Any new practice takes an estimated 21 days to become a habit. When it comes to eating well, it's all about formulating a routine that sets you up for success. How do you do that? Follow these 10 tips to keep you and your family eating a balanced diet that keeps you energized all week long.
1. Plan ahead.
Spend some time planning your recipes for the week. Go through cookbooks and read blogs to find inspiration and then look for ways to make swaps to make a more indulgent dish more nutritious (i.e. coconut oil instead of butter). Once you've picked your meals and snacks for the week, sit down and make a shopping list -- going to the store with a detailed list will prevent impulse purchases.
2. Schedule a shopping day.
Pick one day of the week to head to the grocery store and/or farmer's market to get all your ingredients. Take your partner, a friend or your kids with you to help you get the work of gathering everything done faster -- this is also an opportunity to teach your kids about food.
3. Do all your prep at once.
Once you get back from the store, it can be easy to just throw everything you bought in the fridge or pantry until you need it, but that's also a way to forget about the foods you have. This leads to more waste. Take the time to cut fruits and vegetables, portion out proteins and clean greens to they're ready to use.
4. Invest in the right supplies.
Keeping a variety of storage containers on hand can help you keep your prepped foods fresh until you cook with them or separate snack foods into healthy portions. Glass mason jars, stainless steel and BPA-free plastic containers are all great options for storing food at home and on the go.
5. Pack your lunch in advance.
Whether done all on one day or before you head to bed, packing your lunch saves time in the morning and means you're less likely to opt for takeout. You can make a pot of stew or broil some fish and veggies in advance to divide into containers so they're easy to grab.
6. Start your day with greens.
Having more greens in your diet actually reduces your cravings for sugar. These foods are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber that keep you feeling full and your blood sugar stable so you don't feel the need to run for more sugar or caffeine.
7. Keep a food log.
When you're trying to watch what you eat, it can be helpful to log the foods and drinks you consume during the day to get a better idea of how much you're actually eating. Keeping a food journal can help you identify patterns as well. For example, if you notice you usually go for something sweet around 2 p.m., you can be sure to have a healthier snack option on hand.
8. Utilize your freezer.
Prepping meals for the freezer is another way to save valuable time later on. Bag proteins in marinade to freeze along with soups and fresh veggies so they don't spoil. The more storage you have, the more you can prep for an unexpectedly hectic week. This is also a way to stock up on produce when it's in season.
9. Keep a well-stocked pantry.
The expression "There's no food in this house" is why many of us turn to takeout meals. Make sure your pantry is stocked with a variety of whole grains, beans, lentils, spices, vinegars and oils so you can assemble meals more easily.
10. Have a cheat day.
It's important to cut yourself some slack and enjoy the foods you crave once a week so you can stay on track. Having a sensible portion of a food you love but shouldn't eat everyday will help you stop thinking about it everyday when you're trying to lose weight.
Try these strategies for weight loss success and let us know how they work. We'll be back tomorrow!