2014 is 20% Over – Are You Still On Track?
It's not too late to make 2014 lasting changes to you and your family's eating habits. Prevention is the best ammunition against childhood obesity and the slow creep of weight gain as we age – these can be avoided by creating healthy eating habits and planning ahead. Mindless eating and oversized portions are two of the top culprits that cause our waistlines to expand, bit by bit, until we are faced with the issue of needing to lose weight. It's much easier to stop slow and subtle weight gain in its tracks than to lose weight you never intended to be there in the first place.
Here are 10 planning concepts to transform 2014 into the year you turn bad habits into good and mindless eating into mindful nutrition.
1. Meatless Mondays
The Meatless Monday movement was adopted as a way of getting people to start eating as a vegetarian once a week for health benefits and to reduce consumption of meat products. Get creative!
2. DIY Supermarket Takeout Option
No fuss, no mess. Supermarkets usually have a ready-to-eat or heat-and-eat takeaway concept for busy customers. You can do-it-yourself by stocking up on a supply of quart and pint containers at your local bulk-buying store. Choose an evening or weekend day and cook ahead of time, and fill right size containers with healthy choices. If you cook it, they will come. Most of us grab what's convenient over what’s healthy. Combine the two, and voilà! You have created a new healthy habit.
3. Vegan Before 6:00 p.m.
You can also try the strategy of The New York Times food writer Mark Bittman. He eats as a vegan throughout the day and saves the day's meat serving for the dinner table. It's a practice of moderation in food choices that's helped him lose weight and improve his health for several years.
4. Soup it Up!
Never underestimate the power of a warm bowl of vegetable soup. Homemade soup is best, but low-sodium options work well also. Soup can be very satisfying and fill you and your family with love and healthy meals.
5. Slow Cooking for Easy Eating
Make your crock pot your go-to for a no-fuss-no-mess way to get healthy options on the family dinner table. It doesn't have to be anything fancy or complicated. Simply throw a piece of meat and some small veggies into a slow cooker with some stock and seasoning before work. Then grab a box of salad mix on the way home.
6. Try Stir-fry
Stir-fries are a great way to achieve all the objectives. Prep or purchase stir-fry veggies, pick up your favorite quick-cooking meat and pull some standby Asian pantry condiments from the spice rack and get stirring! The easiest way to make a stir-fry taste amazing is to always keep ginger, garlic and scallions chopped up in a tub in the refrigerator.
7. Casseroles for Everyone
These one-pan wonders still make filling and healthy meals when prepared with smart choices. Take a look at a few of your favorites, see which ingredients may be able to be swapped out for healthier options (chances are your family won’t even notice) and get cooking!
8. Play Games
The more fun and games we bring into the busy kitchen the easier life is. Take your kids shopping for food. Challenge them to pick what veggies and fruits they want to eat for the week, and let them choose a theme for the week or even for a single night. They'll love getting involved and may learn a bit about healthy stuff as you cook!
9. Eat at the Table and Encourage Conversation During Dinner
What a revolutionary thought! Eating at the table instead of in front of the TV not only brings a family closer together, but also creates moments shared through conversation—the conversation part of this tip is just as important as the food you serve. When engaged in a lively conversation, we naturally eat slower than when we shovel dinner in while watching TV. Eating slower is better for our digestive track and will also cause our brain to shut down the "I'm still hungry" syndrome. Mindless activities (too much TV, too many video games, etc.) cause mindless eating and can often lead to mindless drinking in young adults.
10. Out With the Bad, In With the Good
The simplest idea of them all is to only keep healthy or healthier snacks in your home. Especially when children are young. They can't drive through a fast food place without a willing accomplice, so stop being an accessory to this crime and have more fruit than you have cookies, and more veggies than you have chips. Seems simple enough, right?
And finally, all of these tips can be practiced in homes without young children. Make success easy by making small changes that can add up to big results over time.
Happy MINDFUL eating and making the next 80% of the year happier and healthier!