We here at the LivingNotes team are not doctors or dieticians licensed to provide medical advice. This article is based on research and experience.
Food and eating is a complex topic, and there are many factors that go into living a healthy lifestyle. Here, we’ll talk about the idea behind incorporating structure and routine into your food and wellness habits, as well as recommend some helpful tips and tools to succeed.
Why is structure important?
Structure is a crucial element in the process of creating healthy, balanced habits. For example, if you’re on a busy travel schedule and end up eating dinner at 9PM two nights, but 6 the others, you’ve likely been disengaged in your health habits. The consequences of an unstructured meal routine affect your physical sensations such as energy and digestion, as well as overall mental well-being. Here are some ways that you can create a more structured food and wellness routine:
- Pick a set of healthy snacks you enjoy and always have them on hand
- Snack between meals in moderation
- Try to eat meals at the same time frames
- Practice mindful eating
- Food and wellness journal
Pick a set of healthy snacks you enjoy and always have them on hand
Consider a wide variety of snack items that you enjoy, and make sure to always keep them stocked. It happens to each and every one of us – we run out of carrots and hummus and resort to the hefty bag of potato chips sitting in the pantry. Having healthy, fulfilling snacks around is a skill to avoid restricting and limiting yourself, while also not consuming food that’s packed with fat and sugar.
Healthful foods that are filled with protein and essential fats also create a feeling of fullness and satisfaction, in comparison to empty carbs and refined sugars. Examples of healthy snacks that are rich in nutrients include nuts and seeds, fruits, veggies with a natural dip, Greek yogurt, and nut butter with whole grain toast.
Snack between meals in moderation
Going long periods of time between each meal isn’t always ideal, and it’s a good rule of thumb to listen to what our bodies need. Try picking a time for snacking and stick with it. For example, if breakfast is at 8:00 AM, eat a snack at around 11 AM. This helps establish a stable, regular routine to stay loyal to on a regular basis.
Try to eat meals in the same time frames
Another structuring tactic; choosing the same time ranges of each day to eat meals. Our bodies crave routine, so when we step outside of it, it puts us more at risk for bad initiating bad habits. Select meal times based on when you wake up in the morning, when work is done for the day, and the best time to have a midday break. Consuming meals at the same time each day can also help with mindful eating.
Enjoy the cooking process
Cooking should be an element of your life that’s exciting, rewarding, and enjoyable. This doesn’t mean that preparing a multi-step meal that takes two hours is going to be pleasurable, but just making yourself or your family fresh food each day. Compile a list of creative recipes that include ingredients you enjoy and are also time-efficient. Turn on a podcast or some music and really become engaged in the activity.
Meal planning services are also a great way to tune into the meal preparing routine and incorporate that structure. Diet-to-go and Green Chef are two of our favorites for this, as they contain organic, fresh food that’s easy to make. Both of these programs also list the meal’s ingredients, so you know exactly what’s going in your body. Receiving the meals at your door is an exciting event to look forward to, whether it’s just you, friends, or a family of your own.
Practice mindful eating
Mindful eating is one of the most beneficial disciplines to practice. Some of the most prominent benefits to mindful eating are improved digestion, weight management, and mental health.
Mindful eating is extremely advantageous when it comes to health and wellness, both physically and mentally. The practice basically encourages you to grow present in the act of preparing food, eating, and digesting. It may sound unnatural at first, but you might notice yourself enjoying food to the fullest and feeling completely satisfied post-meal.
Mindful eating is another exceptional structuring strategy, as it forces you to become engaging in the eating process; therefore, you’re not performing the act out of obligation.
Drink lots of water
Yes, you’ve probably heard this before. It’s a repetitive and popular statement, only due to the amazing properties of water. Water has so many benefits other than hydration, like energy elevation, digestion, and skin health. If you’re on the go, consider purchasing a large portable water bottle that you can carry everywhere or keep in the car.
Another great way to consume more water is by adding sweet fruits, such as lemons or oranges into the drink. Bubbly waters like Bubly Sparkling Waters and Huzzah are also refreshing, crisp, and fun to drink. Increasing your water intake throughout the day can help improve concentration, dietary satisfaction, and mental wellness. Therefore, it’s an exceptional habit to keep in mind while working on structure.
Food and wellness journal
Wellness journals can be truly transformative. Their main purpose is to help you record your daily meals, snacks, and physical activity, but they’re great for many other things as well. Monitoring your habits and goals in a wellness journal can create an ongoing feeling of accomplishment, which promotes healthy self esteem.
How do I use a wellness Journal?
Wellness journals may be organized differently depending on the type and brand, but they remain fairly similar for the most part. Food and wellness journals are designed with several sections for you to record what you’ve eaten throughout the day, as well as how many calories, carbs, fat, sugar, etc. there are in the items. For example, the Legend Wellness Planner, has a spot at the bottom of each page that lets you fill in how many cups of water and caffeinated beverages you’ve consumed throughout the day. In addition, you can record your energy level, stress level, and overall happiness. For those who are weight conscious or have specific weight goals, there are options for daily weight and calorie counts. Note that these are completely optional, and everyone’s situation is different.
The take away
If living a healthier life is part of your goal list, consider what structure means and how it can apply to you. Structure translates to balance, which in take means a more content mind. Even if you have unpredictable days, travel plans, family visiting, whatever the occasion, there are still methods of finding balance.