If you want to eat healthy, start planning ahead. A little foresight will help you to learn new habits when it comes to choosing nutritious foods and assembling balanced meals. Take a look at these 5 benefits of deciding what to eat ahead of time, along with strategies you can use when you’re dining at home or visiting your favorite restaurant.
Benefits of Planning Ahead
1. Discover healthier choices. You have a wide variety of ingredients to choose from when you’re mulling over your eating plan in advance. Try out exotic vegetables or fruits. Experiment with a recipe for slimming down a cream sauce.
2. Resist temptation. It’s easier to turn down corn chips when you have wasabi hummus and baby carrots on hand. Find lower calorie substitutes for junk food.
3. Enjoy food more. Anticipation heightens any pleasure. Look forward to the special brunch you’ve arranged for Sunday morning instead of settling for the same old dry cereal you eat every day.
4. Track your progress. It’s easier to evaluate your diet when you can remember what you ate for lunch yesterday. Planning ahead gives you more accurate data to enter into your weight loss diary or your mobile fitness app.
5. Manage your busy schedule. Maybe your days are jam-packed with soccer games and sales reports. Advance preparations may be the only way to stay on top of caring for your health.
Strategies to Use at Home
1. Shop smart. Bring home groceries that are good for your heart and waistline. Fill your cart with fresh produce, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Cut down on processed foods.
2. Rearrange your kitchen. If you still want to keep some brownies around, put them out of reach. On the other hand, park a bowl of apples in the middle of your kitchen counter so they’ll be the first thing that you reach for.
3. Design menus. Exercise your creativity. Turn weekday dinners into 3-course feasts. Round off your main course with a simple soup and a fruit parfait for dessert.
4. Cook in batches. Focus on make-ahead meals. That way you can cook once while feeding your family two or three times. Prepare chili or lasagna. Freeze the leftovers and reheat them when you arrive home after working late at the office.
5. Measure portions. Spending more time on food preparation gives you time to become familiar with eyeballing portion sizes. Practice identifying one ounce of cheese. It’s about as big as a pair of dice.
Strategies to Use for Eating Out
1. Carry snacks. Dine out without sabotaging your good intentions. Bring along whole wheat crackers or a handful of nuts to munch on before you walk into the restaurant. You’re more likely to order a light dish like grilled fish if you feel slightly full.
2. Call ahead. Place a call or go online to check out your options before you reserve a table. Many restaurants post their full menus. Look for calorie counts for each dish or any special sections for dieters. Phone ahead to see if the kitchen will take custom orders.
3. Enlist support. Studies show that our table companions have a big influence on how many calories we consume. If your friends are hearty eaters, you may want to invite them out for a ball game instead of a steak dinner. When dining in a group, try ordering first. You may find that your friends will join you in asking for broccoli instead of French fries.
Maintain a healthy weight by creating an eating plan and sticking to it. Planning ahead provides the structure you need to make wholesome foods part of your busy lifestyle.