After years of swinging that 10-pound pendulum, I finally figured out how to eat clean and healthy, most of the time, fairly quickly. I use my five-day work week as the framework for my eating plan and let it go a bit on the weekends. Don’t work a regular five-day-a-week gig? Don’t worry. Consider these concepts and apply them according to your own schedule!
Here are my Top 5 Tips for staying on the healthy eating plan with minimal effort.
- Eat Breakfast! Choose one that has both fat and protein or at least one of those elements. This will keep you satiated and from grabbing the nutrient-less bagel or donut. Empty calories like that leave us hungry shortly after eating and cause overeating of the wrong things. Suggestions include: a protein shake — use a supplement OR make your own and add in a nut butter or avocado; a hard-boiled egg with some avocado on top of some a healthy bread; oatmeal — and add in some nut butter to make it a little more satiating. It’s easy to make, even at the office.
- Take your lunch to work! I know, this requires planning, and I will get to that in the next step. This saves you money and allows you to control the content of your meal.
- Plan ahead! I know this can feel overwhelming but it really only requires a very small amount of time. Step 1: Consider your week and when you have cooking and shopping time. If there does not seem to be any, then Step 2: When can you shop/cook? The top suggestion I give to my clients is to find the day and time you can set aside a couple hours to shop and cook (for myself, this is Sunday evenings). Cook one or two big dishes for lunch that will carry you through the work week. You can also make enough of some dishes to freeze them and pull them out when needed, helping to avoid the stress of cooking everyday and the quick lunch temptation. Eating the same thing all week can get boring; however, some approaches to health believe that this is good for our metabolism and digestion. You can always add extras to the main meal you have made. The point is to have it ready to go ahead of time!
- Be prepared! This is essential to planning ahead. This will also help you to avoid having to shop AND cook all at the same time. I try to keep staples on hand so I just need to pick up some fresh produce to add into the meal. Essentials include: healthy grains — brown rice, black rice, quinoa, faro, barley, soba noodles; legumes — buy these in bulk: aduki beans, lentils, garbanzo beans, black beans, split peas; frozen veggies — it is possible to find these not loaded with sodium and preservatives, check your labels; frozen berries — perfect for smoothies. It’s easy to make a big batch of a grain-based dish with beans and veggies. This will also leave you full. Throw that avocado on top (can you tell what I eat a lot of?) and there you go! Eat meat? Put that in the mix!
- Healthy Snacks! These are imperative to getting through your day! These need to be at home and in your office. Follow the same rule of thumb: a little good fat and protein will leave you feeling fuller. This will keep you away from the dreaded vending machine! Ideas: nuts and seeds, including cashews, peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin or sunflower seeds; dried fruit — but be mindful of added sugars to many of these; hummus; rice cakes, grain dense crackers, bread, with nut butter — try wild rice cakes with a thin spreading of almond or peanut butter, or roasted tahini; edamame — in the frozen section, a great snack to eat sprinkled with sea salt, and it takes only three minutes to make; fresh fruit, such as apples, pears, plums, peaches, cherries, berries or melon; granola; yogurt — cow, goat, sheep or soy, and buy plain and add your own flavor, such as sugar-free jam or fresh fruit.