Committing to a healthier diet is tough if your kitchen is full of calorie-dense foods, but knowing what to stock when making a health overhaul can be just as tough. Keeping fresh ingredients and preparing every meal can seem exhausting, but with the proper know-how, you easily begin making healthier meals.
No, not fresh fruits and vegetables; we’ll get to those later. This means scanning your cabinets, pantries, fridges and freezers for unhealthy processed foods and giving them the boot. This applies especially to those guilty pleasures—you know the ones, those snacks that you can eat a whole box of in one sitting. To cut down on temptation, consider eliminating these meals and snacks entirely, or portion them out into single serving snack bags you can grab to munch on without guilt. At the start of a big dietary change, it’s probably best to cut these out entirely until you settle into a routine and can find sustainable ways to incorporate them into your diet.
Now that you’ve got a fresh start, it’s time to start filling up on fresh foods. Pick easy to prep ingredients that you can get ready beforehand and grab on the go, like washed and cut fruit, carrot sticks or celery, mason jar salads, or overnight oats. Keeping healthful snacks or meals that are all ready to eat on hand makes it much easier to pick those choices over something quick and easy, like chips or snack cakes. For kids, set up a snack tray with pre-portioned bags of ready-to-eat veggies and dip, fresh fruit, yogurt, cheese sticks, nuts, etc., and keep it on a low shelf where it can be easily accessed.
If you get into the swing of always having the basics on hand, you’ll find it much easier to stay committed to cooking and eating healthily. This means things like healthy oils, fresh meats, fruits, and veggies and their frozen counterparts as backups, whole or ancient grain pastas, and plenty of spices. At the start, it can be useful to pick one or two recipes to stick to and get used to keeping those ingredients on hand, then slowly expand.
If you find that time struggles are contributing to the majority of your eating quick and dirty, setting aside a day to meal prep can help alleviate this stress. Meal Prep Sunday is a popular concept with abundant recipes available online, aimed at being simple to prep in bulk and easy to customize with spices or sauces to avoid boredom. Prepping and freezing meals for the week will help avoid those lazy days you decide to just grab Subway because making lunch is too much, or grab KFC on the way home after a long day.
Consult an Expert
Should you still find yourself struggling, try talking to a registered dietitian or a nutrition coach from a program like Plan 7 Coaching. Finding the right one for you is important, as you’ll want someone in line with your goals and a coaching style that meshes with your learning style. Be careful when looking for a nutritionist to speak to, however, as the term is not legally protected; anyone can call themselves a “nutritionist.” Always check the certifications and reputation of any expert you bring on to help you on your dietary journey.
Eating well may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Get into the swing of things and start feeling better today by following these quick tips!