In today’s busy world, healthy eating often falls to the bottom of our priorities. It’s only after we’ve begun to experience consequences like health issues or reduced quality of life that we may realize we need to make lifestyle changes. But small dietary changes now can add up to many positive results, such as increased energy, better health, less pain and improved overall well-being. With a little bit of intention, effort and planning, eating well is easier than you think.
Stock up on healthy food choices. When junk food is available, it’s the likely choice. Replace cookies, potato chips and pre-packaged treats with fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, nut butters, nuts, seeds, cottage cheese and yogurt. If you don’t have access to unhealthy foods, it will be impossible to eat them.
Prepare food ahead of time. Spend some time prepping foods on the weekend to eat during the week. For example, bake several chicken breasts and yams, cook a pot of brown rice, and hard-boil a couple dozen eggs. Cook up a stir-fry with lean beef, mixed vegetables and quinoa or another form of whole grain. Double or triple your weekend recipes and freeze extra servings in individual containers.
Pack healthy snacks. Substitute the cookies, donuts and muffins in the office lunch room with healthier alternatives from home, such as nuts, trail mix, whole-grain cereal, fresh or dried fruit, whole-grain crackers, or granola bars (but skip the candy coated ones!). If your office has a refrigerator, bring baby carrots, celery sticks, yogurt, cheese cubes and all-natural nut butter. Eating these snacks between meals helps to prevent hunger and keeps your energy up.
Have an easy breakfast. Skipping breakfast can slow down your metabolism and cause you to become ravenous later in the day. People who eat breakfast regularly tend to have a healthier diet. If time is short, grab two pre-made, hard-boiled eggs and half of a whole grain bagel, or a banana and a tablespoon of nut butter for a quick bite before work or school.
Make a smoothie. Mix up your own smoothies using your favourite fruits, yogurt, milk or milk alternative, nut butter or even spike it with a little coffee! Toss in a scoop of protein powder to make it more filling. Smoothies are quick, easy and inexpensive ways to get in some dairy, fruit and protein when you’re on the run. You can even make it the night before. Have fun, be creative and explore a variety of healthy flavours!
Make wise choices at fast-food chains. If you stop at a fast-food restaurant, know what to order. Select grilled and baked meats, salads, whole-grain bread and buns, and broth-based soups.
Check nutrition facts. Read labels on products or the nutrition information available at restaurants to get valuable information to guide your selections. Grab-and-go convenience foods are often high in fat, sodium and sugars, and low in important vitamins and minerals.
Watch your portion size. It’s easy to pack in extra calories if your portion size is large or “super-size.” Often items packaged as single portions actually provide two or more servings. For example, a large bagel equals four servings or slices of bread!
Make it your goal to start with one of these steps and work your way through all of them. You’ll soon find it easier to eat healthier despite your busy schedule. Your healthy eating plan will provide you with the energy you need throughout the day and you’ll be less likely to eat junk food from the vending machine on your way from one meeting or task to another. Remember that knowledge is your number one friend when it comes to healthy eating and the more you know about food, the more choices you will have overall.
For further accurate nutrition information, make an appointment with a registered dietitian. A registered dietitian is a health professional who can provide advice on nutrition, food and healthy eating choices. They will guide you and educate you on your pathway to success to improve your health.