If you’re like most people, you really do want to eat better. You know how important good nutrition and clean eating are to your health, fitness, and longevity. But when it comes time to create the new healthy eating habits, it just seems overwhelming, doesn’t it? Clean eating, Paleo, Keto, vegan, Mediterranean…there are so many diets and so much conflicting information, it sometimes feels easier to just do what you’ve always done: Stick with your usual habits, recipes, and of course, take out.
When it comes to eating, convenience often wins.
Yet there are time-saving techniques all of us can use to eat a little—or a lot—healthier. These simple tools can help you reach your fitness and weight-management goals rather than default to the status quo—all without giving up the joy of eating.
3 Healthy Eating Hacks
1. Eat the Same Foods
This idea seems so contradictory considering how much we hear about the importance of variety, but it’s a great way to combat feeling overwhelmed and to ensure we’re eating plenty of healthy, nutritious foods every single day. In a study published in the journal Obesity, researchers examining data from the National Weight Control Registry found that people who are most successful in dropping weight and keeping it off “consume a diet with very little variety.” They concluded that limiting dietary variety may help maintain long-term weight loss.
Here’s how I do it.
Every quarter, I sit down with my family, and we plan our meals for the next few months. Many of the meals repeat; for example, breakfast is nearly always a BioTrust® Low Carb smoothie with whatever low-sugar fruit is in-season. And every week, we enjoy taco salad Tuesday and bison burger Friday because these are two of my family’s favorite meals (and they’re super-fast, easy, and packed with nutrition).
We choose only recipes that are simple, delicious, and healthy. Each quarter, I choose recipes that make the most of seasonal produce, and every month for that quarter, I simply repeat the exact same recipes. Based on our meal plan, I create a grocery list for each week. After all, you can only eat healthy if you have nutritious foods on hand. I just print out the weekly grocery list with a list of our meals for each day, and I’m done.
I don’t have to dig through new recipes every week, and I know my family is going to love what’s on the menu. This one healthy eating technique ends up saving me at least four hours every month! Finally, because I rotate menus throughout the year and the month, there’s enough variety to keep our taste buds happy, and I know we’re all getting top-quality nutrition by eating with the seasons.
2. In sight, top of mind
One thing virtually every nutritionist agrees on is that we all need to eat more fruits and vegetables. But it’s so difficult, isn’t it?
Here’s a quick tip I learned from one of my good friends, who was never challenged to get her kids to eat healthy. (Really!) Most people wondered how she did it, yet even a brief visit to her kitchen made it obvious.
First, she made sure healthy foods were always available, within sight, and easy to reach for all her kids, as well as herself and her husband. Every week, she would take a trip to the local farmers’ market and buy her family’s favorite vegetables and fruits. (A CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture group, works well too.) She and her family would wash the vegetables and get them prepared to snack on as soon as they got home. When you opened the fridge, the first thing you’d see was a beautiful, colorful bowl of ready-to-eat vegetables on the bottom shelf—within easy reach of even her youngest child.
Bonus Healthy Eating Hack:
She also had an amazing three-tiered fruit bowl that was bursting with fresh, juicy, and enticing fruits. It was difficult to resist the rainbow of fresh, wholesome food. Despite what you might think, she once told me that rather than any of the fresh produce going bad, with three active sons, it was difficult to keep enough on hand.
IF—and that’s a big IF—she did have packaged foods, they remained on a top shelf in the back of the pantry: Out of sight, out of reach, and out of mind. As a very busy environmental engineer, she insisted this was how she kept healthy eating both sane and stress-free for her family.
Cornell researcher Dr. Brian Wansink would likely agree with this method; he suggests the real secret to healthy eating isn’t about willpower but rather what he refers to as the “CAN” approach. That is, keeping healthy foods Convenient, Attractive, and Normal.
3. Slow down!
This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about slowing down and eating mindfully, and it surely won’t be the last. This is some of the absolute most important, most effective nutritional advice around.
With the amount of distractions and obligations we’re all faced with on a day-to-day basis, it sometimes feels as if the only time to eat is at the desk, in the car, or while running through the house searching frantically for that lost report, homework, or shoe.
This is a significant detriment to you and your health, fitness, and weight-loss goals. Research from several studies has shown that simply by eating more slowly, you’ll consume fewer calories. Enough, in fact, to drop up to 10 pounds in a year with no other changes. What’s more, slow eating improves digestion, and it’s a tool you can use anytime and anywhere, regardless of what’s on your plate.
The research has stacked up showing us that multitasking makes us less efficient and effective at virtually every task, and eating is no exception.
Healthy eating isn’t always easy, but by incorporating the above strategies into your daily, weekly, and monthly habits, you’ll ultimately be able to save time and combat feeling overwhelmed as you eat healthier and get that much closer to accomplishing your fitness and weight-loss goals.
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