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5 Tips to help you succeed at healthy eating

Many of us have the best of intentions when it comes to eating healthy and making nutritious food choices, but let’s admit it, often times life seems to get in the way. Long hours at work, trying to keep a tidy house and yard, running the kids here and there, paying bills, doing laundry…it’s exhausting just to think about!  At the end of the day we are tired, and with all that’s going on, can’t bare the thought of having to cook or (gasp!) assess nutrition labels. Today I want to give you a few tips to help make the path to healthy eating a little bit easier to navigate.

1. Create the right kitchen environment – It’s time to purge the junk food (cupboards, drawers, fridge, and freezer), gather the tools you need to prepare healthy nutritious foods at home, and make sure you have a decent supply of staple items on hand (e.g., spices, canned/frozen veggies and fruit, lean meats and seafood, eggs, and healthy fat sources like olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado). Remember, a good kitchen environment is more than just the food inside. As a starting point, collect (and USE) healthy recipes, get yourself a good set of pots and pans, kitchen knives, a crock pot, measuring cups and spoons, some glass food storage containers and perhaps even a food processor. Make it a goal to use the microwave as little as possible…this will likely mean you are buying and preparing unprocessed, nutritious foods.

2. Have a plan – Make a plan for the week. Once per week (weekends are a great time for this), sit down and plan all of your meals for the week.  This includes breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate – keep things simple!  For example:  Monday Breakfast: Eggs, fruit, nuts; Lunch: Salad with chicken and avocado; Dinner: Steak, asparagus and sweet potatoes; Snacks: Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. Post your plan on the refrigerator and stick to it.  Every evening review the plan for the next day and make sure you’ve got everything you need for success.

3. Grocery shopping savvy – When the plan is complete its time to go shopping.  Get EVERYTHING you’ll need to get you through the week. You may need to do a fresh produce run mid-week but other than that you should be able to get it all. If you have the option, check out your local farmer’s market for fresh, seasonal, local foods. When it comes to the grocery store, try to shop the perimeter for the bulk of your essentials (fruits and vegetables, meat/poultry/fish, dairy products, eggs), then bravely and briefly venture to the interior aisles for a select few items (nuts, seeds, olive and/or coconut oil, coffee, tea, spices). Remember, you’ve already made your list and it’s important that you STICK to it. *BONUS TIP: try to bring the kids and teach them these habits early on to get them interested and involved in making healthy food choices.

4. Pick a day and dedicate a few hours to doing food prep – Prepare as much of the food for the week ahead of time as you can.  Grill a bunch of chicken, pork, beef to have on hand, fire up the crock pot, boil some eggs, wash and cut up veggies and fruit, and then portion/prepare your breakfasts/lunches so they are in the fridge, ready to grab and go. Since you already have your meals planned for the week, it’s easy to grab a quick breakfast, pack your own lunch to bring to work (daily take-out meals can easily be avoided), and as you’re driving home at the end of the day you won’t have the dreadful question running through your mind…“what am I going to make for dinner?” You already have a plan. Put on your favourite tunes and prep away!

5. Repetition and consistency will help you build effective healthy habits – Once you’ve been doing these things for a while, they’ll start to become habits. You won’t have to think so much or try so hard to make the “healthy choice”…it’s just what you do. As you continue to eat more healthy foods, you’ll start feeling better. Heck, you might lose some weight, your joints might start to feel a little less achy, you’ll have an abundance of energy, and it’s possible that you might even be able to reduce your medications for high blood sugar/high cholesterol/high blood pressure (under the supervision of your physician of course). When you’re feeling good, it’s easier to keep doing the things that got you feeling that way.

Try to incorporate a few of these tips into your new fall routine and I’m certain you’ll be looking and feeling great in no time. Please feel free to share in the comments section, any other tips or tricks you have to help make the healthy eating journey and little less rocky. Eat well friends!