9 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Eating Success
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Below you’ll find part two of my four-part National Nutrition Month Series.
If you think healthy eating is impossible, the following nine tips are sure to put you at ease and help you and your family set yourselves up for success on the eating front.
Plan meals ahead of time. “It’s probably one of the most important things you can do in order to ensure that your diet is healthy and nutrient-rich,” says author and health journalist Lisa Drayer, MA, RD. Drayer suggests taking time during the weekend to plan a weekly menu, head to the supermarket, and prepare some meals ahead of time. “You can even double your portions and freeze some food for next time. By planning and preparing in advance, you’ll be less likely to make poor food choices when your stomach is growling,” she says.
Stock up on staples. “I always encourage people to try to cook more at home, but getting a healthy meal on the table on a busy weeknight can be a real challenge,” says Karen Ansel, MS, RDN, a freelance writer and co-author of Healthy in a Hurry: Easy, Good-for-You Recipes for Every Meal of the Day. For a meal that’s ready in less time than it takes to wait for pizza delivery, Ansel suggests stocking your fridge, freezer and pantry with a few non-perishable ingredients such as whole-wheat pasta and tomato sauce from a jar along with some frozen veggies. “You’ll eat more healthfully and save money too!” adds Ansel (pictured below).
Be a prep master. “Chop once, clean once, eat (at least) twice,” says Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD. Too boost efficiency and improve eating habits, Moore suggests the following: “Instead of chopping just what’s needed for a recipe, when you’re in prep mode, chop the whole onion, pepper or carrot. You can toss those extra vegetables into omelets, soups, stews, stir fry, casseroles and more.” Moore (pictured below) says that having the vegetables already chopped saves time in prep and clean up in the kitchen and increases the likelihood that you’ll cook healthy meals more often. “Properly stored, vegetables last several days in the refrigerator and even longer in the freezer. How do you think restaurants get meals on the table in under 20 minutes?” she adds.
Go raw. “If you’d like to eat more vegetables but don’t have time to cook them, stock up on raw vegetables such as grape tomatoes, baby carrots, sugar snap peas and sliced red bell peppers, all of which count toward your daily vegetable quota,” says Ansel. She also says it’s A OK to dunk raw veggies into in a little olive oil based salad dressing. “Its healthy fats make raw veggies taste better and help you absorb more of their nutrients too,” Ansel says.
Set up a salad bar. Because buying vegetables in large quantities often results in food waste, registered dietitian Robin Plotkin suggests that when trying new vegetables, it’s wise to pick a few from the salad bar in small amounts. “Eat them raw, or, steam, roast or grill them to see what flavor and texture you prefer,” Plotkin (pictured below) says.
Eat your vegetables first. According to Moore, “One of Steve Covey’s classic book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is “Put first things first.” I use this strategy every day in my business and at meals to make sure I get my vegetables in upfront.” Moore also believes that vegetables are the perfect lower calorie way to fill up, especially for those working to manage their weight (and who isn’t?). “Vegetables also deliver lots of flavor, color and nutrition,” Moore (pictured below) adds.
Keep fruit on your kitchen counter. According to Drayer (pictured below), “When it comes to snacking, we’re more likely to consume what catches our eye. If it’s a fruit bowl on your kitchen counter, you’ll be more inclined to boost your intake of antioxidants and fiber. You’ll also be less likely to indulge in unhealthy snacks.”
Follow the “Red, Green and Orange Rule.” According to Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, coauthors of The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure, “It’s wise to include one red, green or orange vegetable or fruit in every meal. We all should get more produce, and when you concentrate on getting one of these colors at each meal, you won’t forget to include these healthy foods.” According to The Nutrition Twins, “Vegetables and fruits are an excellent source of disease-fighting nutrients and are high in fiber and low in calories and great for helping maintain a healthy weight and fighting aging.” To incorporate more into your diet, The Nutrition Twins recommend making/ordering omelets, sandwiches, pizzas, wraps and burritos with veggies added; using nori or lettuce for traditional sandwiches or wraps rather than carb-rich breads; topping baked potatoes with steamed vegetables; and mixing pureed canned pumpkin into oatmeal and adding cinnamon.
Slash sodium. According to The Nutrition Twins (pictured in header), “Replacing sodium with spices and with lemon can reduce your risk your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease without compromising the flavor of meals.” For example, they suggest turmeric on eggs; cinnamon on oatmeal; rosemary and oregano on chicken; black pepper and lemon on fish; and cumin on rice.
Image for Drayer via Lisa Drayer; image for Ansel via Lisa Hancock Photography; image for Moore via Sophia Barrett Studios; image for Plotkin via Lisa A. Stewart; and image for The Nutrition Twins via Jeff Fasano.
Check out Part One of my 4-part National Nutrition Month Series, 6 Mindful Eating Tips, here.
Some other notable NNM posts:
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