Most of us just wing it when it comes to how we eat, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, if you want to get serious about leading a healthy lifestyle, preventing disease and chronic illness in the future, or dropping a few pounds of fat now, then you have to change that. You need to get a plan, and you need to be prepared. And then you need to practice. Practice. Practice. Fail. Keep practicing. It’s the only formula for success.
Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out. ~Robert Collier
The good news is that just like anything else the more you practice something the easier and more automatic it becomes. In the beginning it can be difficult, (think about the first time you went to hot yoga), and how over time it became easier. This is true for getting better at eating for a healthy lifestyle.
1) Clean out your kitchen.
When was the last time you went through your pantry or the fridge? I go through mine all the time. It’s a great de-stress tactic, and it gives me a clear picture of what I have in the fridge. It helps me stay on top of should be eaten soon or thrown out in a couple days.
What’s in your pantry? Do you have food that has been sitting for a while? Get in there and start trashing the stuff you don’t want to be eating. If it’s in the cabinet, it is going to tempt you, especially chips, crackers, cookies, granola bars, and pre-packaged foods. These foods don’t provide much nutrition, just empty calories. If you want to to enjoy these types of foods once in a while, by all means do. But purchase a small bag, eat what you want, and then throw it away. Do you really need all that quinoa, pasta, rice, risotto, etc? Chuck it.
Also, check out your condiment selection. There are a ton of empty calories in ketchup, salad dressing, etc. Mustard and mayonnaise are ok, but try to rely more on fresh herbs and seasonings to bring out the flavors in your food. These are much better than processed condiments that aren’t really real food anyway.
2) Schedule Food Planning For The Week
Before you go grocery shopping for the week, take 30 minutes to plan your meals. If you want to make your life easier during the week, a little planning beforehand goes a long way. Don’t rely on willpower and motivation towards the end of week when you’re tired and been really busy. They will always fail you at some point. We are all human:).
So set yourself up for success by getting a working understanding of your mental calendar for the week. Are you going out to dinner or lunch with friends? Traveling? Work dinners? Consider all these things as you lay out what you will be eating. Being at the whim of your hunger without a plan makes eating healthy much harder. Give yourself a break with a plan.
When planning your meals, it’s simplest to remember this breakdown: 1/3 protein, 1/3 vegetables, and 1/3 starch. Remember all three elements as you plan, and you’ll be able to create balanced meals throughout the week.
3) Create A Grocery List
Once you have an idea of what you are going to eat, put together a grocery list. Stick to what you need for each meal. Your list should be heavier on the veggies and protein with some fruit and starch. Try to keep most of the list full of fresh food.
Our grocery list: olive oil, grass fed butter, organic chicken, fresh wild caught fish, grass fed beef (occasionally), eggs, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic, brussel sprouts, celery, carrots, fresh herbs, avocado, arugula, kale, spinach, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, sweet potatoes, cheddar cheese, feta cheese, dark chocolate & red wine (non-negotiables), sometimes tortilla chips, greek yogurt, occasionally Haagen Dazs – Belgium Chocolate.
4) Grab Already Prepared Foods
If you’re short on time, you can make your life a whole lot easier by grabbing foods that have already been prepped partly for you. When it takes extra time to prep foods especially vegetables when you’re hungry or in a time crunch you’ll avoid it. So grab pre-washed and pre-cut veggies and greens so when you get home you can dump them all in a bowl and there you go. Half your dinner is already prepped, and then you can add your protein and fat. Also get prepared proteins, like rotisserie chicken, deli meats, etc.
5) Prep Your Foods For The Week Immediately Upon Return From The Store
As soon as you get home, as you’re putting your groceries away do some prep work for the week. Boil some eggs. If you’re into starches during the week, cook up your sweet potatoes or brown rice and then put them in the fridge to eat later. Bake some chicken that you can put on salads during the week. Take advantage of the time you have now so you need less time to prepare your meals during the midweek craze.
So again, when it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle it takes small steps repeated each and every day. If these habits seems a bit overwhelming start with practicing just one. Get good at it. Then add another.
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