So, for the busy folks I work with, I tell them the key to implementing healthy dietary changes is to think it through and make a plan. Planning smart is key to eating smart. If you make healthy choices available to you when you need them, chances are you will make better decisions.
I’ve listed a few tips that I apply to my life to hopefully help you develop you own “smart eating plan” so that you can start eating better and feeling better, too:
Plan for the week ahead – It sounds daunting, I know, but planning out your meals for the upcoming week will keep you on track with your health and wellness goals. Take an hour or two on the weekend to plan, and if possible, do all your grocery shopping in one trip (which will save you time too!). Get ready-chopped and pre-packaged veggies to use in your recipes or to have on hand snacks. Try one of the many salad assortments available for a quick and light dinner
Cook once eat twice (or more!) – This is one of my favorite tips to live by. When it comes to healthy eating, nothing beats home-cooked meals made from scratch. Having to scramble to make a meal every day is tough, and “Cook Once Eat Twice” can help you save time and headache. I will broil several chicken breasts to use for the next few days in salads, in soups or as a main dish with some veggie sides. I also cook a big batch of grains (brown rice, quinoa, etc.) and use them in different combinations.
Stock your fridge, pantry (and desk drawer at work) with healthy snacks – make sure you have some healthy snack alternatives handy so you don’t go for the vending machine which is usually stocked with less desirable options. I’m lucky to have a fridge at work, where I usually store fresh fruit, or hummus with veggies. If you are always on the go, a handful of nuts with dried fruit or an apple with nut butter (available in single-use packets) can be great pick-me-ups, too.
Just keep in mind that fresh whole food is always better than processed foods – there are many “bars” on the market with “health claims” – however, most of them contain high doses of sugar, additives or processed “food-like” products that are less than desirable. If you have to turn to packaged foods, always read the labels to make smart choices.
Instead of getting caught with nothing for dinner, stock a few healthy frozen options so you don’t dial the greasy pizza place. Make a point to pair frozen meals and fresh veggies (remember the pre-chopped purchases from the grocery store in my first tip?).
Alright, so this might not be a “perfect” fit for your schedule, but it is a huge step up from eating on impulse and making dinner decisions based on your well-worn-out brain tired from a hard days work. Having a plan is one step that sets you up for success. I challenge you to try the tips I’ve outlined. They really DO work! But don’t stop there! Experiment with creating your own healthy “short-cuts” to eating well. You might be surprised to see how resourceful you can actually be when you take responsibility for your own health.
Are there any tips I’ve missed that you have found to work for you? Leave a comment and let me know. I’m always up for learning new strategies for healthy living.
As always - Enjoy Your Life!
John Aaron Villarreal