Most of us have enough stressors in our lives. Healthy eating shouldn't be yet another one, but unfortunately, for most of us it is.
Eating should make us feel energized, not overwhelmed and defeated
It has taken me years, but I have managed to gradually make healthy eating my "norm". At least 90 per cent of the time I don't have to stress over what choice to make. I naturally gravitate towards the healthier option. Believe me, I was not born craving healthy foods. As a teenager I absolutely loved cheese-filled pasta covered in cheese sauce and melted cheese, not to mention anything involving chocolate.
While I still love chocolate, I now see it as a special treat, and not something for daily consumption. As for the triple cheese pasta, I am now infinitely more satisfied by perfectly grilled chicken, a green salad with a sharp but light vinaigrette, and a pile of roasted fennel.
My habits and my tastes have evolved, and the central reason that happened was because I learned to set myself up for healthy eating success. Believe me, it has been a process.
How? First and foremost I learned how to PLAN my nutritional choices in advance.
You can can do it as well. Use the following guidelines to set yourself up for a life of non-stressful healthy eating.
1. Get your restaurant eating under control!
It can be SO hard to eat well at restaurants, but it is possible.
Look at the menu online so you can chose what you will eat in advance. Decide what you will eat at home so you make the decision with your brain instead of your hungry belly. When you arrive at the restaurant, you don't even need to look at the menu, just order your predetermined choice.
If the restaurant is known for big portions, split your main with someone, or ask the waiter to only serve half your meal and take the rest home.
Also, keep in mind that you can always order an appetizer as your main. Often that can be all you need.
If you decide to have a drink, great, but try to be moderate and drink water as well.
Skip the bread bowl.
2. Never let yourself make decisions about your food when you are starving!
Don't grocery shop, wander in a convenience store, run errands or go to a party when you are hungry. Always carry a healthy snack. An apple and a few almonds is my "go to" choice.
Carrying a snack will also help ensure you never have to suffer through the internal "is it better to starve or buy an unhealthy snack" debate.
3. Have food prepped in advance.
I am not sure about you, but I am often hungry when I get home, especially if I have just worked out, and I make bad nutritional choices when I am hungry. I just want something - anything - fast.
The solution? Have easy to assemble healthy foods already prepped and waiting so you can make up a healthy meal as quickly as you can microwave pizza.
On sunday make a big batch of a healthy soup or chili, cut lots of vegetables, grill chicken, cook some quinoa and beans and / or wash spinach or kale. That way you can create a healthy salad or quinoa bowl in minutes.
#4. Have healthy "grab and go" breakfast options prepped so you have no excuse to skip the meal!
The "I don't have time for breakfast" excuse is one of my personal pet peeves. Everyone has time for breakfast, you just need to plan ahead. Hard boil a bunch of eggs. Then grab one of them plus a few cut of vegetables for a healthy meal in literally seconds. Make a smoothie the night before. Then drink it as you leave the house. Leave apples and unsalted nuts at work, or better yet, if you have a fridge at work leave some yogurt or almond milk at work and mix in some Chia seeds and a banana for a fast and fibre-filled meal.
Or, make six or ten mini "egg muffins" every Sunday and eat them through the week. Sauté a bunch vegetables then place them into separate muffin tins. Mix a bunch of eggs and pour roughly half an egg into each cup. Cook muffins in the oven then viola, a healthy breakfast you can grab as you walk out the door. When you have an extra minute enjoy the "muffin" with some avocado or a piece of whole grain bread.
The main take-away is "preparation, preparation preparation". Healthy eating doesn't take a huge time commitment, but it does take advance planning and mindfulness!
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