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If your partner is a first responder, they may work some night shifts. If you work a more standard week, this means you probably eat lots of meals on your own.
When you’re eating alone, it’s tempting to simply reach for whatever’s on hand, whether it’s good for you or not. If you’re finding yourself doing this a lot, it can create real risks to your health.
While your partner needs to eat well to get through their shifts, it’s also important to take care of yourself.
Eating well benefits your physical and mental health, and reduces your risk of developing a range of health problems from heart disease to depression.
Let’s take a look at how you can create healthy habits when you regularly eat alone.
People who often eat alone tend to have unhealthier eating habits than those who eat with their partner, family or friends.
It’s true that it can be hard to feel motivated to cook when you’re eating alone.
This lack of motivation can have you reaching for the ready-made or simple meals that lack the nutrients you need. That can be okay occasionally, but if it’s become a habit, then this can cause some health concerns.
If you’ve fallen into some unhealthy eating habits while your partner is on shift, don’t be hard on yourself. Instead, turn your focus to implementing some healthy changes.
A healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh food can help to lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers, as well as being helpful in managing healthy cholesterol levels and weight.
Eating well can also reduce your risk of developing depression and can help to ease anxiety.
When one of you cooks a healthy meal, it can then be eaten by the other at a time that suits your schedule.
Cook larger amounts than you need, and put some in the freezer. When you’re feeling unmotivated or you’re busy, you can reach for something that’s both healthy and easy.
Set up a regular time to eat with friends. Social support is important, and eating with others is the perfect way to connect with the people you like.
Communicating with your partner is important for a happy relationship, so try keeping a list of which meals are planned during the week, and who will cook each of them.
A healthy diet is a team effort, and that support helps you both stick to healthy eating guidelines.
While it might not be your choice, try to find some pleasure in eating alone at times. A regular ‘date’ with yourself might encourage you to cook yourself something special that nurtures your health.
It’s common for people who eat alone to not consume enough vegetables, and this can cause many health problems.
So, if you’re keen to eat a more healthy diet, this is a great place to start.
Experts recommend eating at least five serves of vegetables each day.
A serving size is half a cup of cooked vegetables, or one cup of raw vegetables.
When you eat more vegetables, you’re less likely to crave foods that contain processed sugar.
Try eating a rainbow of vegetables and fruits each day. Every colour has its own unique health benefits, so eating some of each will help you get the nutrients you need.
Just like mindfulness is about being in the present moment, mindful eating encourages you to pay attention to only your food as you eat.
Why? Well, it’s easy to seek distractions when you’re eating alone, making it more likely that you’ll eat larger portion sizes and make unhealthy food choices.
Mindful eating can help you make healthy food choices, as well as making eating your meal a more pleasurable experience.
Notice the colours, smells, flavours and textures of your food before you eat and while you’re consuming it.
Don’t eat in front of a screen, like the TV or a device.
Set a timer for 20 minutes, and take that whole time to eat your meal.
If you’re tempted to add more food to your plate, stop and ask yourself if you’re really hungry.
Let go of any judgement you have about your eating habits, so you can be open to making different choices.