Lazy girl's 4-step guide to better nutrition
Sometimes, you just don't feel like cooking. So you call up Papa John's, order a large pizza with the works, and eat, slice by slice, as you catch up on The Bachelor.
Sometimes, you hit snooze too many times and end up stopping at Mickey D's for a sausage egg McMuffin instead of enjoying a healthy breakfast before work. Whether this behavior is caused by stressful 16-hour days or just taking the path of least resistance, fast food and high-fat snacks are the recipe not only for weight gain, but other serious health risks. Don't stress, though -- even the laziest girls can improve their nutrition with these easy steps.
If your version of a homecooked meal is a Hamburger Helper, these steps are for you! Each tip gives you very easy ways you can change how you eat, and subsequently how you feel -- without having to do a complete overhaul on your diet. Plus, you may even find you (gasp!) like cooking and find it helps relieve your stress better than Lifetime movies and pizza. Trust me, I know.
Step 1: Prep meals ahead of time
Have a crazy work schedule that has you at the office from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., or a demanding social life? Don't let these factors deter you from eating healthfully! Instead of stopping at the drive-through on your way home or eating lunch out of the vending machine, enjoy a healthy meal prepared by you! Meals like this crockpot chicken BBQ, beef stew and chicken ragu can all be made up to three days before you plan on eating them. Simply put the ingredients in the crockpot or casserole dish on Sunday and you have three easy, low-fat and healthy meals you can enjoy during the week.
Step 2: Stock up on organic, sustainable produce
This step may cost a little more out of pocket, but the health results make it far worth the price. However, this doesn't mean every single piece of produce you buy has to be organic. Avocados, squash and grapefruit, for example, don't carry as many pesticides as fruits and veggies with thinner skin, so you don't need to splurge there. However, vegetables like peppers, blueberries and pears have a higher risk for pesticides so it's good to go organic there. Another veggie you need organic? Leafy greens. Lettuce and spinach are subject to pesticides and chemicals when grown at a non-organic farm and are nearly impossible to scrub completely clean.
Step 3: Eat whole grain & whole wheat instead of white
When in doubt, get whole grain. Need flour for your favorite cookies or cake? Buy whole wheat. Love bringing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to work? Put that Jiffy and Smucker's between two pieces of whole grain bread. Why should you care about whole grains anyway? According to the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, eating whole grains at breakfast helps control blood sugar after lunch, for example. In addition, a study from Sweden showed that older women who ate diets high in antioxidants from fruits, vegetables, whole grains and tea significantly reduced their risk of stroke, even if they had a history of heart disease. If that's not enough motivation, whole grains take longer to digest because they are higher in dietary fiber, so you're left feeling fuller longer. Which means no more starved runs to get a Snickers bar!
Step 4: Spice up your life and fight disease!
Want an easy way you can add flavor to food and help lengthen your life at the same time? Add spices like turmeric, ginger and cinnamon! Turmeric, which is often used in Indian dishes and other non-European cuisine, has the antioxidant curcurmin in it, which has been linked to preventing diabetes, protecting against Alzheimer's and even fighting off tumors. According to a study in the journal Gastroenterology, curcurmin helped prevent the growth of tumors associated with colon cancer. Ginger, which is commonly found in your favorite cookies, has anti-inflammatory properties, which can treat many types of cancer and help fight osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Cinnamon, which is good in almost anything, can protect against Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as improve blood circulation.
Even the laziest of girls can handle these tasks, so get started, and cheers to better health!