Preparation is Key to Better Food-Related Habits
Part 2 of understanding why we make bad nutrition decisions and how to overcome them.
“Food is your source of life, your energy, and literally the chemical building blocks of your body.”
Food is your source of life, your energy, and literally the chemical building blocks of your body. Unfortunately, what tastes good in the moment is not always the best for us in the long term. Evolutionarily speaking, we are biologically wired to crave and binge on fats and carbohydrates because those are energy-dense foods that help us survive food shortages.
However, if you put a little extra effort into grocery shopping, food prep, and the organization of your living and working spaces, you will be eating more wholesome meals and snacks (good fat, protein, and fiber), which will in turn reduce your cravings for those tempting sugar and fat combinations. Your energy will jump, right along with your performance at work and your fitness or athletic activities.
Here are some preparation ideas to help you set up better food-related habits:
Shop like a boss
- Make grocery shopping a part of your weekend routine. Make sure you carve out time so you aren’t rushing through the store and write a careful list by thinking about which meals you will need to prepare and pack. This is an important time investment, though, because running out of food is a huge open door for “Let’s grab some takeout tonight.” Close that door by having enough healthy and satisfying food in your fridge for the whole week.
- Fresh, seasonal produce is ideal, but not always realistic. Frozen fruits and vegetables can be great second options and will keep for much longer in your freezer. Pull them out for a quick smoothie or stir-fry.
- Buy healthy grains, legumes, nuts, etc. from the bulk bins. You will save money and have them on hand for quick preparation.
- If grocery shopping and food prep is a challenge for you (maybe you travel a lot), then look into a food and meal delivery service. There are some really good ones that provide healthy, fresh food.
Master the Tupperware
- Aside from grocery shopping, meal preparation is crucial for surviving temptations in the office and beyond. Carve out an hour or two on Sunday evening to chop veggies and fruit, grill chicken, boil eggs, cook quinoa, etc. Invest in a big set of Tupperware and a nice lunch bag.
- Plan to bring most of your lunches/snacks and eat most of your dinners at home. You will save a lot of money and also have much more control over your food intake. Don’t bother with complicated recipes. Think of your meals as a formula: half your plate should be vegetables, a quarter should be healthy carbs, and a quarter should be healthy protein. Once you simplify the formula and have your ingredients prepped, it’s actually really easy to throw a healthy (and tasty) meal in your Tupperware.
- Learn a few key recipes that can save you when you are really busy. Things like overnight oats and slow cooker recipes basically require you to throw food in a container and walk away for a while.
- I could go on for a long time so be on the lookout for more in-depth meal prep tips in a future article!
Make your kitchen (and office) a fit factory
- Back to the importance of shopping: only keep good food in your house! It’s fine to go out for ice cream every once in a while, but driving to the Dairy Queen requires much more intentional effort than wandering over to your freezer – so keep it that way. Along these same lines, keep power snacks in your desk or fridge at the office. Nuts, fruits, veggies, hummus, and yogurt are all great choices to have on hand and much better options than a 3pm handful of M&Ms.
- Use smaller plates, bowls, and cups in your house to limit portion sizes and be cognizant of the sizes that they offer in your office’s cafeteria if you need to buy lunch.
- Your fruit bowl and healthy snacks should take center stage in your kitchen and on your desk. In your pantry or cabinets at home, store healthy grains, nuts, etc. in clear containers so they are easy to spot and within arm’s length.
Quench your hunger
- Most of us don’t hydrate enough. Sometimes you feel hungry when your body needs water! A quick tip to help you drink more water is to carry a water bottle with you and throw in a tea bag. Green tea is my personal favorite because it gives some flavor to the water and also a little caffeine zip! You can also buy a water bottle with hours marked on it telling you how much you should be drinking throughout the day – or you can draw these lines yourself.
Start small and see which of these tips work for you! Big shifts don’t happen overnight, but everyone needs a little wind-up once in a while.
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Have a great day!