When embarking on a healthier diet and lifestyle, I’m an enthusiastic advocate of planning ahead.
There are so many ways to set ourselves up for success in the area of nutrition. While sometimes it can feel as though we are at the mercy of our less than ideal environments. Whether it’s the donut box at the office, the cake and ice-cream at birthday parties on the weekends, the beer and nachos at the baseball game, the vending machine junk at the car wash, it seems like the universe is conspiring against our healthy eating ideals. But I’m here to tell you that we really have more control over these circumstances than we think.
Sure, you can’t berate your coworkers for pawning off their home-baked sweets every monday through friday OR you can make a plan and have delicious, health supportive snacks and meals available for when you are 1. Hungry or 2. Tempted to “treat yo’self” on the regular. I hate to be a debbie downer, but that chocolate chip muffin is not a “treat” if it happens every other day at 3 pm. That, my friends, has now become a habit. Our health is the sum of our choices over long periods of time, not isolated incidents. The trick is to maintain healthy choices habitually while allowing ourselves the freedom and enjoyment of treats on occasion.
Here are some tips for easily supporting a healthy daily diet that makes room for enjoying “treats” when it really counts!
Do not buy and store your “treats” at home.
This is a HUGE help in avoiding the need to constantly dip into your willpower… just don’t have it available! I really love gluten-free toast. If I have bread in the house at all times. I will eat it everyday, even though I know that I feel better without it and I have more healthy options available to me. If your weakness is chocolate chips, protein bars, crackers, almond butter, coconut ice cream, popsicles, chocolate hemp milk… WHATEVER, don’t buy it and keep it at home. If I want a popsicle, I can walk down the street to Viva Pops and get an incredible frozen treat and enjoy every bite. If I want chocolate, I can grab a single serving of Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups at the Whole Foods checkout line and get my fix. My point is this, I don’t have the energy or money to constantly make these trips for all the little “treats” my tummy desires. Make the decisions easy on yourself by removing the burden of choice.
Prepare DELICIOUS, healthy food in large batches.
This is HUGE. We all know that it’s a good idea to prepare our healthy food ahead of time so we aren’t caught in a moment of hungry rage at the drive-thru. But don’t make the mistake of only preparing food you think you should be eating vs. food you actually want to eat. Don’t make huge batches of roasted broccoli if you don’t like broccoli. Don’t grill a bunch of chicken breast if you don’t like leftover chicken. If you don’t want to eat it, you probably won’t eat it. It’s really simple concept: Prepare foods that you like. Maybe that means you’ll have egg salad over greens everyday instead of grilled chicken. Maybe you always have apple slices instead of blueberries. The purpose of this is to make healthy eating easy AND enjoyable. If you have delicious foods ready to eat, then you’re more likely to take advantage of the healthy convenience than heat up a frozen pizza, make a pot of mac and cheese, or drive down to the taco stand because you’re hungry for something you actually WANT to eat.
My favorite things to prepare?
- Lot’s of berries and cut up fruit.
- grape tomatoes
- egg, tuna, salmon, or chicken salad
- fresh deli meat (turkey, ham, salami)
- cooked chicken sausages (i like aidell’s chicken apple sausage)
- hard-boiled eggs
- salsa or guacamole to dip with carrots, bell peppers, or cucumbers.
Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
This is considered a generally helpful rule for life, but definitely applies here. I get it; a bowl of fresh greens is a more nutrient-dense choice than some store-bought, sunflower-oil laden sweet potato chips. But when I want something to eat with my salmon salad and I’m out of greens or am craving something carby or crunchy, I feel positive about choosing some chips rather than going across the street to the Latin Market to get tortilla chips and salsa. The goal in life is not to be “PERFECT” but to be consistent. And if making some less than ideal concessions here and there will keep me from totally throwing my agenda out the window and opting for a cereal and milk bender, then I consider that concession a WIN! It’s important to maintain a sense of balance and enjoyment when it comes to our health. Gripping too tightly to the idea of a “perfect” diet will almost always end with a weekend of binge-eating, constant feelings of stress and anxiety, or a nagging feeling of dissatisfaction. Yes, food is for nutrition, but it’s also meant to be enjoyed.
Chipotle Salmon Salad
2, 7 oz. cans wild salmon, drained
1/4 c. Sir Kensington’s Chipotle Mayonnaise*
1/4 c. Primal Kitchens Mayonnaise
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 c. pico de gallo salsa
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
*Sir Kensington’s is considered to be a cleaner brand of mayo, but not considered paleo because it uses seed oils. For strict paleo, use only Primal Kitchen’s Mayo or make your own and add 1-2 tsp. of chipotle powder for the same effect.
- In a small bowl, combine all ingredients well until desired consistency (some people like “wet” vs. “dry”, add more or less mayo accordingly).
- Serve with sweet potato chips, lettuce cups, or on top of greens.
One last thing…
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