6 Easy Ways to Stick with Healthy Eating
I go through phases with my weight, just like anyone else. I go through times when I just don't feel like working out and times when I just want something quick and yummy to eat, with little regard as to whether or not it's healthy. But let's face it, unless you're killing it at the gym or running every day, you have to change your daily eating habits to make noticeable progress.
To me it starts with the right approach. I think a lot of the fitness programs out there are counterproductive in that they get you pumped up for drastic results right away. Those results however, can only come from drastic changes in diet and exercise. It can help with motivation to lose weight quickly and see a difference in the beginning, but while we get pumped up because the changes are so drastic and challenging; we also get tired, discouraged, and plain old lazy when it comes to sticking with it.
We are creatures of comfort and habit, after all. Wouldn't it be more productive to appeal to those instincts? Granted it takes some time (about two months) to adjust to a new habit. But there are a few things you can do to make eating healthier easy, by incorporating it into your daily routine and learning to stick with it in the face of temptation. These are all tricks I've used to stay on track and to stop fluctuating with my weight, the holidays being the exception of course.
1. Make Your Own Meals - We all face the same challenges when it comes to eating healthier - things like time and cost. The cost part is simple, use fresh ingredients and eat in more often. Contrary to popular belief, eating healthy does not mean you have to spend more money. You just have to know what to buy, and you need to cook more of your meals from scratch. I save a lot of money at the grocery store by stocking up on lean meats like chicken and ground turkey, I buy things like beans and quinoa dried and in larger portions, I use frozen veggies whenever possible, and I eat less expensive fruits most of the time. I also substitute in a few vegetarian meals a week. Related: My Get-Fit Quick Grocery List
Now I know, cooking from scratch can increase the challenge of time, but bear with me, because a lot of the tips in this post help to combat the challenge of time when it comes to eating more healthy.
2. Keep Fresh Ingredients on Display - Having fresh ingredients in plain sight and easily accessible can turn your daily eating habits into healthier ones. We tend to keep fruit and veggies in the fridge, but when it comes to the ones that don't have to be refrigerated; like bananas, apples, oranges, onion, garlic, tomato, etc; try to make room for them on your kitchen counter. Display them in decorative bowls or produce baskets, and you'll get in the habit of tossing fresh veggies into scrambled eggs or grabbing a piece of fruit fruit whenever you need a sweet snack. Pictured: Williams Sonoma Washable Produce Baskets
On the flip side, it helps to keep the unhealthy food out of sight and out of mind. Whenever I'm really trying to eat healthy, I save the dessert craving for whenever I'm out, somewhere like Barnes and Noble (I do love their sugar cookies). That way I can satisfy my craving with one cookie instead of over-indulging in an entire box from the grocery store.
3. Keep Non-Perishable Items on Hand - While it does tend to be healthier and more affordable to make meals from scratch, you can supplement a few meals and snacks with prepackaged items, like protein shakes and granola bars. You can even subscribe though sites like NatureBox and Amazon so you'll always have those items on hand. I also find that it's good to have a few non-perishable healthy snacks on hand for when fresh produce starts to run out or you run out of time to cook. Again, it's about balance and incorporating behaviors you can stick with, so instead of going all-out and convincing yourself you're going eat 100% homemade healthy food all the time, schedule in those little allowances. If you do that, you can plan for those time crunches to consist of healthier meals. For example, a can of soup or microwave meal may not be full of fresh ingredients or as much nutrition as a home-cooked meal, but it still has protein, some vitamins, and a lot fewer calories and fat than a fast food meal.
4. Make-Ahead Meals - You can save time and money by making meals ahead. I mentioned above about supplementing with frozen meals whenever you're pressed for time, but if you have meals prepped and portioned ahead of time, you can make your own ready-to-eat meals for the week for a fraction of the cost. Try these reusable containers with lids to create your own portion-controlled meals. You can also make smoothies ahead of time with these cool lidded glasses. Browse Smoothie Recipes >>
Pictured: Williams Sonoma Working Glasses with Lids
5. Plan Your Meals and Snacks - If you have a guideline of what to eat, you're much more likely to make good decisions and less likely to eat out of boredom or cravings. Do this with breakfast and lunches too. A lot of people do this with just dinner. But if you can apply the same principal to breakfast and lunch, you will be much more likely to make good choices. We tend to make bad choices when we're pressed for time or hungry. But if you get in the habit of eating oatmeal every morning for example, before long you'll be much more likely to go for the oatmeal simply out of habit rather than caving in to sweets. A meal planner with grocery list can also help you stay on task at the grocery store. Pictured: Anthropologie Grocery and Meal Planner
6. Embrace the Crock Pot - Well, don't literally embrace it, because it's hot. But you can save a lot of time by tossing in some meat in the morning and steaming veggies or pairing the meat with a salad when it's time to eat. It's also a great way to make homemade soup or chili. You don't have to go through the canning process to have homemade soup on hand. Simply use any jar and store it in the fridge or freezer. Try one of these healthy slow cooker soup recipes, for instance, and make extra - enough to store a few jars in the fridge for your lunches and enough to freeze for another healthy dinner.
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