March is the National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics highlights the important role of healthful eating and physical activity to control weight and prevent chronic disease.
Change is not easy. People become rooted in their eating habits, and cannot believe that what is being suggested can really improve their health and general well-being.
However, if you approach change gradually, the transition to good health can be relatively painless ! It will also give you time to change to a new shopping and cooking routine.
1. Plan Ahead
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin
Create a weekly menu on Sunday and make a note of what’s in and out of stock and then shop.
This habit helps you eat healthier, waste less food and time, and there’s less stress at dinner time, especially when you have hungry little mouths to feed.
2. Keep Healthy Foods in the Kitchen
A common message among nutritionists is to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Here’s how:
Mix a variety of colourful vegetables such as onions, carrots, potatoes, peppers, hearty root vegetables in olive oil, herbs and spices. Roast and refrigerate. They come in handy as a side dish, snack or veggie appetizer.
Making salads can also become quite a time consuming, fidgety task. One way to help reduce this is by keeping various, washed vegetables in containers. Then you just chop up the amount that you need for your salad or munch on them as a snack.
3. Adding in the Fruit and Vegetables
4. Load Up Early, Go Light Later
Most people tend to skip breakfast altogether or eat a light one, grab lunch on the run and eat the bulk of the calories from dinner on through the evening.
Eating large amounts of food in the beginning of the day helps to stabilize hunger hormones and avoid night time cravings.
Try having a large breakfast, followed by a mid-morning snack and a big healthy lunch. This way you are fueled up while you work and you don’t end up sleeping on lots of calories at night.
If your mornings are too rushed, try to fuel up at lunch.
Consuming most of your calories during the first half of the day helps to shrink dinner portions and limit evening snacking.
5. De-Stress the 6 O'clock Dinner Rush
That more than familiar question "what's for dinner?" requires a quick and easy answer. The key is advance thinking and planning.
Keep a go-to-list of family favourite healthy dinners next to the fridge. As you see new recipes, add them. When you hit a dinner-menu rut, glance at the list for inspiration.
It’s also best to know what dinner ingredients are required to prepare your meal before leaving for work. It lets you know what you might need to buy on the way home.
Freezing single or family portions of meals such as soups, pasta sauces, bean stews, chicken or veggie patties and curries are just to mention a few dishes that freeze well. Take out to defrost in the morning and then dinner can be as simple as heating servings of sauce and boiling whole wheat pasta or brown rice to go with your dish.
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !