The Secret to Staying Healthy
Posted by Natalie Simone
Healthy eating can be very daunting for many people who didn’t grow up learning those habits. Nowadays, there is so much information on food, exercise and how those things impact your health and the science around it that hopefully healthy habits will start to be easier for next generations. But for those of us who did not have these ingrained in us from the start I’m going to give you the one secret to making it manageable and a few tips on how to execute it!
Ok…ready for the big secret?! … P-L-A-N. P-L-A-N. Let me say that again… plan! That’s right – that’s it. Healthy eating and healthy habits are much easier to achieve when you have a plan around making them happen. It is a fact. A saying that has always stuck with me is, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” (side bar – this was originally a quote by Benjamin Franklin believe it or not!) Think about that for a minute. If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. It is so true. If you don’t have a gym/workout routine…you probably don’t go. You don’t plan to go to that spin class then you don’t go.
WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE A PLAN
Think about the days that you are so busy with work, kids or whatever it is that time sucks your day – you don’t have a breakfast thought out, you didn’t make a lunch to bring with you and didn’t defrost any chicken for dinner. So here is how your day goes: wake up, and because you didn’t plan that protein smoothie out or have hard-boiled eggs ready to grab, you eat your kid’s cereal (or you have no kids and have no good excuse to have sugary cereal in your pantry, like myself) because it’s quick and easy. Then you’re out the door! Now it’s 10:30am and you’re stomach is growling and of course you don’t have a snack, such as a banana or any raw fruit or vegetables, so you eat something out of the vending machine. Then lunch rolls around and you attempt something healthy let’s assume because maybe you can go out a grab a salad or maybe you’re so busy and go to a fast food restaurant instead. After you’re hard day of work, you come home and realize all your meat is frozen. You can’t defrost it quickly enough because you’re hungry! So you can either order out…pizza probably… or make pasta, which is never whole grain in my house! While pasta can be a healthful choice, in this situation it won’t be, because there won’t be veggies mixed in etc. It will be pasta and butter with salt, pepper and parmesan cheese.
With some simple, thoughtful decisions made and executed over the weekend you can have a week full have healthful meals, which in turn make you a happy, healthy person all around! When you eat right you are more likely to exercise, sleep better, your mood will improved, your skin glows etc. there are so many positives. So how do I plan? Here are some ideas for what to buy when you’re at the grocery store and what to do over the weekend to make sure you have healthy options during the week.
- Breakfast – Everyone is different. Some people eat a big breakfast and there are others who can’t stomach even the thought of an egg this early in the morning. So do what works for you but make sure you start your day with breakfast. It is the single more important meal of the day. We know this to be fact!
- For smoothies grab – depending on the season I always find the fresh fruits are the cheaper way to go and I freeze them at home. Grab what you like, for me it is blueberries, strawberries and bananas. Get a few things of low-fat, low-sugar greek yogurts that are flavored, low-fat milk or almond milk and your favorite vanilla lean protein powder. Keep the bananas out on the counter because they can double as a snack but when they start to turn just remove the skin and put them in a food storage bag and freeze them for smoothies.
- For the egg types – an omelet and scrambled eggs are an easy breakfast. Make sure to have some whole wheat toast to get some grains in the morning as well!
- Snacks – Yes, breakfast is the most important meal but SNACKS are the most important tool, period. Eating smaller meals throughout the day is the best way to stay fueled all day and prevent every getting … HANGRY (hungry=angry), which let’s be honest it’s a real thing.
- Fruits: clementines or tangerines are awesome little snacks, individual applesauce (look at the ingredients you don’t want a flavor with tons of added sugar, this may surprise you), extra bananas,
- Nuts: almonds or walnuts and pistachio single packs are some of my favorites
- Eggs: this time hard boiled. Pick up a dozen eggs and hard boil all (or half if you plan to eat them for breakfast) on the weekend. Keep them in your refrigerator for a quick grab and go snack at any time.
- Veggies: carrot sticks or carrot chips, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and snap peas are all easy finger foods. I like to buy tatziki sauce and bring some of that with me to work to dip my veggies in. Frozen edamame is also awesome. You can make this quickly in a microwave and eat them at your desk!
- Lunch – This can be a tough one for me because I do not do well with leftovers. So I have to great creative.
- Pasta: this is a good time to have a pasta dish filled with roasted or sautéed veggies because you still have half the day to burn off those calories! This would be something I either did make for dinner the night before or I’ll make it on Sunday and portion it out for lunch.
- Homemade soups: super easy to make on a Sunday afternoon and freeze them in individual portioned tuppleware. You can grab them in the morning and heat it up at lunch time.
- The grilled chicken pita/wrap: one of my biggest plan ahead lunch tricks. Buy chicken breast, red onions and a bag of mini red/yellow peppers from the grocery store. Then I switch between pita bread and tortillas and also grab your favorite cheese. When you get home, take the chicken, onions and peppers – season them with olive oil, salt and pepper and place them on the grill. Be sure to grill the chicken until cooked through and I like my onions almost translucent and the peppers charred. Once cool, slice up all the ingredients. Put the chicken in on tuppleware and onions/peppers in another. When I’m packing my lunch I put the pita/tortilla in plastic wrap and put a few pieces of the grilled chicken and some onion, peppers and cheese in a food storage bag. This way I can build my lunch at work and prevent any sogginess from happening, which can RUIN any good lunch.
- Dinner – The trick to planning dinner is actually sitting down and thinking through what you will make for the week ahead of you. It can take 15 minutes. Grab your computer and hit our Skinny On Low Cal Pinterest Boards and browse some of our delicious, low-cal recipes. We have everything from Salads for all Seasons, to Soups, which can serve you double (see lunch section above) and plenty more satisfying options!
Just remember what good ol’ Ben Franklin said – “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”