It’s March, National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spotlights the important role of healthful eating and physical activity to control weight and prevent chronic disease. But these aren’t snap-your-fingers, easy-to-achieve goals to execute in our fast-paced, convenience-driven lives.
Make a plan!
“If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail,” Create your weekly dinner menu on Sunday, inventory what’s in and out of stock and then shop. These steps will minimize that 6 o’clock scramble and the expectation of your children that you’re a short-order cook. The results: You’ll eat healthier, waste less food and time, and there’s less stress at dinner time.
Keep healthful foods in the kitchen
High among your goals should be to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Toss a variety of colorful vegetables, onions, carrots, potatoes, hearty root vegetables in olive oil, herbs and spices. They’re handy as a full-flavor side dish, snack or meatless entrée.
Thanks to advance prep, you can make salads in a jiffy. Cut the various vegetables you use in salads and store them in containers. Making salads becomes an assembly job versus the arduous task of washing, chopping and cleaning every time you have a salad.
Fit in fruit and vegetables
It’s one thing to stock up on fruits and vegetables; it’s another to eat them before they shrivel and go brown. Kick off your brown-bag lunch with fruits and vegetables before you dig into the main dish. It will take the edge off your appetite, and slow your pace of eating. Three: Sneak vegetables into unlikely dishes, such as diced onions, raw squash and zucchini in spicy barbecue chicken nachos.
Load up early, go light later
Most of us tend to eat a light breakfast or skip it, grab lunch on the run and eat the bulk of our calories from dinner on through the evening. Try front-loading your day to stabilize hunger hormones and avoid nighttime cravings. Breakfast should be your largest meal. Then eat a mid-morning snack. You’ll be fueled while you work and you won’t sleep on loads of calories at night. If your mornings are too rushed, try to fuel up at lunch.
Have snacks ready
It can be hard to hunt down healthful snacks on the go. So bring your own.
Stock up on those dollar-store quarter-cup plastic containers and pack portion-controlled snacks to go in them. Nuts, trail mix, diced fruit, whole-grain crackers are all good choices.. You can also use them to pack peanut butter, hummus or salad dressing for parts of meals on the run, too.
De-stress the 6 o’clock scramble
The key is advance thinking. Keep a go-to list of family favorite dinners next to the fridge. As you see new healthy recipes, add them. If you hit a dinner-menu rut, glance at the list for inspiration.
To get one step closer to the dinner table, assemble dinner ingredients before leaving for work. This will also let you know what you might need to buy on the way home.
Freeze portion-controlled single servings of meals in muffin tins: a batch of soup, stew or homemade pasta sauce. Once they’re frozen, pop them out of the tin and into freezer bags. Then dinner is as simple as boiling pasta and heating servings of sauce in the microwave.
Satisfy, don’t deprive
When it comes to temptations, practice a 90/10 approach. Ninety percent of the time choose healthy foods, and leave 10 percent wiggle room for celebrations, restaurant meals and sweets.
Perhaps savor a few pieces of dark chocolate after dinner. This could prevent you from reaching for sweets during the day. Another idea may be to allot 200 calories a day for sweet treats.
Earn your calories
Maintaining a healthy weight depends on burning sufficient calories, too. In addition to planning out meals and practicing portion control, nutrition experts recommend fitting physical activity into your hectic lives in different ways, depending on the season. Walk, run, go to a gym, play team sports, use fitness apps or videos and burn calories by taking stairs and parking farther from your destination. Celebrate National Nutrition Month this March by using a few of these tactics to make a difference in your healthier way of living!