Healthy eating can be easy, but for some of us it’s hard not to trip up when we face one or two common hurdles.
It’s important to identify barriers that keep us from reaching our health goals, so we can put in place strategies for a positive lifestyle change.
Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan shares her healthy eating tips to help Queenslanders reduce their cancer risk:
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Hurdle: Not enough time.
View time spent preparing nutritional food as an investment in your health and happiness. Plan your meals and snacks for the week in advance and choose basic meals if you are especially time-poor. Also, by doubling recipes and having the leftovers for lunch or later in the week, you can save even more time.
Hurdle: Too costly.
A healthy diet can be healthy for your budget too. Eating nourishing foods will give you more energy, keeping you fuller for longer, so you don’t end up reaching for more. Stick to a list when shopping and fill your pantry with versatile items from the five food groups. By shopping for fresh produce that’s in season and what’s on special you can save big. Swap out expensive, packaged snacks, for fresh fruit and low fat yoghurt or vegetable sticks and salsa. Canned seafood, like tuna, is easy to keep on the shelf, healthy, and low-cost. Plus, canned lentils and chickpeas are healthy sources of protein and easy on the wallet.
Hurdle: Eating out.
If you know dining out frequently is impacting your diet, try pre-eating a healthy snack before you leave home or giving yourself a food and alcohol limit at events. If you are going to a restaurant, check the menu and nutritional information online beforehand, so you won’t be as tempted to make a poor choice when you are there. Make sure to select a main meal with plenty of vegetables or choose salad instead of chips as a side dish.
Boredom and emotional eating can get the better of many people. Instead of checking the fridge for a treat, choose to develop awareness of your eating habits and practice mindful eating. Empty your house of junk food, so it’s not close to hand, and focus on exercising instead. Exercise is a healthy way to cope with stress and emotional upsets, so expend nervous energy by dancing to your favourite song, go for a bike ride or take a brisk walk.
Hurdle: Peer influence.
If you have loved ones encouraging you to choose cheesecake over vegetables, it can be difficult to keep your resolve. Explain to your friends and family that you are trying to improve your health, so they have the chance to support you. Organise get-togethers where you will be more inclined to make healthy choices – head to a park or invite people to your own home, where you can create the menu.
If any of these hurdles sound familiar, ask yourself, “If I can overcome these roadblocks, how will my life be different than it is today?” Will you feel healthier and more energised?
Having a poor diet significantly increases your risk of becoming overweight or obese and being diagnosed with a range of chronic diseases, including some cancers.
There is no better time than now to start planning for your healthier future!
For more information on healthy living and reducing your cancer risk, visit cancerqld.org.au or call Cancer Council’s 13 11 20.