Eating healthy can be challenging – especially when you’re constantly running around. Between work, errands and picking up the kids after school, you might not always have time to cook a nutritious meal from scratch.
But before you lose hope, know that achieving your health goals doesn’t require a complete lifestyle change. There are plenty of tricks you can do around the kitchen to encourage healthier eating (and even weight loss!) for you and your family. After all, the kitchen should be your healthy haven.
Declutter Your Countertops
A disorganized kitchen can lead to high stress levels and over-eating, so if chaotic describes your kitchen it is time to break out the cleaning gloves and trash bin. According to research completed by Brian Wansink, director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, cluttered kitchens prompted people to eat 44% more of their snack food than in an organized kitchen. Start by throwing away any unwanted newspapers and magazines that have been piling up. Next, you should put away the coffee machine, blender and toaster that normally live on top of your counters. Having a clean and tidy kitchen can reduce stress levels, which can reduce the desire to reach for that snack.
Replace & Restock Your Snack Supply
It’s no secret that healthier snacking leads to an improved lifestyle. Although you may be tempted to stock your house with potato chips and cookies, try reaching for fruits and vegetables instead. When you start craving salty snacks, eat pretzels, air-popped popcorn, or nuts. For sweets, go for a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips or a piece of dark chocolate, which can lower the risk of heart disease. Also, replace your starches, like bread or pasta, with whole grain alternatives. To avoid over eating, buy your snacks in single-serving portions instead of big family-sized packages. Don’t give yourself the option of reaching for junk food when the hanger strikes.
Plan & Prep Your Meals In Advance
You can eliminate the stress and time factor of having to cook every single meal by prepping over the weekend. The first thing you need to do is invest in good containers. Choose something that is BPA-free so that you can easily reheat your meals in the microwave or oven. Before you head to the grocery store, think of what you want to make throughout the week and make a list of all the ingredients you will need. Prepare your meals, place each in its own container, and freeze. Now you’re ready for healthy eating all week long!
Alternatively, you can invest in a crock-pot and have dinner cooking all day while you’re away. Try cooking up a healthy turkey loaf and freezing it, or toss together honey garlic chicken and veggies in the morning. Not only will homemade meals taste better, but they’re much more nutritious than something that comes frozen in a box.
Fresh Is Always Better
Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is another great way to add more nutrients into your diet. However, buying fruits and vegetables and keeping them fresh in your kitchen can be difficult. Each fruit and veggie has its own storage guidelines, but there are some general rules you can follow. With ripe produce, you should leave items that need refrigerating unwashed and in their original packaging while fruits and veggies stored at room temperature should be removed from packaging and left out. Some fruits, such as avocados and apricots, will ripen faster if they’re left in a brown paper bag. These types of produce release a gas called ethylene, which acts as a maturing agent. By separating produce that releases ethylene from fruits and veggies that are ethylene-sensitive, you can enjoy fresh foods and meals longer.
Swap Your Dishware For Something Smaller
If you find yourself over-eating, try swapping out your plates, bowls and flatware for something more modest in size. Instead of serving on dinner-sized dishware, try eating meals on salad plates or smaller bowls. Sometimes our eyes can be bigger than our stomachs, and we overestimate how much we should actually be eating. In fact, according to Professor Wansink’s study, people ate 54% more ice cream when they used bigger bowls and spoons. A nine-inch salad plate and 12-ounce bowl will help you cut back on eating too much.
Know Your Portions
Smaller dishware can help decrease over-eating, but the best solution is to know your portion sizes. Often time, restaurants serve enough food for three people in just one meal, which might distort your idea of what a true serving size looks like. For example, a serving of chicken, beef, fish or pork should be the size of your palm. Brush up on appropriate portion sizes and make sure you know how much you should really be eating.
Whether you’re looking to improve your diet or lose weight, with just a few small kitchen hacks, you can be well on your way to a healthier and happier life.