By Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE. Updated by dLife Editors 10/24/19.
In the course of seeing patients with diabetes over the past 15 years, I’ve observed patterns of behavior that make a person a healthy eater or an unhealthy eater.
So, check out the lists below and see what behaviors you need to nix or add. Now is a great time to start since the holidays can be the most challenging time of year for healthy eating. What changes do you need to make today?
Habits of Healthy Eaters
- Grocery shop weekly
Healthy eating starts with having healthy food in the house. Plan a trip to the grocery store weekly and stock up. Check out this downloadable grocery list for suggestions.
- Plan meals and pack lunches
Taking your lunch to work at least a couple days per week will lead to healthier eating and it’s much easier for those who are carbohydrate counting too. Planning meals and grocery shopping go hand in hand, so this can be the first step toward healthy eating.
- Cook at home majority of the time
Eat most of your meals at home. This does not mean you have to cook gourmet meals every night, but even making a large pot of turkey chili or making a quick batch of black bean quesadillas will probably be a
healthier option than eating out.
- Eat fruits and vegetables
Bottom line – people who eat healthily eat more fruits and vegetables and less “junk snack food.” Try to constantly think of ways to eat more veggies at lunch and dinner. Whether it be a salad, veggies, and hummus, extra cucumber and tomatoes on your sandwich or a stir-fry at dinner – eating more veggies helps control blood glucose levels and helps fill you up.
- Eat 3 meals per day
Healthier eaters do not skip meals! This leads to better blood sugar control and less overeating at dinner.
- Eat 3 food groups per meal
Healthy eaters eat a variety of foods at a meal, so they usually aim for 3 food groups at a meal. An example could be a dinner with salmon, quinoa and green beans for a total of 3 foods groups.
- Drink lots of water
Healthy eaters are drinking more water and less soda or other drinks.
- Get “back on track” if you ever overdo it
Healthy eaters are not perfect eaters! But if they do overdo it, they tend to get back on track quickly.
- Willing to try new foods
Healthy eaters do not say things like, “I don’t like any fruit or vegetables.” They are willing to try new foods and see if they like it before forming a decision.
Habits of Non-Healthy Eaters
- Eat out more than 3 times per week
Unhealthy eaters tend to eat at a lot of meals at restaurants for lunch, dinner and sometimes breakfast.
- Go to Fast Food Restaurants weekly
Fast food restaurants are commonplace for unhealthy eaters.
- Eat a lot of processed or packaged food
Unhealthy eaters consume a lot of processed foods such as chips, cookies, or sometimes large portion sizes of packaged “healthier” food options, such as popcorn, cereal, crackers or pretzels.
- Skip meals
Unhealthy eaters do not eat regular meals at regular times.
- Eat fried foods weekly
Fried foods are commonly eaten among unhealthy eaters, whether it is fried chicken, French fries, or potato chips.
- Drink sweetened drinks
Regular soda, lemonade, juice, or sweetened ice tea make the list of drinks for unhealthy eaters.
- Drink large amounts of diet soda or coffee
Not everyone that drinks diet soda or coffee is an unhealthy eater, but when people are drinking these things in excess, it becomes a problem. For example, drinking a pot of coffee or more than 3 diet sodas per day usually takes the place of how much water a person is drinking.
- Snack a lot after dinner
Some unhealthy eaters do well during the day and then really overdo the snacking in the evening time. This could be due to boredom, stress relief, emotional eating, or not eating enough during the day.
- Make excuses for why they can’t eat healthily
Unhealthy eaters tend to have many excuses for why they don’t eat healthily. The bottom line is — if they want to make healthy eating a priority there will be no more excuses.
Do you want to make a change in your eating habits? Set up a meeting with a Registered Dietitian today.
NOTE: This information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.