Patients typically tell me about one struggle or the other: “I have a hard time eating healthy at home” or “I have a hard time eating healthy at work”. With obesity on the rise, as a whole we have got to learn to do better at both! I believe the keys to healthy eating are knowledge, discipline and preparation.
Knowledge. Being educated. Being an aware consumer. Knowing how many calories are in food items. Knowing what are healthy choices and what are not.
Discipline. Being determined to eat healthy the majority of the time. Being able to say no to junk food the majority of the time. Choosing unsweetened drinks over sweetened ones.
Preparation. Planning ahead for meals and snacks. Having a list before you go to the grocery store. Not allowing yourself to become too hungry, resulting in binge eating. Having water on hand.
I feel like most people get the first two points, it’s more a matter of applying them. The third point, preparation, is what I want to focus on. Being prepared sets one up for success. Start with a list. What are healthy food items you would like to purchase on your next trip to the grocery store? This list must include variety, snacks, and meals. As far as meals go: The internet holds a plethora of recipes (do people use cook books anymore?! Ok…kidding, but seriously). Try to avoid recipes with white flour/pasta, the word “fried”, and cream sauces/a lot of cheese. And when you find those tasty, healthy recipes…make extras! Then you have leftovers for work! I try to avoid casseroles and make soups (broth-based) or stir-fries instead.
When you get home from the grocery store, rinse and prepare whatever you can. Cut celery sticks. Wash lettuce and prepare veggies for easy salads. Cut up fruits that need it. Put snack items into baggies/containers. Hard-boil eggs. Get the junk food out of the house. If it’s not there, it can’t be consumed!
Get your lunch/snacks ready for work the night before. If you plan for your meals, you are less likely to grab unhealthy food on a whim. May I suggest salads in a jar: dressing on the bottom, other items such as low-fat cheese/egg/chicken/nuts/seeds/fruit/other veggies next, then lettuce on the top. When you are ready to eat, just turn it onto a plate and the dressing is on the top and nothing is soggy. Another idea is fruit and yogurt parfaits with plain yogurt (check out how many grams of sugar are in flavored yogurt!). Use fruit as your sweetener and add some low-sugar granola, oats, or nuts. Be careful of cereal, flavored oatmeal and bars, as they often contain high amounts of sugar!
At home, I make a baked oatmeal, bran muffins or quiche weekly. That way there is always something in the fridge to grab for breakfast that is healthy. I use very little to no sugar in my recipes and add lots of extras: fruit, cinnamon, nuts, etc. I load up the quiche with veggies and omit the crust. These are also good options for lunch or a snack at work. It is also helpful to have nuts, carrot sticks, or an apple in the car to keep you from making a stop for some less-nutritious choices.
And one last point: choose foods that will fill you and not leave you hungry soon after. Protein and healthy fats (like nuts and avocados) can really help with satisfaction.