Everyone should know this by now: nutrition is responsible for 70% of how your body looks (i.e., how lean you are). The biggest complaint I hear from my clients is that they have no time to eat right: they don’t know how to plan, shop, prep and create healthy tasty meals in a short amount of time and with a small grocery budget. The good news is I DO! Like anything else that works easily in life, a “system” is key. A healthy eating system is comprised of the following steps:
4. Cook & Store
Pick one day a week where you will plan out your breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. Whether you are solo or cooking for a family planning is the same, and your menu does not need to be elaborate. For example: breakfast burritos, turkey & veggie wraps, oven roasted chicken & veggies with Quinoa, fruit, nuts, beans, humus, peanut butter and yogurt for snacks.
With your written shopping list in hand, hit the store. If you’ve got a Trader Joe’s nearby that’s your best bet for getting healthy quality for a very affordable price. Fortunately all the big grocery store chains now have organic options and carry formerly hard to find things like quinoa and whole wheat tortillas, etc. Here are some staples I recommend you always have on hand:
Canned Black beans and Garbanzo Beans (low sodium)
Peanut or Almond Butter
Low Sodium Chicken Stock
Eggs, Egg Beaters, or Egg Whites
Canned Salmon (wild caught)
Raw Organic Sugar or Organic Coconut Sugar
With these items you can always stir up a quick meal or snack.
There are two types of prepping: “non-cook” and “pre-cooking.” Snacks are “non-cook.” Place handfuls of almonds in snack bags. Same for sliced up apples or grapes. Fill a lunch or snack sized tupperware with veggies and humus; salad of mixed veggies with canned salmon and drizzled dressing. Many items can be made the night before such as turkey & veggies with mustard (no Mayo) in a whole wheat tortilla.
“Pre-Cooking” is usually exclusively for dinner preparation. In the morning I slice up a myriad of veggies and place in a ziplock bag. I do the same with boneless skinless chicken breasts, thighs, fish, organic chicken sausage (no nitrates) or tofu – whatever protein I’m choosing. Then when I get home it’s ready to cook (see below).
Pre-cooking also works for salads, or crockpot dishes. The idea is simply to slice everything up when you have the time (the night before or the morning of), and then quickly cook it (or let the crock pot cook it all day).
COOK & STORE
At night, I take my already-to-go items and place them all in a roasting pan, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, pepper and any other seasonings I’m in the mood for (curry, chipolte, herbs). Then I place the whole thing in the oven at 475○ for 45 minutes (stirring once halfway through). I might also cook a cup of quinoa in two cups of chicken stock. When the oven roasting is done, I mix in the cooked quinoa. Makes the meal go further and be heartier. (Quinoa can be pre-cooked as well and stored in the fridge.)
Or you can stir-fry the items with a low-sodium marinade if you don’t want to use your oven. Prepped items can be made for grilling as well. Veggies in a foil pouch go on the top rack, marinated chicken or fish on the bottom.
Usually while the dinner is cooking, I take 5 minutes and make the breakfast burritos for the next morning. Sauté spinach and black beans with eggs (or egg whites or egg beaters), then roll into a whole-wheat tortilla, cover in salsa or hot sauce (optional) and wrap in foil. The next day this can be microwaved (out of the foil of course). During the dinner cooking time, I also make lunches for the next day, unless I plan to make the left-overs be lunch (in which case I just get the tupperware out and ready).
Once dinner is over, I take the left-overs and store for the next night’s dinner or lunch (depending upon quantity left). If I made a huge amount (crockpot meals usually), I might freeze the rest for eating the following week.
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Hopefully these tips will help healthy nutrition seem a little less difficult to you and you’ll embrace the freedom you’ll find from having planning, shopping, prepping and cooking become routine. Lots of easy and healthy recipes are floating in the internet for you to find (especially on Pinterest), so have fun experimenting.
What if said you never had to diet again? When I say that to my clients their eyes get wide, and they ask what’s the catch? It’s very simple: moderation. We’ve all heard the term, “everything in moderation.” Yet very few people live that principle.
Most adults find themselves sporting an extra 10-40 from where they were in high school or college. For moms it can feel like a life long battle with the final ten pounds of baby weight. Staggering numbers of obese pre-teens and teens are stuck in unhealthy cycles of computer game lethargy combined with fast food diets. Parents with hectic lives look to fast food to aid in feeding a family that runs at high speed from dawn to dusk.
Not surprisingly, then come the diet crazes. The Zone, Nutrisystems, Paleo you name it, people will try it. Most times, success is short-lived and the weight comes back, often with additional pounds.
So how do you never diet again, lose weight, keep it off, while eating food that you enjoy? Again, it’s simple: moderation. Don’t starve, don’t overeat, don’t make anything completely taboo or forbidden. Change your perspective about nutrition and what it means to you.
1. Don’t deprive yourself of something you really crave. Enjoy that cookie, those potato chips, or glass of alcohol – just have a small quantity. If you have a difficult time restraining yourself, restrict the amount that’s available to you. Take one cookie out of the bag, or a single handful of chips, and then put the bag away. Keep alcohol to one glass. Don’t over-indulge, but don’t deny!
2. Share the guilt. You’re out to dinner and you really want steak instead of the lean salmon. See if you can split it with someone. If not, as soon as the food arrives, ask for a to-go container. Put half of the entire meal into the container, and get it off the table. Instant portion control. (Most people are too self-conscious to eat food out their to-go containers at the table.)
3. The 10-minute rule. Start all meals with small portions. When your plate is empty, wait 10 minutes. Sip some water. Enjoy conversation. Nine out of ten times, you won’t be hungry 10 minutes later. But if you’re still craving more after 10 minutes, have a second serving, this time smaller than the first.
4. Quantity vs. quality. You’ve just got to have McDonald french fries. Okay, have 10. (I see people waste food all the time, yet, the same people are horrified at the idea of buying an entire container of fries, and throwing away all but 10. Think about that.) Now if it’s fruit or green salad you crave, go ahead and have two servings if you desire.
5. Friends vs. enemies. Friends: whole, unprocessed foods (fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, grains, beans, lean meats and fish, and water, water, water. Enemies: refined sugars, saturated animal fats, high-fat dairy products, bleached flour, excessive gluten, fried foods, and all processed snacks. Take your enemies in small doses, surround yourself with friends the rest of the time.
6. Find a better choice. There are so many excellent tasting choices now for replacing those high-fructose corn syrup sweets or unhealthy-oil fried chips, from gluten free crackers to popsicles sweetened only with fruit juice, etc. You no longer have to feel deprived of the satisfying salty, crunchy, chocolatey stuff you love. Take a chance, and try something new, but once again, no matter how good it seems to be for you, eat it in moderation!
7. Calories in vs. calories out. A calorie is a measurement of energy that the body either stores or uses as fuel. If you ingest a huge quantity of calories, better get to the gym and burn them off. In other words – burn what you eat. That’s really what metabolism is all about.
8. 6 x 3. Everyone needs to eat six small meals/snacks a day at 2-3 hour intervals. To make your body a lean mean burning machine, eat something small every few hours. One meal/snack can be as simple as an apple and a handful of almonds, or some turkey-jerky and a banana. Make sure you have quick, healthy snacks in your car, purse, desk, etc. (Skipping meals (especially breakfast), or long spans without eating, causes your body to store fat instead of burning calories!)
9. Stay off the Scale! This is very important because the psychological effects of weight gain and loss can play more havoc on your body than a night of binge eating. Body weight is subject to change on a daily basis, especially for women: muscle weighs more than fat; monthly cycles can add water weight; stress can keep weight on, etc. Judge your success by how your clothes fit, any positive sizing changes, and your energy, not what you weight.
These nine simple strategies can make a huge difference in the way you feel and look, and yet they’re really very unassuming to live with once you embrace them. Throw in a moderate level of exercise (one hour, 3-5 times a week), and a healthy body is on the way!
Remember, moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle. If you approach food as a tool and not a reward, then you will succeed at your weight loss goals. Don’t ever say you’re dieting again, because that implies a short term fix and negative terms like I cheated sabotage results. Just keep your daily nutrition as healthy in size and quality as you can, exercise regularly, and enjoy all things life has to offer – with moderation, and never diet again!