5 Tips To Create Food Awareness

It’s dinner time, you’re driving home from work, and you are starving.


It’s Monday, so naturally, you’ve told yourself today is the day that you’re getting your life together and going to start changing habits and living a healthier lifestyle.

You decide to grab a quick healthy meal from your favorite restaurant or fast food joint, and as you scan the menu, you realize that you aren’t really sure what’s healthy. You decide on the salad because “Duh, salad is healthy”. When it arrives, it’s loaded with hard boiled eggs, nuts, bacon, dressing, chicken, and so much more. All of a sudden, what was supposed to be a healthy meal has turned into a 1,000 calories meal in the blink of an eye.

What you are lacking if real, long-term food awareness.

What is Food Awareness?

Have you ever really heard the term food awareness? I believe food awareness is at the heart of long-term nutrition success.  That definition of food awareness is the process of increasing your knowledge and understanding of what food is made up of and what purpose it serves for the body so you can make food decisions that support your goals.

Sound complicated?

It basically means what value the foods you eat to give you. What’s in them? What do they do for you? What are they made of? The more knowledge we have about them, the more powerful our choices can be, and in turn, we can make better decisions on the foods we use to fuel our bodies. It does take time to invest in the understanding of food awareness, but it’s so worth it!.


You don’t know what you don’t know

I learned a simple quote from my husband that is so applicable to food. He is a police officer is frequently thrown into unique situations where each workday is new.

He shares with me a quote they use in his unit often:

“You don’t know what you don’t know.”  

It is so relevant food too. How can you really understand all the excess ingredients and calories stuffed into foods if you don’t have a baseline level of knowledge to go from? How do you know what you’re putting into your body if you don’t know how your current eating habits are or what a nutrition label is?

I want to help you improve your food awareness by helping you practice a few simple steps that will help you gain knowledge and thus, increase your ability to make good choices. I’m going to share with you 5 easy tips that you can start implementing to increase your food awareness.


5 tips to create food awareness

1. Evaluate Your Current Eating Habits

To become food ware, you must first learn what you’re eating right now. There are so many different ways that you can evaluate your current eating habits.

A food journal like this one is a simple place to start.  You can list the foods you eat each day and then ask yourself a few questions, like:

  • How do I feel after I eat these foods?
  • Did I eat mostly whole foods, or processed foods?
  • Did I crave certain foods, or crave foods more than I normally do?


We all need to know where we are starting from, so we can gauge where we are going. By starting small, like writing in a food journal, we can understand what we are doing now so we can look back and see how the foods we ate affected us.

If you want to take it up a level, use an app! My favorite food app is My Fitness Pal. In the beginning, don’t worry about the numbers, just use it as a diary and record your foods. You can even make notes and comments in the app

This is really valuable information to have. As you begin to get more advanced you can then begin to look more specifically at the macronutrient values of food, including fiber and lots of other valuable info about the foods you are taking in.

2. Invest In Understanding Nutrition Labels

If you want to increase your food awareness, take the time to read and understand nutrition labels. When you go to the store, pick up the foods, and actually read the labels! The biggest place to start is the serving size. Nutrition labels can be tricky, and most of the time you can’t eat the whole box as a serving size. You may read the label and realize that the box contains 8 servings of the food inside.

Next,  read the ingredients! If you struggle to pronounce the ingredient list, it’s likely that those ingredients shouldn’t be put into your body anyways. That’s just too much “stuff” that’s not a necessity.  A great rule of thumb when selecting pre-packaged foods is to stick with something that has roughly a maximum of 8-10 ingredients listed that you are able to pronounce out loud.

Next, begin to familiarize yourself with macronutrients. How many carbs, protein, and fat does each serving size have? How much fiber? You can download my FREE Macro Basics guide HERE to understand more about what macronutrients are and why they are important to you.

At the end of the day, real food doesn’t have nutritional labels.  The awesome part is there are resources to better understand their values too.  My Fitness Pal has a huge database of food so you can learn what really is in an egg, cup of strawberries, or any of your favorite whole foods.  I also love Calorie King as a means of researching foods and also as a guide to what is in some of your favorites foods when dining out.

3. Get To Know Portion Sizes

Portion control is a major step toward food awareness.  When dining out, we are served HUGE portion sizes, and it’s so much more on our plates than we really need.

A basic step in portion control is learning use to use your hands as a guide.  To create a balanced plate, add a:

  • A handful of lean protein
  • A handful of carbs
  • Two handfuls of vegetables ( and maybe a bit of fruit)
  • A thumb full of healthy fat

No complicated measuring or tracking initially, just food awareness when it comes to portion sizing. It’s powerful because you carry your hands with you everywhere you go and using them as measurements show you what you a true portion should look like. You’ll come to realize that maybe you weren’t eating enough, or maybe you were eating a little too much at each meal.

It’s also important to familiarize yourself with texture and the purpose of foods. Foods that share similarities often fall into the same macronutrient category.  Think about fruit, like bananas and apples, and how they share the sweet characteristics. They’re all carbohydrates.

Nuts and seeds leave an oily feeling in the mouth and leave you well satiated.  They all belong to the same macronutrient category of fat. If you aren’t sure which foods fall into which macronutrient category, check out this link to my free real food list that helps you see the categories of macronutrients that foods fall into to help you select portions for your meals.

4. Realize That The Whole = The Sum Of The Parts

The next time you go out to eat, take your burger, burrito, or whatever you get and open it up. What’s inside the burrito? What’s underneath that hamburger bun? You may see the oils the ingredients were cooked in, the sauces, the fried onion rings. Those items can really up to the caloric value of whatever you’re eating.

If we deconstruct these meals, we can gain a better sense of what is truly in the food.  Ketchup, Chick fil a sauce, butter, etc all adds up when we don’t pay attention to what is really hidden inside. Once you become aware, you can make more informed choices, like asking for steamed veggies or the sauce on the side. That way, you’re increasing your food awareness, and YOU can control what you’re eating. In the end, knowledge is power.  When we make these choices consistently, they become a habit and that is where real change happens.

5. Evaluate Your Real Hunger

When was the last time you really listened to your body and the hunger cues it provided?

We are creatures of habit, so many of us are used to running from place to place and not paying attention to what our bodies are telling us they need. We eat fast, snack often and don’t ever truly slowing down and listening to what our bodies need.

Take a moment to stop and really get in tune with your body. These days, we aren’t listening to our hunger, but eating has just become a habit for us. Before you eat, feel it out. Are you truly hungry? Maybe you’re just thirsty, or bored, or eating just to eat. Increasing our food awareness also means increasing our trust with our bodies.

After you eat a serving of food, ask yourself “Am I content?”. Are you going back for seconds because that’s what you’ve always done? Have you created a habit of feeling like you need more because you’ve eaten so fast you haven’t really let the rest of your body catch up? Take this time and listen to your body and what it’s trying to tell you. You may be surprised that you’re full after just one serving of food.

At the end of the day, food awareness is a lifelong skill. All it takes is you investing time and looking at your day to day life so you can make simple changes. It doesn’t have to be complicated or hard. In fact, it’s really all about your mindset.  These small habits all compounded over time create a life rich in food awareness that will support your health and wellness goals.

What is one area of food awareness you still struggle with?


Work Hard Be Kind,


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