7 Easy Ways to Eat Healthy
We know how it goes: You have good intentions for eating well throughout the week, but deadlines, happy hours, and that darn candy bowl all get in the way. It turns out healthy eating doesn’t just happen—it’s something you have to work on. Luckily, it needn’t take much effort. Here are seven simple ways to makeover your meals, even if you have a busy schedule:
Plan Ahead: Many a diet has been sabotaged by a hungry belly and an empty pantry. Weekends are often the best time for menu planning and prep work. Choose enough recipes to keep you fed for the week. If you have free time after shopping, work ahead: Chop vegetables, cook pasta, and whip up sauces so you can have dinner on the table in just a couple of steps.
Brown Bag it: Women who ate homemade lunches every day lost 5 pounds more than women who ate out just once a week, according to one year-long study. To simply your lunch routine, make a big meal each Sunday and bring a serving to work each day. Some foods that store well for several days include casseroles, chili, soups and stews, and pasta dishes. Cook once to have four or five meals!
Eat Early: Eating late in the day can cause your body to hang on to more calories. People who eat lunch before 3 p.m. lost more weight than those who took in most of their calories later in the day, according to a recent study. Start each day with a filling breakfast, such as a vegetable omelet or steel cut oats, then eat lunch close to noon. This trick can help you shed weight faster.
Don’t Skip Meals: It seems like eating fewer times throughout the day could help with weight loss. But studies show that meal-skippers have a harder time losing weight than regular eaters. Scientists suspect that missing meals leads to overeating later in the day. Aim for at least three square meals a day to keep your body fueled and your hunger levels down.
Snack Smart: Some of the easiest foods to snack on are also the most unsatisfying. Crackers, chips, cookies, and candy are poor choices for diminishing hunger or providing long-lasting fuel. Instead, snack on foods that offer a mix of protein, fiber, and fat, which help with hunger pangs and long-term energy. A handful of nuts, a hard-boiled egg, yogurt with fruit or veggies with hummus are all healthy options.
Focus on the Good: Eating healthy foods can feel like deprivation, or exploration. Rather than focus on all the things you “shouldn’t” eat, emphasize all that’s available to you. By adding more healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, lean meats, beans, and whole grains you’ll have less room on your plate (and in your belly) for unhealthy options.
Take Shortcuts: Cooking at home doesn’t mean using only homemade ingredients or buying just kale and quinoa. If your mainstays are mac and cheese and pizza, ask yourself how you can make them healthier. Adding more vegetables is one easy way: Before eating your pasta, add sautéed onions, peppers, and spinach to increase the nutrition. If it’s pizza night, make a large salad to go along with it.