Do you want to make sure you’re maintaining healthy eating habits? Ask yourself these questions when eating to make sure you stay on track.

Am I actually hungry? Are you hungry because it’s time to fuel your body with the energy to carry out your daily activities, or do you just think you’re hungry as a result of convenience, stress or boredom? These are only a couple of the factors that can interfere with our ability to know when we are truly hungry. By being aware of these factors, you can determine whether eating is necessary or just something you’re doing mindlessly. You can avoid extra calories that lead to unwanted weight gain by making sure it’s actually time to dig in.

Am I overeating? It’s important to not only consider what you’re eating, but also how much you’re eating. Even if you are making healthier choices, you may also be eating too much. By being aware of portion sizes you can keep your eating in check throughout the day. When it comes to foods in packages, boxes or bags make sure you are aware of the serving size on the nutrition label. These items may contain a lot of unnecessary salt, added sugars and saturated fat.

General portion suggestions:

• 1 cup = Size of fist

• 1 tablespoon = Tip of thumb (knuckle to tip)

• 1 teaspoon = Fingertip

• ½ cup = Front of clenched fist

Am I choosing the healthiest option? We aren’t always able to choose what we’re eating for snacks and meals due to activities and personal commitments. Sometimes, a burger at the tailgate is the only option. In these situations, we still want to be able to make good choices for ourselves. Instead of skipping meals altogether, try to make it a healthier option by limiting portion size or opting for vegetable toppings instead of cheese and mayo. By doing this, you may not be eating a perfectly healthy meal, but you can guarantee that you’ve made the best choice possible.

Am I enjoying this food? Food should not only nourish the body, but also be satisfying to the palate. While fueling our bodies is important, we also want to make sure we are eating foods that taste good so we are personally satisfied with eating. While we have to be careful of what we are eating, it should also be a goal to incorporate your favorite foods for variety.

Want to learn more about healthy eating habits? Visit www.choosemyplate.gov for more information.

Chelsie Howe, MS, CHES is a Wellness Coach at UnityPoint Health – Trinity.

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