We have all heard about the basics of good nutrition. We know that we need to eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products. But sometimes trying to change your lifestyle to include a healthier diet can be daunting. We may wonder who has the time or energy to eat right. Well, the good news is that focusing on good nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some tips and ideas on how you can keep your diet simple in your busy life.
The road to better health
The first step to simplifying eating is to have healthy foods. The best way to do this is to keep your kitchen full of healthy foods. Keep these foods on hand to make it easier to prepare a healthy meal or snack.
- Balsamic vinegar. Use it on vegetables for a little extra flavor or add it to a salad instead of a heavy dressing.
- These supplements can be added to salads, yogurt or even consumed as a snack.
- Low-fat natural yogurt. Use it as a base for dressings or sauces, or use plain Greek yogurt as a sharp (and high-protein) substitute for sour cream.
- Frozen vegetables. Just a few minutes in the microwave and you have vegetables to add to any meal or breakfast.
- Frozen fruits. It can be added to your morning oatmeal or layered with yogurt for a delicious dessert instead of ice cream.
- Portioned fish fillets. The fish cooks quickly, so just take out as many fillets as you need and you will eat in minutes.
- Canned beans. Rinse them and add them to salads, soups or stews for extra fiber and protein.
- Peanut butter (or other nut oil). This delicious treat is a great source of protein and can be used for whole grain breads, fruits or vegetables as a healthy snack.
- Hummus. This good source of protein is healthier than other sauces and pastes and is ready to eat. Use it as a vegetable sauce or as a spread on a wrapper instead of mayonnaise.
Once you have some basic products on hand, the next step is to plan your diet for the day.
Breakfast is a very important meal – it can either make or break your day. Don’t miss it because you think you don’t have time.
- Try eating a whole grain muffin and spread with nut butter or low-fat cream cheese. Sprinkle it with berries or a banana and you will have a complete meal in just a few minutes.
- Beat a nice old-fashioned bowl of oatmeal. Try cooking oatmeal overnight and all you have to do is put it in a bowl in the morning. Sprinkle with some fruits or nuts for extra nutrients.
- Don’t forget the eggs. They are full of proteins that protect you from feeling hungry. Eat them with wholemeal avocado toast to get more fiber and healthy fats.
- Make a milkshake. Go traditional and use ingredients such as fruit, Greek yogurt and spinach. Or, if you wish, use Greek yogurt, bananas, peanut butter and cocoa powder for a delicious chocolate drink.
- If you have time, prepare breakfast the night before. Tonight, bake French omelets in small pans, and tomorrow you can have a nutritious snack before you go to work.
Breakfast can be difficult. They should be easy to carry and eat, with minimal preparation. Just do a little preparation and plan ahead and all you will do is pack it up and go.
- Cut raw fruits and vegetables the same day you buy them. Divide them into disposable containers and arrange them at the front in the center of the refrigerator so that they do not go unnoticed when you reach for a snack.
- Have hummus or vegetable dip based on yogurt on hand to accompany your greens.
- Keep whole fruits on the kitchen table or countertop for easy viewing. You are more likely to pick fruit if seen.
- Make your own varied mixture when you are hungry. Mix healthy nuts such as almonds or walnuts and other nuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds and whole grains for a satisfying breakfast.
- Take healthy snacks with you so you don’t go to a restaurant for home. Pack the mixed mixture in individual bags and keep a little in your car. Other options include healthy breakfast bars or granola to keep in your bag or suitcase when you leave home.
Dinner can be the scariest meal of the day. Remember to be simple.
- Focus on the portion size first. But you don’t have to measure or weigh all your food. Just fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Then divide the other half between lean protein and whole grains. You can make a huge difference in the way you eat and eat much healthier just by trying this simple portion control method.
- Try to make cooked vegetables the main dish of your food. Roast your favorite vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, eggplant or green beans with garlic, onions, olive oil and herbs. Then serve them with cheese and wholemeal bread for a hearty meal without meat.
- Did you plan to eat pizza? Skip the peppers and include lots of greens instead. Then combine it with a nutritious salad. Better yet, do it yourself! Use wholemeal flat bread for the dough. Saute canned tomatoes, diced with olive oil, herbs and spices and use as a sauce. Spread low-fat cheese and lots of greens on top of the bread, then bake the pizza until it warms up and becomes bubbly.
- Add vegetables to dishes without being noticed. Finely grated zucchini remain hidden in sauces such as spaghetti sauce or meatballs. Your family won’t even know they are eating extra vegetables, but you will know that the food is healthier.
Aspects to be considered
In our busy lives, it can be easy to deviate from our healthy eating goals. Especially when you’re hungry for work and all you have is what’s in the machine. Or you fulfill orders and have to stop by the restaurant to take home food. The good news is that more and more people are taking care of their health, so these types of food traps that existed before are no longer as bad as they used to be. Now they include some healthier options.
If all you have is a vending machine, try skipping candy or chips. Instead, choose a 100-calorie packet of cookies or granola. They are not necessarily the healthiest foods, but they are the best options you have. (And next time, bring snacks from home to have more control over your choices!) The same goes for fast food. Most places already have one or two options that are healthier than others. If possible, choose a salad or grilled chicken.
Questions to ask your doctor
- Where can I find good ideas for healthy but simple foods?
- How do I know which foods are nutritious and which are not?
- Is organic food healthier for me?
- Is it more important to reduce carbohydrates or fats in your diet? And the sugar?
- Do I need to supplement my diet with vitamins and minerals?
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides an overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and for more information on this topic.