These habits address the three factors at the core of all our eating behaviors: where we eat, what we eat, and how we eat. While there are multiple factors and habits that impact our food choices, we’ve found these habits are the first step most folks need to take in their journey. Here’s why:
• Stock For Success
Where we eat
What we have on hand—at home, work, in the car, etc.—impacts our food decisions. You can only eat what is available to you, and alternatively you cannot eat what is not there. Therefore, you can only make changes to what you eat by first changing the food that’s available to you.
• Balance Your Plate
What we eat
While there are many ways to fine-tune our diets, the very first thing to consider is balancing everything you eat with healthful foods. It can be helpful to first focus on getting enough fruits and veggies every time you eat—that automatically balances other food choices. The simplest way to do this is by practicing Half-Plate Healthy: Fill half of every plate with fruits and veggies and half with anything else. It’s easy, visual, and can be practiced by anyone, anytime, for any meal, snack or dessert.
• Eat Mindfully
How we eat
The way we approach food—our mindset and feelings about food and eating—impacts the decisions we make about food. Often, a negative mindset can lead to decisions we don’t feel good about, and this cycle can continue indefinitely. To disrupt this cycle, we must first develop awareness. You cannot change what you do not know; eating mindfully is about becoming aware and paying attention to your relationship with food—without judgement—so you can identify anything you’d like to change or improve.
At Wegmans, we believe healthy eating means bringing balance, variety, and moderation to your overall eating pattern. Our Healthy Eating Guidelines outline a plant-forward eating pattern that doesn’t restrict any specific food or food group.
While we encourage folks to adopt a plant-forward pattern of eating, we recognize there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to diet. The approach that will work for you is the one that is sustainable, supports your health goals, meets your individual needs and preferences, and can be followed safely.
Most experts agree that successful weight management comes from a healthy diet and regular movement, while also addressing stress reduction and restorative sleep. While it is tempting to ask for a weight loss prescription, the truth is the approach that works will be different for every individual. However, these characteristics are common among all successful weight loss journeys:
• Realistic—choosing an approach you can follow long term (not just a short amount of time) leads to sustainable change
• Slow & steady—making small changes and losing weight gradually gives your mind and body the necessary time to adjust
• Enjoyable—an approach that feels restrictive will not be sustainable, so finding a path you truly find pleasurable is key
Calorie needs vary for each person, depending on things like age, gender, health status, and activity level. To estimate your individual needs, consider using a calorie calculator, such as MyFitnessPal, The Mayo Clinic’s Calorie Calculator, MyPlate Calorie Counter, or USDA’s Choose My Plate resources.
Keep in mind these are just estimates, and these calculators do not account for all factors that influence calorie needs (such as changes in metabolism). Therefore, check with your healthcare provider and/or Registered Dietitian for a customized estimate that can be revised to address any changes (e.g., weight gain, weight loss, increased activity).
The relationship between stress and weight is complicated, and we’re still learning about how they are connected. In general, we know that stress can:
• Increase levels of cortisol, which may lead to weight gain
• Cause lack of sleep, which may increase a hormone that makes you feel hungry
• Lead to overeating in response to stressful feelings
On the other hand, we know reducing stress can have a positive effect on weight and hunger. Therefore, we encourage folks to seek out stress management strategies and resources. Talk with your healthcare provider for guidance. Also, consider visiting our section on Mindful Eating for information on a healthy eating habit that may help you get started.
YES! Carbohydrates (or carbs) fuel your body and your brain. In fact, your brain prefers glucose, a type of carbohydrate, over other fuels. The source of the carbohydrates you eat is the more important question. Sticking to whole foods like fruits and veggies, whole grains (breads, crackers, and pastas), and dairy will give you the most nutrients per carb and give you enough energy to get through the day!
Not in general, but most of us may benefit from limiting added sugars in our diets. There are two types of sugars: naturally occurring and added sugars. Naturally occurring sugars are sugars found naturally in foods, such as lactose in milk, and glucose and fructose in fruits. These sugars are not cause for concern, particularly because they come in a package of beneficial nutrients (such as fiber) and are found in foods such as fruits and veggies, beans, and whole grains associated with good health.
Added sugars are any sugars added to foods or beverages during processing, preparation or at the table. Examples of added sugars include brown sugar, brown rice syrup, beet sugar, cane sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, maple syrup, and molasses.
Some people view certain added sugars, like honey and maple syrup, as better than others because they are from a natural source; however, there are no health advantages to these sugars. All added sugars—no matter their source—add “empty calories” which means they add calories without nutritional benefit. Eating foods with added sugars may squeeze out other nutrient-rich foods, train us to avoid foods that aren’t as sweet, and cause swings in blood sugar. Additionally, excessive added sugars have been associated with negative health effects such as increased risk for heart disease. This is why keeping added sugars to a minimum is beneficial for good health.
While your individual protein needs should be discussed with your healthcare provider or Registered Dietitian, most Americans get enough total protein. On average, we meet the daily recommendation to prevent protein deficiency.
However, it may be beneficial to consider distributing your protein intake more evenly throughout the day. Most of us tend to get the bulk of our protein at dinner, with less at lunch and very little at breakfast. Research suggests that our bodies can only process a certain amount of protein at a time, so having more in one sitting may not have the same effect as spreading it out over the course of the day. The sweet spot appears to be about 25-30 grams per meal.
No! There are minimal differences in the nutrient content among the three. Most Americans do not eat enough fruits and veggies which means missing out on the health benefits. It’s important to eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies each day, so pick whichever one fits in your budget and lifestyle.
Whichever one you will eat that fits your own needs and preferences! Health experts recommend eating at least two servings of fish per week to support health, because doing so is associated with health benefits. Because each type of seafood offers a unique nutritional profile, eat a variety of seafood you enjoy to get a mix of nutrients that support good health (such as omega-3 fats, zinc, protein). While all seafood is nutritious, potential contaminants and sustainability are two factors some folks consider when deciding which kind to choose.
We understand concerns over contaminants—such as heavy metals, industrial chemicals, and pesticides —can deter folks from eating fish. Although excessive exposure to these contaminants over time can have negative health effects, health experts believe that, for most people, the benefits of eating a variety of seafood outweigh the risks. More specific recommendations exist for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, women who are breastfeeding, and young children. Check out the FDA’s Advice about Eating Fish for more information.
When it comes to sustainability, choosing fish sourced in an environmentally friendly way is key. The Marine Stewardship Council defines sustainable fishing as leaving enough fish in the ocean, respecting habitats, and ensuring people who depend on fishing can maintain their livelihoods. Both wild-caught and farm-raised fish are healthy choices, and both can be sourced sustainably. For more information, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Consumer Guide.