Who doesn’t want to make healthy eating easier? I don’t hear any of you piping up… That is why I have compiled a list of ten simple ways to make healthy eating all the easier, more accessible and enjoyable.
- Make a grocery list.
No exceptions. I make mine right into the “notepad” app on my iPhone. Boom, there’s a green, easily accessible grocery list for you. I make cuts, too, just before shopping. I glance over my list and, like a football coach, make final adjustments to my line-up. As an eco-conscious earthling, I’m hyper aware of letting nothing go to waste. I’ve become acclimated to how much food I need for a week and, because it’s just me, the routine is down pat now. Buy versatile foods that will work in many different meal combinations. Pick a base (brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, oats) and work from there. Always load up on greens. Fresh produce. Stock healthy condiments (real mustard, apple cider vinegar, raw sauerkraut, nutritional yeast, low sodium tamari, etc.), spices (cinnamon, black pepper, rosemary, garlic powder, etc.) and superfoods (cacao, maca, mesquite, goji berries, nuts, seeds, etc.) to boost flavor, nutrient content and enjoyment in every meal. Experiment and find what tickles your fancy.
- Meal prep.
Do not underestimate the power of meal prep! Your pocket book, mother earth and your body will all thank you emphatically. Meal prep is not complicated, in fact it’s as simple as it sounds. Pick one day and prep for the week. I choose the day just before my week starts and I get sorted for the coming days. I bake five sweet potatoes, wrap them in foil, and fridge ’em. I whip up a pot of whatever my heart desires, be it quinoa, brown rice, steel cut oats, lentils, beans, whatever I’m intuitively craving. I then doll those out into…
- Invest in glass tupperware.
Plastic leeches into our food and even the BPA free kind of plastic just doesn’t have as long a lifespan as good glassware does. It also falls under the same category, for me at least, of treating mealtime as sacred…eating off of your nice plates or fine china, making a place setting, all those tips you’ve read to be more present at mealtime…this feels like one to me. When I’m on the go or at work, the glassware just classes up my meal a bit. (*I also tote along my own silverware…along with classing up my meal, it also reduces my carbon footprint exponentially over time).
- Keep offenders out of the house.
You likely have “trigger” foods, along with everyone else, and my advice is to just keep them out of the house. This gets more complicated when living with a significant other, family and children. It requires willpower. As a society, there’s an epidemic of disordered eating. “Trigger” foods are foods that you cannot register satiation with. You eat a little and it opens up the door for you to eat the entire jar, or start to binge, or see the day as “ruined,” in terms of healthy eating, and so you go AWOL and decide to start again with your healthy eating tomorrow. It’s something sooooooo many people do. I worked at a gym for five years and our busy season was always just after New Year’s. We live in a “resolution” society, ready to be bad today and good tomorrow. But then today turns into tomorrow and the cycle perpetuates. (*I have now have eaten clean for so long, so many years, that I simply do not crave nor do I want unhealthy foods anymore. My body has just rewired to only want clean fuel. Food I used to love no longer even appeals to me! Either because it is unhealthy or because, despite it’s healthfulness, it didn’t agree with my system. I’ve become a hardwired intuitive eater). I’m not telling you to be like me, nor am I telling you that, by avoiding “trigger” foods, you will choose to never eat them again. I was just sharing a brief peek into my world. I’m saying that one ought to tread lightly around trigger foods. Whether it’s chocolate, chips, cheese, whatever…keep it out of the house until you have healthy boundaries around what it means to eat today everyday. Which leads me to…
- Get off the “I’ll start tomorrow” wheel.
Just climb down, while all of your dignity is still intact. This way of thinking is a trap. The rug will be pulled out from under you at some point. I’m saying this from personal experience, because it was pulled out from under me! I used to have a love hate relationship with food. I struggled with binging in the years after my eating disorder. Here’s a little not-so-secret though: binging is also a form of an eating disorder! But it’s a disordered eating habit that has been normalized by our society! Think back to childhood sleepovers…did you ever have those nights where you’d eat cheetos and then pizza, followed by ice cream for dessert, and then possibly even more candy? Did you ever experience eating junk food way past the point of hunger, just for a good time? It’s commonplace in our society. Portion sizes are out of control, food quality is tragic (in most places), and the natural instinct of satiation is treated as one would treat a yellow light, rather than a red light. Instead, be here now. It is today everyday.
- Understand that “healthy” does not mean “plain.”
Nor does it mean boring, bland or repetitive. One just needs to get creative. Seek inspiration. Decide what flavors appeal to you (spicy, sweet, sour, salty) and go with it. Climb out of your comfort zone. Get on the internet! You will find piles of recipes that suit your tastes. I never follow a recipe 100%, I always tweak it to have a bit of my own flair, and sometimes recipes are jumping off points for inspiration. Just know that, with a world of herbs, spices and healthy ingredients, flavor can be off the charts. Remember: practice makes perfect. Contact me for if you want some of my favorite plant-based sources of inspiration.
- Always keep a 911 snack on hand.
One never knows when a traffic jam, impromptu meeting or adventure will pop up. I keep one of my favorite healthy bars in my purse at all times (these bars are raw, organic, vegan, gluten-free and their shape withstands the abuse of being toted around in a purse everyday). Other good options are a portion of almonds, plant-based protein powder or coconut water packet (to be mixed with water) or a portion of some other nut/seed/trail mix. Be wary of bars as they can have tons of sugar and just be candy in disguise, but simple, low GI, mindfully made bars are great to keep in the purse/backpack/glove compartment. Just don’t be left without an emergency healthy option. Going hungry taxes the metabolism and making unhealthy choices taxes the body and mind holistically.
- Make the kitchen accessible.
This is a big one. It sounds so simple, but it makes a huge difference. I like to make sure my spices stay full, the fridge is organized, the dishes stay washed and put away, and that I have everything I could need all ready for cooking. This is another great thing to do on that day off when you do your meal prep. An unclean kitchen with a sink full of dirty dishes will send you running in terror to the nearest restaurant! Okay okay, that may be an exaggeration, but it’s true that an ill-equipped, unclean kitchen is no cooking sanctuary. Take the time to organize your cabinets, fridge and pantry so that cooking becomes easy, routine and accessible. Eating in exponentially heightens one’s capacity to eat healthfully. Dining out may be fun socially, but it can be a nightmare for the conscious eater. Especially those who’ve worked in restaurants in the past (*raising my hand*). Chefs in restaurants want to make the food taste good, whether it requires a stick of butter or a shake of salt. It’s a mystery what goes into the food and it’s totally out of your control. Even being “that person” who requests everything a specific way doesn’t mean you’re going to get things the way you like them. There’s an element of flexibility involved there and I’m certainly not telling you to never eat out again. Just be mindful of how food is prepared in restaurants and don’t be afraid to ask for things the way you like. My main point is to choose eating in over eating out when you can choose. You can make the most delicious food in your very own kitchen with just a bag of groceries, a recipe and your own vivacious little self.
- Invest in key appliances.
No, healthy green smoothies do not require a vitamix. Although my vitamix is, to this day, the best purchase I’ve ever made. Some key players in my kitchen are the blender, zester, peeler, measuring devices (measuring cups and spoons), jars (I save old almond butter, pickle and kraut jars to stock spices, grains and other goodies in, as well as to use for on-the-go smoothies/juices), potentially a juicer (I don’t own one), spiralizer and clean dish towels (do not underestimate the importance of owning enough dish towels to keep your cooking routine green, clean and easy!).
- Make “healthy” the only option.
That’s about as easy as it gets. When eating junk is simply not an option in your mind, then the path is paved. The problem is the mind. The body wants clean fuel. Eating clean food likely will eradicate nearly every “issue” you physically suffer from, but the mind desperately latches onto the way you’ve always eaten. Listening to one’s body is not as easy as it sounds. It requires willpower and redefinition of what food’s role actually is in our lives. Food is fuel. It’s beautiful to be able to make it delicious and enjoyable, yes, but at the core, it is gas in the tank. The truth is this: you can have the best of both worlds! Clean, scrumptious sustenance that has an energizing, anti-aging, detoxifying, satisfying and palpably beneficial effect on the body exists. Get into the kitchen, get food on your hands and find out which healthy combinations make you tick.
As ever, I am wishing all of you lovebursts utmost health, wellness and vibrancy. Om!