If you’ve resolved to eat healthier this year, you’re going to need a strategy. Because it’s not only about the foods you consume. Healthy eating is made possible by how you plan, prep, cook, and stay inspired too. It’s easy enough to say you’re going to eat better, but without a plan in place, you may find it hard to see your resolution through.
Make this the year you succeed by following our six easy tips to kickstart your nutrition goals. Work them into your routine and you’ll find yourself instantly eating healthier, and in a way that’s sustainable. Here’s how:
1. Plan your meals. Spend time on the weekend planning dinners for the week. Not only will this help streamline your grocery list, but you’ll probably save money too by eating out less and buying ingredients you’ll actually use. If bookmarking actual recipes isn’t your thing, think in themes; taco Tuesday, curry Wednesday, pancake Thursday (we won’t judge!)
2. Get into food prep. Cooking from scratch tends to be healthier than take-out, but it can take a lot of time too. The trick is to start prepping things in advance, so you’re not always starting from ground zero. Here are a few things you can do ahead:
- Cut veggies and store them in an air-tight container in the fridge. (Just make sure they aren’t something that will oxidize like potatoes.)
- Freeze marinades with the protein in them and pull them out to thaw in the fridge the morning you plan to cook.
- Spend a weekend afternoon mixing up big batches of the spice mixtures for your favourite recipes. No more wrestling with tiny jars and teaspoons when you’re in a rush. Just be sure to label the jars with how much of the blend to use per recipe.
3. Keep nutritious snacks on hand. You’re only as successful as your weakest moments, so if you don’t have healthy snacks within reach, this could quickly set you back. Stay focused on your goals between meals by keeping fresh fruit and vegetables washed and cut (if applicable) in the fridge for easy snacking. And keep packaged food out of your cupboards by making a big batch of sugar-reduced, whole grain muffins or granola bars to freeze and grab when you’re on the go. Here are a few more healthy snack ideas you can assemble or pack:
- Slices of apple with cheese.
- A handful of raw nuts and cut up fennel with fresh orange slices.
- Hard-boiled eggs.
- Banana slices with peanut butter.
- Fruit smoothies made with a handful of greens like spinach or kale.
4. Pack your lunch. If you’re someone who frequently eats out mid-day, especially with colleagues, this can be a hard habit to break. But if you share your nutrition goals, chances are your peers will be supportive, and possibly into a Tupperware picnic too.
Not sure what to pack for lunch? Grain bowls, wraps, and salads topped with protein are all excellent alternatives to that squished sandwich from your youth. And if you invest in durable packing vessels -- like stainless steel bento boxes and hot food containers -- it’ll make for an even better experience too.
5. Seek out new and healthy ingredients. Stay inspired by reading health-focused blogs and magazines, which often talk about new ingredients you’ll want to try out for yourself. Chia seeds, hemp hearts, bee pollen, and flax seeds are just a handful of nutrition-boosting ingredients you can add to your diet. Or seek out new fruit and vegetables you’ve never tried -- like kohlrabi, perhaps? You’re bound to experience less fast-food FOMO if you keep your own healthy-eating journey exciting.
6. Make small changes count. You can introduce a healthier eating plan right now— and stick to it — by starting small. Rather than abstaining entirely from something you love, cut back in small increments. For instance, if your goal is to eat less meat, begin by introducing one vegetarian meal a week. Love chocolate but know it’s not a food group? Don’t cut it out completely, just reduce your intake. If you set realistic goals like this, you’ll have a better chance at success. And remember, small but steady changes have the potential to deliver big results.
Jessica Brooks is a pro-trained cook, baker and Toronto-based content creator. When she's not writing about food, she's in the kitchen developing recipes and cooking with her kids.