Eating a healthy diet isn’t rocket science, but it can sure seem complicated when you’re trying to fit wholesome meals into your day while faced with so many food choices at the supermarket, diet plans that contradict each other and the fear you aren’t getting all the nutrients your body needs for optimal health. To help you eat well (and keep your sanity), here is a how-to for simplifying your meal planning.
Step 1: Eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods
Instead of relying on the same 15 food items every week, add variety to your diet to better ensure you’re getting your recommended daily intake of vitamins and nutrients. We’re not talking about reaching for a bag of chips instead of a candy bar — we’re talking about getting a tasty array of nutrient-dense foods. Choose different fruits and vegetables, try new whole grains, have fish instead of chicken — just step outside your food shopping and cooking comfort zone.
Step 2: Practice portion control
Portion control is key to eating well and maintaining a healthy weight. Pay attention to serving sizes and, even more important, tune in to your own hunger and satiety cues. When you are preparing food and sitting down to eat, serve yourself smaller portions, really savor your meals and snacks and stop eating when you are full, even if you haven’t eaten everything on your plate. Just because it’s sitting there doesn’t mean it has to go in your mouth.
Step 3: Space meals every three to four hours
Avoid restrictive dieting — it only leads to deprivation and rebound binge eating on less-than-healthy foods. Along with portion control, plan your meals so you eat every three to four hours. Have three balanced meals and two to three snacks. Smaller meals eaten more often will keep you feeling satisfied all day long while deterring you from junk food bingeing.
Step 4: Minimize processed foods
Fast food meals and most convenience foods are loaded with calories, fat, sugar, sodium and other preservatives. Base your diet on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, whole grains, eggs, lean meats, fish and dairy.
Step 5: Make meals at home
Going out to eat always seems a time-saving trick for a meal, but when you add up the time it takes to drive to and from a restaurant and the time it takes to order and eat, you really haven’t saved any time. And you aren’t doing any favors for your budget. Making meals at home is easy if you sit down, plan them out, make a shopping list and keep the ingredients you need on hand in your kitchen. When you cook for yourself, you get to choose the ingredients that go into your meals. Making meals at home also means you rely less on processed foods, and are more likely to comprise your diet with a variety of nutrient-dense foods.
For more household tips, check out:
Super Moms guide to cleaning & cooking for the family