Posted by: Kara @ The Foodie Dietitian | June 11, 2011

Planning Ahead

Foodies and recipe seekers beware: This post does not contain a recipe or a cooking adventure. This post WILL however hopefully help you find the time to cook new recipes and try new foods.

The biggest struggle I see with my patients is that they don’t have the time to prepare healthy food. They don’t have time to cook dinner once they get home late from work. They don’t have time to pack a lunch ahead of time. In the morning, getting out the door on time is challenging enough without thinking of fitting in a breakfast. Meals are rushed, food is scarffed down so that the next thing on the to-do list can be started. When we don’t take the time to enjoy our meals, are we ever really satisfied?! When did we stop paying attention to our food?!

If there is no time to prepare food, what is the next best thing? Convenience foods. Drive-thru, take-out, cafeterias, vending machines, coffee shops, fast-food…and the list goes on. We subject ourselves to caloric, high fat, heavily processed food. What’s even worse, often the convenience foods are loaded with sugar or white carbohydrates that don’t keep us full. A white bagel, a doughnut, chips, and crackers, these foods digest very quickly and guess what? We are hungry 45 minutes later. Now we are looking for the next convenience food to satisfy that hunger. This can be the start of a slippery slope. Even when we think we are making a healthy choice when we go out to eat, it’s always going to contain more calories than if you brought it from home. Beware of the take out salads! Some salads out there can have more calories and fat then a cheeseburger. For instance a taco salad at a popular Mexican chain restaurant can have close to 1800 calories and 98 gm of fat!! Yikes!

So, what can we do? We need to break the bad habits! We need to chang our mindset! We need to make food and our health a priority again! We need to make time for healthy food and eating. We do that by planning ahead. Follow these 10 steps to planning ahead and you will be eating healthy in no time.

1. Make a grocery list BEFORE you go grocery shopping. Do this on a Saturday or a day off. While you are making the grocery list, plan out your meals for the week so you know exactly what ingredients to buy.

2. Pick two or three meals for the week. Make large quantities of food so that you can eat leftovers on the nights you aren’t cooking. Leftovers are my savior! Freeze what you can! Soups, chilis, and sauces freeze well and you can save them for an extended period of time.

3. Try and cook a big batch of food on a Sunday or day off when you have more time. This way cooking can be an enjoyable experience, not something that is rushed or stressful.

4. Pick which days of the week you will cook and which days you will have leftovers. That way there is no guesswork and there are no surprises. There will be no frantic rummaging through the cuboards and refrigerator wondering what you will eat after a long day of work.

5. Put some snacks on that grocery list! No, not chips, cookies, crackers. I’m talking, fruit, yogurt, hummus, veggies, nuts, string cheese, etc. By having healthy snacks in the house, you are giving yourself an advantage. Healthy snacks will keep you satisfied until your next meal. Remember to eat every 3-4 hours. If your meals are 5, 6, 7 hours apart, plug in a snack!

6. Make healthy food accessible and convenient. Wash and cut up fruit ahead of time. Place it in the refrigerator where it is in sight. Instead of a cookie jar or candy dish in the kitchen, keep a fruit bowl on the kitchen table. When food is easily accessible, we are more likely to eat it. So, hide the junk food and bring on the fruit!

7. Do you have five minutes at night to spare? My guess is yes, we all do. Take 5 or 10 minutes the night before and pack a lunch, and some snacks. Bringing food from home will save you trips to the vending maching and the cafeteria and will save you money! Who doesn’t like to save money?!

8. Breakfast doesn’t have to be a four-course meal that takes you an hour to prepare. Keep it simple, grab-n-go if you must. For myself, I love my breakfast time in the morning so I wake up earlier so that I can sit at my kitchen table and enjoy a simple breakfast before heading out the door. Heading out the door with something quick and easy for breakfast is better than skipping breakfast or grabbing something on the road or at work.

9. Easy, quick breakfast ideas: Greek yogurt and fruit, 1/4 cup nuts and fruit, peanut butter and banana on a whole wheat english muffin, fruit smoothie, cottage cheese and fruit, protein bar and fruit, oatmeal with nuts/fruit. The breakfast that will hold you over until lunch is one that contains protein AND fiber.

10. Lists are your friend. Organization is key. Be mindful. Make yourself and your health a priority. Rule #76: No excuses, eat like a champion! (Wedding Crashers, anyone?)

Peace, love, and food,

Kara

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Responses

  1. Hi Kara! Congrats on winning the giveaway (I’m replying to your email now…) .

    I find that in general people say they don’t have time and then watch 2+ hours of tv in the evening. I suggest cutting down on TV time and using that time for food prep, exercise, etc.

  2. These are great tips… very realistic & achievable!


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