One of the reasons people may slip up on their mission for healthy eating or weight loss is being caught away from home, with no healthy food options at hand, but lots of junk food and fast food places close by, willing to interrupt your success.
Here are a few things to think about to guarantee no slip-ups and to help you get organised:
- Always plan meals a week or at least a few days in advance. Make sure you have everything to make your meals on your shopping list.
- Put healthy snacks for the family into your shopping list.
- Where possible, make your own sauces, marinades, pesto’s etc, so that you can control the amount of certain ingredients and leave out other unhealthy options.
- Make sure you go food shopping after eating. This will help prevent you buying items not on your list, unhealthy foods or eating as you go around the shop.
- Making a shopping list before you leave the house will make it quicker all round, no need to remember everything off the top of your head or add any unnecessary items. Stick to the list and if you add desserts or snack foods, make them the healthier substitute.
- If you are going to be travelling during “meal times”, be organised and make your food before you leave the house. This will prevent you buying unhealthy food or skipping meals completely. Think protein based, slow-release carbohydrates, fruit, yoghurt, salad and vegetables.
- If you have lunch at work, take it with you. Work and shop canteens/restaurants will cost you extra money and most probably be less healthy with excess salt, sugars and fats.
- You don’t need to buy water, you can bottle it yourself. If you like, you can boil, let it cool, then filter it, before bottling it.
- Always have a 2 litre bottle of water prepared for the day (or 4 500ml bottles if it’s easier for you).
- If you don’t like the flavour of plain water, add a splash of no added sugar squash, a little unsweetened juice, or a slice of lemon/lime/orange, maybe even some ice cubes.
When I tell people to include lean protein and slow-release (or healthy) carbohydrates in their diet, they sometimes seem confused, as not everyone are told what these are exactly. So, here’s a list for each to give you some idea on where to look on your food shopping trip. Fast-release carbohydrates are basically the unhealthy snack foods we shouldn’t be eating, like crisps, chocolate, chips, fries, bread, sweets, and other snacks.
Protein released energy slower than carbohydrates, it takes longer for the body to convert protein into fat than it does for carbohydrates. Protein builds lean muscle mass and gives energy, along with aiding us to curb our snacking habits.
- Oily fish. This will also increase your Omega-3 intake. The recommended amount of fish we eat a week is 3 portions. Obviously, spaced over over the course of a week. Now not everybody can eat or get to 3 portions a week, so this is why we have fish oil/omega-3/cod liver oil tables/capsules available to us. Omega-3 is brain food for us and is also good for joints.
- Lean red meat
- Egg whites (yolk holds majority of the calories)
- Milk – fat free/skimmed
- yoghurt – fat free
Slow-release carbohydrates work differently to fast-release carbohydrates. Slow-release carbohydrates is the type we should be aiming for in our meals, they release energy slowly and are much healthier than the fast-release carbohydrates. These are starchy products, not sugar-based or junk/fast food.
- Potatoes – baked, boiled, dry roasted, mashed
- Oats – porridge
- Nuts – unsalted
- Bran – flakes
- Wheat – bix
As I say in most of my posts, outside my daily diet dairy, always imagine your plate as a clock face:
- 12-3 – Lean protein
- 3-6 – Slow-release carbohydrates
- 6-12 – Salad/vegetables (or leave empty and have a piece of fruit or a low-fat yoghurt (preferably which include pieces of fruit) for dessert
This will help you to make sure you’re eating a balanced diet. If you’re worried about portion sizes or consuming too many calories, eat from a smaller plate.
Try your hardest to cook from scratch, this way you will know what is going into your food and you can control ingredients like salt and fats. Cooking isn’t hard, it just takes practice. Do one thing at a time and follow a recipe if you need guiding in the right direction. Always pre-heat your oven, have a timer at the ready and have your utensils, boards and pans available before you start cooking.
I will cover healthy snacking in another post.