7 Hacks for Healthy Eating

2 May

Yep, I've been bitten by the salad-in-a-jar trend. Photo by me.

Yep, I’ve been bitten by the salad-in-a-jar trend. Photo by me.

 

A friend of mine surprised me recently with a request to help her with her diet plan. While I’m obsessed with nutrition and wipe my brow after every article I read about exercise, I don’t consider myself to be a health expert. I have a killer sweet tooth and once consumed an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting. (Okay, maybe I’ve done that more than once, but definitely less than five times.)

That being said, her query got me thinking about how my food consumption has evolved since my binge-ice-cream-eating days. It’s true that I’m much more conscious about what I put into my body than I was a few years ago. Marrying an amazing chef probably has something to do with it, but I’d also like to think much of it comes from a personal desire to be a happy, healthy person.

Here are a few hassle-free ways to save on calories (see what I did there?) so you, too, can making healthy eating a part of your lifestyle.

Eat at Home — Dining out frequently is the biggest contributor to weight gain (in my opinion). I eat from home the majority of the time and bring my lunch to work everyday. When I do eat out, I review the menu and nutrition facts before I head to the restaurant. That way, I know exactly what I’m ordering and feel confident my selection is one of the more healthful options.

Be Thoughtful About Breakfast  — Protein is a key ingredient for your morning meal because it helps you feel fuller longer. In addition to my daily juicing habit, I nibble on protein-rich granola bars or the occasional hard-boiled egg. Before juicing took over my life, I made smoothies with frozen strawberries, half a banana, protein-rich yogurt, spinach, almond milk and ground flaxseed. Eight ounces of that goodness kept me satisfied for several hours.

Think Moderation — You’re probably sick of hearing about moderation, but ultimately it’s the best way to avoid binging on your guilty pleasure. If you’re a huge fan of DQ blizzards, for example, treat yourself to a mini version once in awhile. I’m a chocolate fiend and keep a stash of 1-oz portions of the dark stuff in my desk drawer for midday nibbling.

Substitute Sugar — When I start craving Reese’s Peanut Butter cups or something similarly unhealthy, I force myself to reach for an apple or other fruit. While it may be the last thing I want, I find myself not as ravenous for Reese’s after my healthy snack. The natural sugar in the fruit helps satisfy my craving in a shameless way.

Drink Lots of Water — One of the recommendations from The Biggest Loser series is to drink a glass of water before every meal or snack. In addition to staying hydrated, this strategy helps you feel more full and ultimately makes portioning much easier. I have a water bottle at my desk which I refill and stick in the freezer for about 30 minutes so I can sip on cold water all day.

Spruce Up Salads — Mixing up salad ingredients is key to sticking with them in the long run. I used to hate salads until I started adding radishes, avocados, mushrooms and other tasty additions. My husband also makes a killer salad dressing that includes feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. Here’s a great reference I stumbled upon for mixing up salad recipes from the chicly-named Cupcakes and Cashmere.

Schedule Snacks — If someone observed my eating habits everyday, they’d notice that I’m fairly OCD about snack time. I have a single-serving of all-natural, no-sugar-added applesauce with string cheese and raw almonds around 10:00 a.m. Between noon and 1:00 p.m., I bust out my salad-in-a-jar or dinner leftovers. When 3:00 p.m. hits, I’m jonesing for something sweet and grab half an apple with peanut butter. Ultimately, this regimen keeps me from running out for a sugary latte or bag of M&Ms.

What are some of your hacks for eating healthy?

11 Responses to “7 Hacks for Healthy Eating”

  1. Troy May 7, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    Not gonna lie, but if there’s every anyone that should be criticized for eating too much unhealthy food, it’s me. I can’t help it – I just think that cuisine is one of the greatest joys in life. At least I work out a lot, so that keeps me fit.

    • Kendal May 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

      Trust me, I get it! I love food and have a particular weakness for cheese. Food is definitely more than just fuel for me; it’s an experience! It’s great that you work out to balance your cuisine selections. Getting regular cardio is a challenge for me but I’m working on it.

  2. Pretired Nick May 9, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

    Our favorite things are the 1/4 pasture-raised cow we keep in the freezer. So nice to have healthy meat available. Plus we buy frozen wild salmon that we also bought in bulk. Having something on-hand keeps us from cheating and eating crap, plus it’s cheaper than the same product from the regular grocery store (if they even have clean meats like this).

    • Kendal May 9, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

      Great point, Nick. We bought grass-fed beef a couple years in a row but unfortunately the second year’s batch wasn’t very good. I would love to find a good source of this kind of meat so we don’t buy the bad stuff from the store. I think a lot of our health problems are related to how our food system is managed in this country, and I’d prefer to get my food directly from the source when possible! Buying frozen fish in bulk is a good idea — we’ll have to start trying that! Thanks for commenting!

  3. Sicorra May 9, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

    I love your salad in a jar idea! Very cool.

    Your “what not to eat” choices are very similar to mine. I love Reeses, M&Ms and Blizzards. I love ice cream and dark chocolate. But you are so right, about choosing fruit instead. I’ve always loved fruit but why has it taken me so many years to choose a nice piece of fresh fruit instead of ice cream. I am really working hard at giving up sugar and dairy products.

    • Kendal May 9, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

      The salad-in-a-jar concept works so well! It was always such a pain bringing several containers of ingredients for one dish. I’ve gotten better about reaching for “healthy sugars” over the stuff I really crave, but it’s hard! Sometimes I cave but I’ve learned to forgive myself which is also important. No use in beating yourself up because you ate a cookie.

  4. Jacob@CashCowCouple May 10, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    We have a bunch of food hacks for dieting reasons. Instead of sugar, we use stevia. It’s turning out to be a remarkable little plant via scientific studies.

    We never eat out without at least 1/2 off coupon. That means we have to continue learning how to cook.

    We also buy groceries on sale and make meals around them. That’s an important tip that we would give to others on a tight budget!

    • Kendal May 13, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

      These are great tips, Jacob. Planning meals around items that are on sale is definitely the surest way to save money on groceries. I think it also helps from getting bored since every week there’s something new on sale. I typically eat lunch at my desk but when I decide to be social with my coworkers and join them for lunch, I always look for coupons. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Holly@ClubThrifty May 13, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    I love these tips! We eat the vast majority of our meals at home and we can’t eat much fast food since we are vegetarian. I love making healthy meals for my family! =)

    • Kendal May 13, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

      Thanks Holly! Being vegetarian definitely limits your fast food options, but that’s definitely a good thing! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Ervin Kaplowitz June 7, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    Because almonds are naturally very nutritious, almond milk doesn’t need to be fortified. You can make almond milk yourself at home, and it will have the same nutritional value as the almond milk available commercially.