If’ you hate to cook, all that fresh produce you bought may just rot in your refrigerator. You might prefer to purchase prepared foods from markets that specialize in healthier whole foods, or even hire a personal chef to prepare meals that only need to be heated and served. If you have a tighter budget, perhaps you can set aside some time on weekends to prepare meals and freeze them to be reheated later that week.
It is important to be prepared if you are going to eat good foods at home and not run out for fast food when you don’t feel like cooking. Unfortunately, grocery shopping can be very tedious. Set aside enough time to do your shopping for a few days’ worth of healthy food and ingredients. Make a list and stick to it. Don’t go shopping when you are hungry, and once you are at the store, stay away from the junk and the processed food aisles. Buy lots of fresh produce and choose lean meats and fish. Stay away from processed meats, fake cheese products, processed boxed and canned meals and avoid the snack aisle. Better yet, shop for organic products whenever possible. If you have no choice but to shop infrequently, choose frozen fruits and vegetables over canned, as they may retain more of their nutrients and don’t have the extra sodium.
Don’t Skip Meals
If you skip breakfast, you may find that you lose energy by midmorning. Rather than skipping breakfast completely, split it in half. Eat a small breakfast early, such as an egg, small serving of oatmeal, or a slice of whole grain bread. Have a small snack on hand such as raisins and 10 or 12 almonds to eat at midmorning. This split breakfast is a much better solution than reaching for coffee and candy bars to perk yourself up.
Control Portion Size
Our stomachs really aren’t that big. Without stretching, the stomach will hold about two cups of food, but because the stomach will stretch, it can hold considerably more food than we need at any given meal.
When you eat at home, serve your meals already dished up on individual plates rather than family style at the table. You will be less likely to reach for “seconds” that way. At restaurants, ask for “take home” containers and take half of your meal home to heat up tomorrow. Avoid buffets, unless you are very disciplined. It is way too tempting to load up three or four plates plus dessert.
Tame Your Sweet Tooth
Curb your cravings for sweets with fruits and stay away from sugary snacks and pastries. These treats have lots of calories and can be loaded with unhealthy fats. If the fruits and berries aren’t sweet enough for you, add just a bit of Splenda, stevia or even a tiny sprinkling of sugar. Avoid sugary sodas and try iced herbal teas or ice water with Splenda, and a slice of lemon or lime.
Things You Won’t Give Up
Do you feel like you can’t live without your chocolate? If there are foods you won’t give up, enjoy them in smaller amounts. Buy one tiny high quality piece of candy and enjoy it, but don’t buy a bag full of snacks to take with you. Limit other treats or favorite foods that aren’t healthy, maybe let yourself eat them one time per month, or search for healthier versions at natural foods markets.
Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
If you can’t transform your unhealthy diet overnight, don’t despair. Most people can’t. Start implementing some of these ideas, even just one at a time. Every change you make will be one step in the right direction.