Today, it’s almost inexcusable to say, “there’s nothing healthy to eat”, or “I don’t like the taste of healthy food.” Now more than ever we have tons of resources at our disposal to help make healthy changes easily and nearly instantaneously but the key is to make it a lifestyle. It’s time you get out of your own way and adopt some new views about eating healthy. Here are five easy changes you can make right now to make your healthy diet a lifestyle.
1. Pick restaurants with options that suit your goals
Collect a list of restaurants and take out options where you know they have menu items that are healthy and you enjoy. Save time and money by using websites like Yelp or Menu Pages to browse options before you go. Get to know your neighborhood eateries and what they are willing to do to alter certain menu items. Most places are very accommodating of individual dietary needs. They will put sauces on the side, eliminate cheese, steam instead of fry, etc.
You aren't being fussy or difficult, you are living a healthy lifestyle and the more you ask for these adjustments, the more it actually changes the menus themselves. Society's expectations for healthy options at restaurants has come a long way, let’s push it further.
2. Have healthy snacks on you at all times
Set yourself up for success by always having healthy food on hand. You never know when you might get hungry, or if you’re like me then you know exactly when — 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. I always make sure to have a packet of nuts or a protein bar to hold me over until my next planned meal. This isn’t just important for snacks, but for any meal where you have the option to either eat what you want or eat what’s available at the time. If I didn't always have a lunch and snacks packed, I would either go hungry or grab for whatever was available, both of which are unacceptable.
An easy way to prepare is to prep a simple lunch everyday with leftovers so you are not going out to eat everyday. This approach is especially important for those who work in an office setting where meetings can run over, or the food is catered for events.
3. Cook healthy versions of your favorite foods
Out of all the advice I give my nutrition clients, this one is the most successful tool to helping create a healthier lifestyle. When we think of dieting we automatically relate it to deprivation or boring meals. Get excited, because you CAN have your favorite foods, you just have to make some substitutions. I never feel deprived; rather excited by the amazing, delicious meals I eat, which make me feel great all day.
My favorite healthy substitutions:
- Bean Pasta instead of Wheat Spaghetti (awesome with meat sauce)
- Brown Rice Wraps instead of Wheat Tortillas (great for burritos and quesadillas)
- Almond Flour instead of Breading (perfect for chicken parmesan)
- 72%+ Dark Chocolate for any Sweet fix you have
- Plain Greek Yogurt with Peanut Butter, Cocoa Powder instead of Ice Cream
- Mary’s Gone Crackers with Hummus instead of Wheat Crackers and Cheese
And there’s so much more. Just think of what your favorite meals or snacks are and ask a nutritionist how to make them healthier.
4. Create routines that are enjoyable
The most common thing clients tell me is “I don’t have enough time to eat healthy.”
Whether it’s pertaining to cooking or meal prepping, time seems to be the issue. Well I am here to tell you that you do have time. It’s all about maximizing your time, by making routines that are enjoyable and fun. There’s no way around it, the healthiest food is the food you prepare and cook yourself. In order to do this you do have to set aside SOME amount of time.
The key is to be realistic with yourself and give yourself permission to slow down and take 15-30 minutes to set up for success. Try tuning into a good podcast, playing some music or maybe you can see your TV while preparing. I like to call my twin brother. It's a two for one. Talking to a loved one and helping myself fit into my skinny jeans.
5. Respect your body and what you put in it
A question I will often ask myself when making food choices is: “Is this respecting my body?”
This simple question can help to navigate you towards better choices. At the end of the day our bodies are the vessel that carry us through our lives. If we treat it poorly, speeding through and throwing whatever we find into it, then don’t expect to feel good. When we eat nutritious foods, we feel good. Respecting our body means feeding ourselves properly with nutrient dense foods, not overeating and indulging.
Read more Goal Getter for healthy eating, weight loss and more.