on. I’m talking about walking, building in activity on the road, parking farther, and using the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator for one to two floors. Where does your day easily fit in a few steps? Do those things.
  3. Remember that thinking time is productive time. Scurrying around like a squirrel looking for food before winter in a parking lot (i.e., where no food will be found) is really not how we can achieve success. Motion is not the same as outcome, and think time is critical to pretty much everything we do. If you give yourself time to think about where you want to go (personally or professionally), it’s way easier to be successful. Think about running a race or taking a trip. If you don’t know where the finish line is or where you are headed, it’s awfully hard to get there.

What can you do differently in your routine to get started today?

The Thinker. #Rodin at Chicago Art Institute

By Kim Kirchherr

I am a dietitian working in food and fiber (agriculture) through retail, addressing opportunities to make things better for people and planet.