When you look at your average day, what do you typically list as the highest priorities? If you’re like most Americans, the list is probably something like work, errands, maintaining the house, spending time with family and maybe catching your favorite show, right? While these are all extremely important things (well, almost all), where would you rate eating healthy among those items? Odds are, it’s pretty low on the list. Unfortunately, many people don’t feel that they have the time to cook a healthy meal, or that it is cheaper and easier to just pick up some fast food on the way home. This mindset is not only incorrect, but it can be downright dangerous. Eating healthy can be much easier and more affordable than you might think. It just requires a little forethought.
Eating a steady diet of unhealthy meals, be it from a fast food joint or a frozen meal from the store, can lead to some major health conditions down the road, including (but certainly not limited to) obesity, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. Some of these items can often end up costing more than a simple home cooked meal too. It’s a lose-lose situation. To avoid this, here are some tricks you can use to make eating healthier much more realistic:
- Planning Your Meals
- Preparing menus for the week with specific meals scheduled for each day helps to not only get your grocery shopping done all at once, but it helps to decrease spontaneous food choices, which more often than not are not very good for you. Obviously, when you plan your meals, try to keep them on the healthy side, and don’t “plan” for too many pizza nights.
- Prepare Your Meals Ahead of Time
- Many people are just too tired after a long day at work to come home and cook a meal. If this is the case for you, try preparing your meals ahead of time. Cook some of the week’s meals over the weekend and keep them in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to eat them. This makes for super easy dinners during the week, while still keeping them healthy. The same thing can be done with your snacks. Just cut up some fruits and veggies and keep them in a ziploc bag in the fridge for a ready-to-eat snack.
- Replace Unhealthy Favorites One at a Time
- Nobody is expecting you to jump right into the deep end on changing your diet. In fact, people who try to do this often find it too hard and too big of a change and revert back to eating their old unhealthy meals. If you try replacing just a few of the unhealthy choices at a time, it is usually much easier to maintain the practice.
- Avoid Ready-Made Foods
- Though they are tempting, these processed frozen meals are usually extremely high in sodium and other preservatives that can have detrimental effects on your body over time. Instead, try replacing them with their homemade equivalents. It is not only better for you, but more rewarding, and usually taste much better.
- Nobody Has to Cook Alone
- Try to make cooking meals a family event. Cooking with everyone can actually be quite fun and helps bond family members closer than ever. Assign each family member a particular task for each meal, such as peeling and chopping veggies, or shucking the corn or cooking the meat. If you break the meal down into having each person do a little something, it also goes much faster.
- Buy Produce While it is in Season
- Not only do fruits and veggies taste better when they are in season, they are also far more affordable. When you buy out of season, the produce needs to be shipped from other parts of the world, driving up the price and hurt the freshness. If you can, buy from your local grocers and/or farmers markets. It allows for the freshest produce, and helps your local economy.
Change can often be scary and difficult to commit to. Especially when it involves something as major as your diet. But hopefully with these tips, the change to a healthier you doesn’t have to be so scary. And we promise your body will thank you down the road .