Eating healthier throughout the day can be tricky, daunting or something that seems impossible to achieve. Eating clean isn’t an all or nothing approach and choosing that path can be more challenging. Taking smaller steps can help break the changes down into smaller goals. If you eliminate all your bad eating habits and favorite comfort foods overnight that can lead to yo-yo dieting or falling off the wagon. Moderation and balance are key to build a strong foundation. Common sense is also in play here. Look or think about what is in the food you have been eating. From the cheeseburger buns, meat, or cheese or the prepackaged foods you bought from a gas station. Everything has been processed in a factory and made in a laboratory. By thinking about what we eat and making wiser decisions and deciding if this food is clean, whole and has any actual nutrients in it we are making a good first step. Now if you turn your whole world upside down than great but if you start with easy, simple steps and still enjoy some of your favorites in moderation than you are setting yourself up for a smooth, successful transition. This post lays out some switches for meals during your day, tips to find new ideas, and ways to enjoy good, clean, healthy food.
First we struggle, then we survive, and then we see the lights.
At first you may struggle to find your way but that is normal. I can tell you from personal experience that I still like crispy fries, donuts and pizza. I found new recipes to make these foods but with cauliflower as pizza crust or baked sweet potato fries with no ketchup or ranch to dip into. You may find out that you enjoy healthy food more that you would’ve imagined. Plus its easy to find new recipes by typing in a few ingredients and then choose what sounds good. If you don’t have all the ingredients then use whatever veggies, beans, or seasonings and fill in the blanks. It could taste even better your way so throw caution to the wind and find your inner cook. It’s truly not complicated to throw a few ingredients together and sooner than later you’ll be on your cooking way. We are only going to help you discover ways to incorporate better decisions during the day. We aren’t even talking about counting calories here, exercising or the healthiest cooking method although these are each very helpful.
We know that everybody likes to eat salty, sugary and fatty foods because its built into our DNA but remember if you can’t pronounce words on the food’s label than that is bad sign. Do you really want to eat pink slime, sodium benzoate, or propylene glycol? If you realized what was actually in these foods and thought about it maybe you would think twice. By educating yourself you’re setting the table for a win win situation. When beginning you should ease in and try not to be afraid to replace what you’ve been eating with cleaner and wiser food choices. Your body, mind, and family will thank you when you become a healthier version of yourself. So take that first step, be open-minded, and learn to love veggies, fruits, beans and peas, nuts and those glorious greens. Follow these ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks to help get you on the right track.
Start your day of right with a fast break for a healthy breakfast.
Follow these tidbits and you’ll be well on your way to a good start for the day. Remember to not skip this meal because its time to break your overnight fasting. At first you can start easy with some smoothies or oatmeal for breakfast. Just throw frozen fruit or fresh, almond milk, yogurt, and whatever else than crank up the blender. The varieties are endless. With the oatmeal I blend old-fashioned until it’s a finer powder then throw in some cinnamon or honey. You can also eat eggs still in my opinion. Although, I usually take out the majority of yolks. Plus there are plenty of healthy egg casseroles with veggies that you can kick up the sizzle factor and make them your own. I would also recommend some homemade breakfast bars made from nuts, seeds, dried fruits, chia seeds, flax-seed, and anything else you want. This mix can be sprinkled on salads, oatmeal, or hardened and cut into bars that can be snacked on at any time.
With these few ideas above should show you the light and so on. And if you’re like me, you’ll never have a problem eating the same thing for lunch or breakfast everyday but dinner is a different story entirely. For breakfast I mix it up for sure and always splurge a little on the weekend. I encourage you to find your go to meal that you can prepare in the dark with your eyes closed. As an added tip, breakfast meats should be a special treat once in a while not bacon everyday. While coffee and tea are fine for breakfast but adding extra sugar to them is where things go sideways on a health level. And if your going to skip something than skip grabbing breakfast on the way to work, school or anywhere in your car because there aren’t too many good choices.
The low down on the landmine lunch trap.
When I first began my health push I would make a sandwich for lunch but meat and breads are heavily processed. They are two of the most processed foods there is but it didn’t stop there because I would always have my cheese and mayo. Eating deli meat and bread can be okay in moderation or when making healthier choices. It may seem impossible to feed yourself without your standard fare and lunch can be a landmine field full of booby traps if you’re not careful. You’ve got your lunch buddies, potlucks, parties, pizza days, and the list goes on. All the bad places are right there for you to veer off course. But there are ways to detour your normal routine.
Start with premixed salad bags and some homemade dressing for lunch. You can find new ingredients to mix in and have constant change. You may even use large canning jars to take to work just layer them by separating dry and wet ingredients then shake them up. Grab a piece of fruit, nuts, cottage cheese or some yogurt to snack on throughout your day. Or eating some of your homemade bars can give you that energy burst. If you want the sandwich then choose a wrap or pita and less cheese if any. You can try it with avocado, tuna, and healthier meats from the deli like turkey. Try almond butter instead of peanut butter, whole wheat bread instead of white and a healthier jam if you’re a PBJ person. If you and your buddy always go to lunch then you can still go but make wise choices and I’m sure they’ll understand if you decline. If you quit smoking they would be supportive. So just bring those dinner leftovers, homemade soups, quick salads and healthier sandwiches and I’m sure your other buds or taste buds will not mind.
Dinner is time to let your creative side shine.
Dinner can be hard with conflicting schedules and a busy life with work, after school events, and everything else you have to do everyday. Trying to find time to buy the groceries, make the food, and get everyone on the same page can be an overwhelming at first. Although, by starting slow with simple recipes that you can prepare with only a handful of ingredients and utilizing crock pots. All you do is dump in the food, stir it, throw on your shoes and walk out the door. A few easy recipes to get you going would be chili’s, soups, or a stir fry. These are hearty, comfort food with a twist. The twist is fresh ingredients like tomatoes, onions, peppers and spices that can be in almost every meal. With these meals you can even reduce the amount of red meat because you don’t even know the meat is missing. Throw beans in there and you are getting your protein. Beans have a bad rap sheet although they are fantastic. Plus they are inexpensive and can be bought in bulk. Then soak overnight and cook on the weekend for three hours and freeze. Then you can easily throw them in any dish and make it quickly. A couple of times a week you will need to make a quick dish and these fellas will help. Brown some veggies or greens and throw in the beans and call it done with a side dish of salad and another veggie.
Most dinners begin in a similar theme and I’ll go through it here with vegetarian based meals but you could brown some meat first or with onions. Start with dicing onions and brown them. Then put in the veggies, seasonings and whatever you have on hand is perfect. At this point you can add water for crisper veggies or saute until they are browned. Beans, lentils, and legumes can be mixed in right from the freezer and cook for bit longer than you’re done. Now we aren’t against lean cuts of meat either. We love fresh fish, chicken, pork, beef and other meats as well but in moderation. The meat shouldn’t take up your whole plate but be the size or your palm. You can also prepare these by grilling, baking, or marinating earlier and quickly adding to the recipe. These are a couple of ideas to have dinner prepared before you leave the house or to quickly whip up something once you get home. The key is to try to find something that works for you and skip the easy fast food options, going out to eat and eliminate processed foods.
Late night snack attack.
So you’ve made it through the whole day but 9 o’clock is snack time. The cereal, popcorn, chips and other snacks in the cupboard are calling your name. Yes, a quick little plate of nachos sounds awesome plus there is some healthy salsa in there. I’ve been down this road many times. I can do great during the day but nighttime is a whole new challenge. There are simple changes like out of sight out of mind. This does work believe me. If you have ice cream and cake available then you will eat it. If you have chips and cheese ready for consumption then you will consume them. Make it easier on yourself by removing these items or skipping them at the grocery store.
Snacks are the easiest to prepare in most cases but can be the hardest when it comes to cravings. Dinner and lunch have their pitfalls but snacking is something that is there all day long whenever you feel hungry. You can grab the fruit, cut the veggies, eat the nuts and buy all the healthy items to stock your shelves. But you may find yourself looking for something else still. Don’t cave into your cravings! Find simple recipes like roasted chickpeas or pretzels with your own seasonings, make humus or bean dip, and use the new nut butters for snacking. Remember there are so many options that you can use now a days. The internet is crawling with new health recipes so find a few and snack it up.
A few additional tips to feed your healthy, green munching machine.
Planning ahead is key. It doesn’t take long to get an idea beforehand. Normally, we just have an idea of what food we want to prepare and then you find your recipe. If you don’t have everything then shoot from the hip.
Drink water when you feel hungry. Understanding when you’re hungry or thirsty is something that is hard to know. Although in most cases your probably not starving or even that hungry but bored. So instead drink some water or keep yourself busy doing something. Plus if you’ve eaten good all day then you shouldn’t really be hungry.
Fat free, natural, gluten-free and other names on foods can be confusing but if you educate yourself then you’re less likely to be tricked. They want you to buy their products and you need to read the label. All the information you need is right there in your brain and you just need to access it. Stick with whole foods that aren’t in doubt. If they are in doubt that you can probably go without. The key is to not dwell on what you shouldn’t have but embrace all the possibilities of what is out there because you’re on your way to being a health guru. We wish you good luck and know that you can do it!