Eating healthy doesn’t mean you need to have the time (or energy) to prep and cook elaborate meals at home.
The key to eating healthy and staying healthy is making lifestyle changes that become good habits. Incorporating a few diet hacks into your routine now will lessen the time you spend planning nutritious meals later.
If you have limited time in the kitchen, or you don’t have time to waste on developing a weekly nutrition plan, use these tips to work towards a healthier you.
1. Prep Meals in Advance
Sure, making three meals a day — plus snacks — for seven days ALL at once sounds intimidating. It’s actually easier than you think. You’ll thank yourself when you’re late for work on Monday morning and can grab your lunch from the fridge and go.
Pick one day a week to plan your meals, go grocery shopping, and prep for success. Prepare several meals that you can easily heat back up throughout the week.
Take the time one night a week to portion out your snacks into individual baggies. Cut, raw vegetables are perfect as snacks. This way, they’re ready for you to grab so you won’t run out for fast food or opt for chips at the office instead.
2. Order Your Own Appetizer
When you go out to eat with friends, you probably split an appetizer and order your own entrée, right?
Surprise! You can eat healthier by having an appetizer all to yourself and splitting the entrée.
Most appetizers are more appropriate for one person than the gigantic entrees most restaurants serve. Unless you order the appetizer sampler — that doesn’t count.
When you’re with friends, you’re more likely to order an unhealthy app as a group. On your own, you can choose a salad or soup as a starter to fill you up before sharing the main course.
3. Sneak in Your Veggies
Blending veggies and sneaking them into recipes isn’t just for parents trying to trick their toddlers.
Whenever you can, sneak veggies into your meals by blending them with other ingredients. If you like smoothies in the morning, this is an easy decision. A handful of spinach will add a healthy dose of iron, magnesium, and calcium to your breakfast.
You can use this hack when dining out, too. Order a burger without meat, such as an Unbeetable Burger, to satisfy your cravings while cutting calories.
4. Roast Vegetables for the Week
If you like vegetables, try roasting a big batch of your favorites to munch on throughout the week.
Roasting veggies brings out their natural flavor and adds a slight sweetness that they don’t have when raw. Try lining a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and roast combinations of veggies light broccoli, kale, sweet potatoes, and red peppers.
As you prepare meals during the week, add these crisp veggies to lunch salads or into an omelet for breakfast. You can even serve them as a side dish.
5. Skip Frying and Bake or Grill
As much as you love adding oil or butter to the bottom of your pan to keep ingredients from sticking, know that it adds unnecessary calories to your meal.
If you grill foods, there is nothing for them to stick to. This is the same when baking foods with the indirect heat in your oven. In most cases, you’ll find that grilled or baked foods (meats especially) will be juicer, more tender, and more flavorful than when they’re fried.
6. Eat Protein First
If you usually eat larger portions than recommended, try eating your protein first to fill up before eating extra carbs and sugar.
Protein is super satisfying and will give you more energy than bread or pasta. Eat your main first, then move on to the sides if you’re still hungry.
7. Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand
You’re more likely to stop by the vending machine at work if you don’t prepare by bringing a snack from home or stock your office with healthy options.
Keep healthy single-serve snacks with you at all times. Preparing them doesn’t have to be a hassle. Choose convenient snacks such as trail mix, apples, clementines, nut butters, or popcorn.
Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and eggs are also nutritional snacks if you can keep them refrigerated throughout the day.
8. Stockpile Frozen Foods
Life is busy. It’s easy to buy produce and let it rot on your countertop or in your fridge and pick up takeout on the way home.
There’s nothing wrong with stocking up on frozen foods!
Most frozen foods are flash-frozen, meaning they are picked at the optimal ripeness and nutritional value is retained. Keep staples in your fridge such as edamame, cauliflower, corn, peas, and spinach.
You can also buy protein such as chicken, shrimp, and fish in bulk and freeze it. This will make cooking at home much easier.
9. Don’t Cut Out Sugar Entirely
When dieting, most people opt for an all-or-nothing approach to consuming sugar. This isn’t always the easiest plan to stick to, and you’re more likely to fail if you don’t give yourself a break.
The more sugar you eat, the more you will crave. As you lessen your intake, the cravings should subside. So, treat yourself every once in a while. Just don’t make it a habit.
10. Go for the Ice Cream
Speaking of sugar, most people believe that opting for a popsicle or sorbet is the smarter option over ice cream. Wrong.
Cream-based desserts have less sugar than sorbet per cup. So, indulge in an ice cream cone for that rewarding treat you’ve been waiting for.
Turn These Diet Hacks Into Healthy Habits
Which of these diet hacks will you work into your weekly routine to make eating healthy easier?
Making small changes to your cooking habits and food decisions will have a big impact on your daily nutrition. You’ll consume less sugar and empty carbs while increasing your intake of vital minerals and vitamins.
Are you a foodie, too? Sign up for our newsletter for the weekly lowdown on all things tasty.