Guest post by Nora Minno, Aromatherapy Associates Eat, Move Wellbeing Ambassador

With all of the fad diets and trends floating around, it can be quite difficult to know where to start. The good news is, eating for wellness doesn’t have to be complicated – in fact, it can be quite simple.

Here are my top 3 tips for eating for wellness:

  1. Focus on plants – lots of themIf you ask me, the best part about eating is the variety! There are so many colorful fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains that you can add to your diet (note* when I say diet, I mean holistic eating habits, not restriction) and the more, the better. A variety of colors means a variety of different vitamins, minerals, and tiny compounds we called phytonutrients, which have a number of different functions that work to keep you healthy. If eating a variety fruits and veggies is new to you, start by focusing on incorporating at least 1 fruit or veggie per meal. For example, add some spinach or tomatoes to your omelet, or pack some apple slices with your sandwich at lunch.

    You can slowly build up your repertoire, but no need to get overwhelmed at first. If you are more comfortable with eating or cooking with fruits and veggies aim for at least 50% of your plate at each meal to be plants then build from there. If you are looking to incorporate even more veggies in 2019, start to explore ways to incorporate more plant-based protein into your diet – whether that’s tofu, edamame, beans, lentils, quinoa, or nuts, there are so many ways to build your plate around plants. Studies have shown that eating a plant-based diet can help reduce the risk for many diseases including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease – so it is a tried and true way to eat for wellness.

  2. If it’s restrictive, it’s probably not worthwhile
    There are so many fad diets floating around and it can be hard to tell fact from fiction. However, if you come across a diet that is restrictive, for example, only drinking celery juice for breakfast and lunch, or that cuts out an entire food group, like carbohydrates, it’s probably not sustainable or healthy for the long run. Being restrictive with your diet can also lead to disordered eating habits or feelings of guilt and stress at meals, therefore the best approach is to eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats (think avocado, nuts, olive oil), whole grains, and lean proteins, like fish or tofu. Each macronutrient -- protein, fat, and carbohydrate serve an important purpose in your health, so it's important not to overly restrict any of those groups. *Note: certain populations may need to adhere to certain dietary guidelines, if you are uncertain, consult a registered dietitian or physician.
  3. Practice mindfulness before and during meals
    With all of the distractions of screens, work, kids, etc. – sometimes the most difficult part of eating is just to be present at a meal. It is important to build a relationship with our food and that often starts by just acknowledging the act of putting food on the plate, and from the plate to your mouth. This can be hard to do with distractions, and if we are not present at our meal, it can very easily lead to overeating.

    Before a meal, turn off the TV, put down your phone, and focus on the food in front of you and the company around the table. Meals will become more enjoyable, and like I said, you will be less likely to overeat. It takes about 20 minutes for our brains to receive the signal that we are getting full, so slowing down is always a good idea. If you feel like you struggle with overeating or eating out of boredom, before you reach for a snack, as yourself a few questions, “Am I hungry? Why am I eating now? Will this nourish my body? How will I feel after I eat this?” These simple steps can help bring a sense of awareness to your eating and help you form new habits.