Now that we have the Meal planning stages under our belts and have an understanding as to how to make it easier, how to share the work, and some ideas of what to make, how do we take it that much further to make it as healthy as possible?
A lot of people who are focused on eating healthier and losing fat really start to pay attention to how many Calories they are taking in, and put so much focus on that, and less on where those Calories are coming from. Counting Calories can be important if you’re working towards a physique competition, have a super specific goal in mind, or are trying to gain weight. However, I urge people to stop putting so much emphasis on the number of Calories, and start looking at the quality of those Calories. Because, contrary to popular belief, not all Calories should be listed as the same. (More of this to come in future posts)
So, that being said, now that we are starting to plan out our meals, why not try and make them as beneficial as they are tasty?
There are a lot of quick ways to make your food healthier, without adding a lot of time or extra dollars to your budget. Yes, sometimes higher quality ingredients do cost more, but not always. Here are some suggestions to keep the budget under control:
- Frozen Vegetables and Fruit (instead of or in addition to fresh produce). If you aren’t going to be eating your fruits and vegetables raw, or you are going to mix them in with something (either cooked or in a smoothie), using frozen produce is just as good, if not better, than fresh fruit. Unless you live somewhere that the produce is grown locally, a lot of the fresh stuff goes on a long journey to get to their final destination. Some of that produce may have been picked weeks prior and have ripened on a truck while it gets to us. However frozen produce is picked at the height of their ripeness, and then flash frozen. This keeps the majority of the nutrients contained in the fruit or vegetable, which means when it gets in your body, you are actually getting more of the benefits of it. Other bonus: You don’t have to worry about it going bad before you can use it, most froze produce is good to use for months after purchase.
- Brown Rice/Wild Rice (instead of white rice). This one may be a little bit more money than white rice, but you don’t need a lot of it to make yourself feel full. Brown rice and Wild Rice is full of fibre and isn’t stripped of the nutrients that white rice often is. It will mean that you will digest it easier, and it will fuel your body longer.
- Vegetable Noodles (instead of pasta). So if you haven’t noticed, I am a huge fan of vegetable noodles. If you don’t have access to the pre-made ones, pick yourself up a zoodle maker (they are pretty in expensive, and can pick them up on places like amazon), and make your own! I promise it doesn’t take that long to spiral your own vegetable noodles. Zucchini is my favourite in replacement of pasta. (Don’t get me wrong, I do still love me a good plate of spaghetti!)
- Read Labels. When purchasing ingredients that are already packaged in cans, bottles, jars etc.. take a look at the labels. Really read them. Don’t just look at the Calorie content on the label, but look at the ingredient list. If you can, avoid the options with added sugar (Corn syrup, maple syrup, white sugar, Glucose-Fructose etc..), with added extra salt (for example, if you are purchasing canned tomatoes or chicken stock, you don’t need to purchase the one with added salt, you can add your own later), or with a lot of ingredients that you can’t read or don’t know what something is (if it sounds chemically – it probably is). Also, limit your intake of products with Trans fats. Now, I am not saying you need to avoid these things all the time; I definitely have Heinz Ketchup in my fridge where the second ingredient is liquid Sugar – I choose to have Heinz Ketchup because it’s my favourite. I am however, aware of what is in it. If anything, just read the label and start to make yourself aware of what you are putting in your body.
- Whole foods. When it comes down to it, choose foods that are whole and unprocessed. Whole grains, lean protein (that are non processed), lots of fruits and veggies. Sometimes these can be a little bit more expensive, but it will keep you more full, make you feel better (and be more productive), and reduce the chances of needing medical care for preventable diseases.
- Drink 0 Calorie drinks. This does not include diet sodas. With your meals, drink water instead of juice or soda. Have Tea or Black coffee instead of adding extra sugar or milk to it. This of course does not mean you can’t have any of these things. Milk, Beer, Juice, Wine, Lattes etc… all can have a place; but by changing just a few of your calorie filled drinks to Water or tea, you’d be surprised at how much difference it can make to your energy levels and your waist line.
Meal planning and eating healthy doesn’t have to be a challenging thing. It just takes some time to figure out what you like, what you don’t, what you can make, what you don’t want to. So I urge to you to make small changes to really see what works for you. I also suggest not to change everything all at once, you will find yourself trying to balance too many things at once!
Let me know what you think of this series! Do you have other suggestions? Have you found anything else that works for you? If you have any other topics that you would like to see me post about, please don’t hesitate to let me know!
Are you looking for ways to change your nutritional habits? Interesting in losing a few pounds? Having more energy? Better performance in a sport? Have you thought about Nutrition coaching? Working with a Nutrition Coach, can help develop healthy habits and food advice without changing everything at the same time. By developing habits slowly, you are more likely to make long term lifestyle changes. If you’re interested, I’m currently taking a few clients who are interested in making some changes. Please send me a PM on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/danilivehappy/ or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/live.happy.eat.happy/?hl=en for more information!