It’s one thing to say you want to eat healthier and another thing to actually implement healthy eating into your daily life and keep up with it. Did you make a New Year’s resolution to live a healthier lifestyle and realize that it’s now halfway through the year and you want to get back on track? Or maybe you gained the quarantine-15 and are ready to make healthier choices now. Whether you are sitting at home all day or are constantly on the go, eating healthy takes some thought and effort. Here are some of our top tips to help you keep up with your choice to eat healthier.
Plan your meals
Planning out what you’re going to eat each week is the easiest way to make sure you actually eat healthily! If you’re going through each week just deciding meals on a whim, it’s a lot easier to just slip into making a box of mac and cheese or ordering pizza. By planning your meals, you’ll be able to hold yourself accountable, and making dinner will be more effortless.
Start by checking out what food you already have and thinking about meals that you could make incorporating those items. Get some inspiration from Pinterest or popular healthy eating blogs to get recipe ideas. Lay it all out in a document and fill out your plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Then, make your shopping list and stock up! You’ll be able to make meals quicker when you already know what you’re making, plus you’ll limit eating unhealthy foods because of a spur-of-the-moment craving.
Prepare in advance
Another way to make healthy eating easier is to prepare food in advance! When you planned your meals at the beginning of the week, an elaborate chicken and vegetable dinner sounded delicious. But now it’s a Thursday night after soccer practice and you just want something quick and easy, so that plan sounds way too daunting. You don’t have to meal prep entirely, but just prepping some simple parts of meals can make it a lot easier to keep up with your healthy eating plans.
Some of the easiest ways to prepare food for cooking later in the week:
- Wash and chop vegetables so you can easily grab them for a snack
- Make crockpot chicken to have shredded chicken ready to throw into any meal for extra protein
- Cook a big batch of grains, such as pasta or quinoa, to be able to throw together filling meals quickly
When you go to make the meals that you’ve planned for the week, some of the most time-consuming parts are already done, making it much less likely that you’ll just give up and order takeout. Make the most out of the time that you are cooking the meal and make extras so you can have leftovers!
Keep healthy convenient foods on hand
Similar to preparing food in advance, keep healthy foods readily available so that it’s easy to make healthy choices. There will be times when you just don’t have the time to cook a full meal and that’s understandable! But it shouldn’t derail your whole goal of eating healthy.
Acknowledge that you’ll have busy times and prepare for them by keeping healthy convenience foods on hand. Health-conscious brands like Evol offer frozen meals that are still made with good, clean ingredients. They basically prep the same foods that you would, taking out the time and effort that you would spend and leaving you with easy, healthy meals that you can just pop in and eat.
Make easy food swaps
Replace the food that you normally eat and love with healthier alternatives to make eating healthy virtually effortless. Do you love to snack on salty chips in the afternoon? Keep lightly salted, air-popped popcorn on hand to satisfy your salty cravings without all the added fats. We have an entire blog post about easy food swaps you can make to keep on track with your healthy eating goals, so check that out and stay on top of your health game!
Keep hunger at bay
When you get too hungry, your brain gets ravenous and you tend to eat more than your body needs and then you end up stuffed. Prevent this by eating multiple times throughout the day, every 2-3 hours ideally, eating smaller portions to keep your body from ever getting to the state where it’s starving and hungry for anything in sight.
Another way to curb excessive eating is by drinking water. Often, your body mistakes dehydration for hunger. Next time you’re feeling hungry, try drinking a glass of water first. If after 15-20 minutes you’re still hungry, then your body is actually hungry and not just thirsty so grab a healthy snack.
Choosing to keep up with eating healthy takes some effort, but there are ways to make it easier and eventually, all these tips will just become a habit and part of your daily routine. Feeling healthy and having more energy is worth the effort that healthy eating takes at first. The YMCA is here to help you live your healthiest lifestyle with the support of an entire community behind you.