I’ve tried healthy eating tips and advice from many different sources over the years -some worked for me, others did not. Changing my eating habits from mediocre to healthy did not happen overnight. It has taken the better part of a decade and I still cut myself some slack when l have an exceptionally busy week or am travelling (don’t judge if you see me chowing down on a hamburger!). With that said, I’ve learned a few strategies for maintaining a healthy diet on a long-term basis. Surprisingly, most of the best healthy eating tips that I’ve discovered are actually related to organization!
While other factors are certainly important to making a lifestyle change, organization is essential. Hopefully my healthy eating tips (having to do with organization) will help you stick with your goals on those days when your motivation is low!
Healthy Eating Tips: 5 Organizational Strategies to Help You Stick With Your Lifestyle Change
- Stock your kitchen appropriately. This seems obvious, but on chaotic days you want to have an ample supply of healthy choices. I rarely buy foods that I consider unhealthy (see #4 on this list) and keep my kitchen stocked with healthy foods that are easy to cook (and that my family likes). Depending on where you’re at on your healthy eating journey, you may need to experiment to find some new family favourite meals that you can easily prepare on a regular basis -then begin to make the unhealthy family favourites less often. My cupboards and fridge are full of lentils, beans, seeds, fruits (fresh and frozen) and veggies (fresh and frozen) -the foods I want to be eating regularly! I avoid stocking up on large quantities when I see “good deals” on meats, cheese, processed foods, and sweet treats.
- Declutter. Clutter slows you down and when you have to wade through a cluttered kitchen cupboard to get the items you need to make dinner, it can make the task more overwhelming. I’m a minimalist when it comes to kitchen tools: I own a large cast iron pan, a few stone baking sheets, three casserole dishes, and three pots (two large, one small). Heck, I don’t even own a microwave because I hate how it takes up my valuable counter space. While you don’t need to be as extreme as me when it comes to downsizing your kitchen, think about what you truly need to cook healthy meals and donate/sell the items you don’t use often (or only use to cook the unhealthy things that you are trying to avoid). I can cook an endless array of delicious meals and snacks with the few items I own!
- Plan your meals and snacks in advance. One of my top healthy eating tips is to use a weekly menu planner to plan healthy snacks and meals for the week. You’re less likely to pick up unhealthy convenience foods at the end of a stressful day if you have a plan in place that includes healthy meals that you enjoy. Also, make large batches of food so you have freezer meals ready for days when you know that you’ll be too busy to put together a meal.
- Have a place for special treats. I reserve the top shelf of a small kitchen cupboard for such treats. This is the place for the candy that my kids bring home from birthday parties, for holiday goodies, and for the odd chocolate bar or box of cookies that I buy. I can’t reach the shelf without a stool so it’s inconvenient to access (a good thing that prevents me from mindlessly eating an entire bag of chocolate chips), but having a few special treats in the house keeps everyone from feeling deprived. I’m also forced to buy smaller quantities of these goodies because of the limited space.
- Have a grocery shopping routine. I know where to go in my city to get the best deals on the organic, healthy foods that I know my family will eat. For example, I happen to live close to the Silver Hills bakery and can get amazing deals on their bread. Also, instead of limiting my shopping to one store, I have a routine that involves stopping at different stores at various times throughout the week (often depending on where I need to drive my kids). Some stores I only visit once per month to stock up on staple items. And, of course, I love frequenting my local farmers’ market! With a routine like this, eating healthy does not necessarily need to cost more.
Remember that changing your eating habits is a long-term journey and not an overnight event. Start by trying out one of the healthy eating tips listed above and when you feel like you have it mastered, then incorporate another. Baby steps are critical to success!!