Along with a lot of other growing pains into adulthood, my health/eating habits was an area of my life I had to adapt into taking responsibility. And to be honest, it was sort of fun and enlightening. There were several “a-ha” moments in learning to lose, then maintain my weight, and choosing good food options over seemingly-good options (there are a lot of fake-healthy food options).
Millennials are learning to manage many areas of life like finances, relationships, professional goals, and healthy food intake deserves as much examination. Here are some of the main areas I focus on in maintaining good food habits:
Watch the Sugar! It’s everywhere in your food. And it turns out it’s not a sweet grandma-type in charge of the food industry sprinkling a spoonful of sugar into your food innocently trying to fatten you up. No, it turns out sugar is addictive, and therefore quite lucrative.
If you’re an average American that lives a healthy lifestyle, you don’t have too many calories to spend on added sugar. The AHA advises that women consume no more than 100 calories from added sugar per day. Men can have slightly more: 150 calories. This translates into an upper daily limit of 25 and 37.5 grams (6 and 9 tsp.) of added sugar for men and women, respectively. One 12-oz. can of regular soda pop contains 8 tsp. of added sugar. LiveStrong.com
Since learning more about health, sugar-consumption is the biggest area I monitor in my food intake. Even just being aware of how much sugar you’re consuming is a big step. I go with the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time (daily consumption) is very low on sugar. But I allow splurges once in a while (the other 20%). For example, I did have a giant ice cream sundae for my birthday last week.
Cook your own food. One way to know exactly what’s in your food is to make it yourself! Millennials were raised to be superstars, but reached adulthood with a lot of disappointment. We’re saddled with debt, unemployed, and realize, well, we’re not that special! It’s like we were told “You can be anything you want to be!!— just kidding, maybe you will have a job if you’re lucky.” Because of the uncertainty this generation is currently facing, I think milleninals want the straight-up truth. No spin, no additives, or hidden fine print. And I take this same philosophy to my cooking. I like to know what’s in my food, and know that what’s in it is good.
For example, I made cookies the other day. The ingredients: unsweetened applesauce, bananas, oatmeal, raisins, and cinnamon. Nothing taste better than the honest truth. It’s nice to have a bit of control over something, when millennials live in a world that seems so out of balance.
Variety. Luckily Millennials have a very diverse taste palette. Eating “clean,” or even just healthy sounds boring. And honestly it can be, but definitely doesn’t have to. If you’re bored with your meals, start combining different vegetables, fruits, spices, grains, and seeds.
Case in point: Breakfast this morning was steal cut oats (Coach’s Oats) with bulgar, sliced banana, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, golden raisins, craisins, and topped with a bit of cinnamon and honey. It was good! Keep it interesting and you’ll be better at sticking with nutritious options.
As you’re starting to take responsibility for all kinds of areas of life starting in your twenties, I recommend to take a look at your health habits. As Meg Jay puts it “30 is not the new 20,” and your twenties are the perfect time to form lifelong habits. Don’t let your health take a back-burner in adapting to adulthood. It’s worth your effort!
Have your eating habits changed for the better since you’ve graduated from high school, or been out on your own?
And for fun, here are a few kitchen appliances and food gadgets I’ve added over the last few years:
(No, I don’t watch QVC, why do you ask?)