Since my neighborhood is celebrating flowers this week, I thought I’d join the party!
It sounds overwhelming and vague whenever you hear the well-known phrase: Fad diets are not the answer to lose extra body weight, a healthier lifestyle is. Nevertheless, it is true, diets provide only short-term solutions and could have serious side effects on your health and a healthier lifestyle is the ultimate long-term solution to a healthier weight. In theory, this is a simple notion, yet we find it difficult to put into practice. Because old habits die hard, figuring out how to change our eating habits into healthier sustainable ones can be challenging. The key to an efficient and smooth transition is to take things slowly and simply, one step at a time.
I recently came across a new study about healthy eating conducted by Cornell University and found it really interesting to share with you all as I thought it suggests brilliant yet simple and practical ways to healthier eating. After analyzing 112 studies that collected information about healthy eating behaviors, the study suggests using what they called the C.A.N. approach to achieve a healthier weight. The CAN approach highlights 3 important principals that focus on designing an environment that makes healthy eating simple by making healthier foods easiest to choose and consume. Hence, to get to eat healthier, healthier food must be:
1- Convenient (visible and easy to reach)
2- Attractive (enticingly displayed)
3- Normal (appear like an obvious choice)
For instance, placing a fruit bowl in a convenient place, where people walk by it, make it more accessible hence more convenient rather than storing the fruits in the back of a drawer in the refrigerator where they are out of sight and out of mind. Fruits assembled in a nice bowl are more attractive than fruits stored in a plastic bag or a drawer in the fridge. Making fruits easily accessible, appealing and part of your daily environment will gradually instill them into your daily routine and create healthy long-term dietary habits. Before you know it fruits will become a more popular choice in your household than cookies!
Here are some CAN inspired ideas to get you started:
- Use canned and frozen fruits and veggies for more convenience. Like canned beans and frozen greens
- If you still prefer fresh, opt for pre-packed pre-cut fruits and veggies for added convenience and accessibility like baby carrots, celery sticks and cucumber slices
- Have single-servings of various proteins in:
- the refrigerator (e.g. hard-boiled eggs, string cheese or bite-size cheese, or single-servings Greek yogurt); or
- the pantry (e.g. packs of trail mix or raisins)
- Buy a better brand of apples or yogurt that you will be more incentivized to eat (vs. let it perish in the fridge!)
- Make appealing well-organized colorful veggie platters (tomato, celery, cucumber, carrots, cauliflower) and place them somewhere easy to grab like the coffee table in the sitting room (that could also be an interesting alternative to a flower arrangement for a change!)
It’s all about manipulating your environment to normalize and favor healthy choices at home or even in your office. As for the less-healthy food options, the CAN approach works in reverse: make them less convenient, less attractive and less normal. Although I think a swift shift to this lifestyle is best, you can take baby steps, for example move that Hershey Kisses bowl just 6 feet away from your desk and you will eat, on average, about 125 fewer calories every workday!
Oh and remember… Yes you C.A.N.
My New York loyalty, French education and Mediterranean pride, as well as a very busy summer move-logistics schedule upon my arrival to London almost a year ago, made me quite resistant to an instant British infatuation… Initially, I didn’t find that there was anything particularly unique or novel that I had not enjoyed or experienced in a prior place I lived in or travel to… but what I didn’t realize is that London had a lot of what I actually loved or enjoyed in one place and mixed in a harmonious way that made me feel increasingly at home. I gradually realized that London is brilliant in how it seamlessly mixes between the urban feel of a major city and a quaint calm village-y vibe in certain parts – all within minutes of each other. As the sun made its way back to this island and as I started to increasingly trust my nanny, I had the chance to discover more hidden gems both in my neighborhood / Chelsea (which offers lovely birds singing in the morning, cherry blossom filled streets, Camelias, a crazy squirrel that hangs on the edge of my garden’s tree branches and amazing “bespoke” shopping…) and beyond. This past bank holiday weekend was particularly inspiring, as I had the chance to enjoy a lovely tea time with friends in Mayfair, explored the Wallace Collection and the icing of this culinary and visual treat was spending a day in Cliveden – a gorgeous estate at Taplow, Berkshire set near the River Thames, which includes a mansion that was previously home to an earl, three countesses, two dukes, a Prince of Wales and the Viscounts Astor! Cliveden was described in a journal entry by Queen Victoria with the following spot-on words: “it’s a perfection of a place,…the view is so beautiful”. Thanks to a Relais & Châteaux hotel now operating the mansion and the National Trust’s amazing work maintaining the estate, one can truly relive this estate’s prior glory and create a fairytale getaway just 40 minutes from south west London! My daughter kept on asking me if a princess actually lives in the mansion and at one point an employee of the estate overheard her and came up and told us that the latest Cinderella movie was filmed in part on the estate! However it was only when he pointed to the clock and confirmed that it was the clock used in Cinderella that he truly succeeded in capturing both her (and my!) imagination… each hour the clock bells rang to signal the time, my daughter’s eyes would open widely and a smile would instantly appear on her face as she relished in her British Cinderella moment… a magical moment that caught me off guard every single time and filled me with an instant rush of childhood dreams and motherly joy…
I think my ballerinas have found their car!
P.S. When I asked my editor (i.e. my 3 year old daughter 😜) what she thought of the photo, she said: “Mais où est donc ta tête maman?!” eng. “But where has your head gone mommy?!” Not sure if she meant that literary or metaphorically! 😳
#LaVéritéSortDeLaBoucheDesEnfants #DontTakeLifeTooSeriously 😂
UPDATED (by popular demand): here’s the front! 👅👅
Coming back to the routine can be tough after an exciting and eventful vacation but I’ve learned through the years to appreciate returning to the order and predictability of my routine and particularly now that I have two kids, the routine’s structure makes it easier to manage them (as they inevitably get spoiled and lose good habits due to gifts and treats here and there by friends and relatives… one of my main concern was their eating and sleeping schedule which was, despite my best efforts, a bit chaotic during the vacation as I could not control relatives insisting to spend more time with them or giving them this or that treat!) The transition back though is inevitably though as you have to deal with the unpacking, cleaning and the very early morning run to the grocery store to get your daughter breakfast before her first day of school and then convincing her that she has to now go back to school! Ultimately however there’s a time when you feel that the wheels are in motion again, and precisely then you should look for a calm moment and take a small celebratory / reflective tea break! In any event I think that small daily rituals like a tea break make a hectic routine much more bearable so make sure to carve out some time for yourself on any day!