Set Yourself Up For Success
It can be difficult to make the right choices when it comes to food. Trust me, I know. I struggle too. I have weak moments. I am bombarded by all the same marketing ploys and moments of weakness as everyone else. What has helped me immensely is getting real with myself about my eating habits, self image, and what I really want for my health. And, I've educated myself about modern food manufacturing and processing so that I am making informed choices, not emotional ones.
THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. I thought I'd share some tips and tricks with you in the hopes that at least a few of them might help you in your health journey. And it really is a journey because it's never finished. You need to figure out what will work for you in the long term, so that it isn't just a phase, but it's now just how you live. And once you get to that point, you will wish you had made the changes sooner.
You've probably heard this one before, but don't go grocery shopping when you are hungry. If you're hungry, you're more likely to cave in to an impulse, and it won't be for celery...it will be for some tasty baked goods or a bag of potato chips, right? Go shopping on a full stomach.
Always make a list, and stick to the list! This will require some meal planning for the week ahead. Refer to my blog post on "What I Love About Meal Planning" for more information. I keep a running list at all times so that, for instance, when I notice I only have a little bit of red wine vinegar left, I add it to the list. This eliminates the need for a full pantry inventory check every week.
When you get your groceries home, spend some time preparing to make your upcoming week easier. For example, this week I was feeling like salads, which is usually my go-to in hot weather. So I chopped celery, red onions, cucumber and shredded carrots and stored them in small containers in the fridge. Also, I chopped up some lettuce, washed and spun it dry, then put it in a large bag in the fridge. Putting that salad together when it's time to eat is a breeze! The rest of the celery gets washed, trimmed, and into a pitcher with a bit of water - its ready for snacking.
I like to have frozen fruit handy for smoothies. I usually buy the organic version of mangos, blueberries, cherries, raspberries and strawberries right from the store. For bananas, I peel, cut and freeze them individually. And although its not a fruit, I add frozen cauliflower to many of my smoothies, so I lightly steam a head of fresh cauliflower, chop it up and freeze it in 1 cup portions.
While I'm on the topic of smoothies, I also like to have some protein powder handy. This can turn your smoothie into a more balanced meal when you're in a pinch. I use a plant-based, non-flavoured version for maximum versatility.
I try to make more than one meal's worth of certain things - again, meal planning can maximize your use of this particular tip. For example, I rarely cook just enough chicken breast for one meal. I cook extra so that it's ready and easily thrown on that salad the next day at lunchtime. When I'm in the mood for chia pudding for breakfast, I make 5 servings. Boom - breakfast is prepped for the work week. Or, it's there ready for me as a healthy snack. This works with rice/quinoa/buckwheat as well, though use caution and refrigerate rice as soon as possible after cooking, and use within 1-2 days (this is good advice for most leftovers - people with histamine issues need to dealt with leftovers completely differently but that is a topic beyond the scope of this article).
A couple of quotes have stuck with me over the years - I can't remember who said these things, but they've helped me stay on track countless times. One is "food shouldn't have ingredients". This refers to what you should be focusing on when grocery shopping. Minimize your time in the centre isles where all the processed food is sold. Shop the outer fringe for fresh fruits and vegetables, your fish, poultry, meat and dairy. The fewer ingredients, the better. The second quote is "don't drink your calories". This refers to prepared fruit juices, soda, etc. I used to drink apple juice daily, but now I just eat an apple instead. Neither of these suggestions are intended to be hard and fast rules, to be lived by strictly and without compromise. But if you follow them 80% of the time, you're doing pretty well.
"You are what you eat" is not just a saying - it's a fact. Your body and mind need to be fed properly in order to function properly. If you've found a helpful piece of advice here, let me know with a comment. If you have other tips that you'd like to share, please do so because if it helped you, I'm sure it can help someone else as well. And reach out to me for meal planning advice or a holistic nutritional consultation or assessment. Thank you for visiting my page!
And again, I am required to tell you, THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE.