© The Food Medic
It’s January. The ketogenic meal plans and diet fads are popping up left, right, and centre. But fear not, you do not need to give up carbs in order to eat healthy or commit to a seven-day green juice cleanse to “detox” your body.
All food groups have a place in your diet and you don’t need to exclude any foods, unless you have a medical or religious or ethical reason to do so.
The healthiest diet is the one that provides you with sufficient nutrients, but also the one that you enjoy. I mean how depressing does drinking all your meals for seven days sound?
Not to mention how constipated and lethargic you will feel after a week of sub-optimal calories and sufficient fibre.
It’s time to learn how to eat healthy in 2018.
For me, the key to following a healthy diet without stress, restriction, and of course with enjoyment, is meal prep.
The idea of prepping food for several days ahead of time can be overwhelming, but as with any habit, after a few weeks it will become second nature.
Well it’s easier said than done Doc, I hear you say, and I 100% agree.
For most of you, one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to following a healthy diet is time. No one has spare hours, energy, or motivation, to spend an evening in the kitchen and a busy schedule is one of the top reasons why people choose quick takeaway meals, which tend to be higher in calories and lower in micronutrients than the meals we cook at home.
Furthermore, a recent study of over 40,000 people in France found that those who frequently meal prepped had a healthier diet with more food variety and were less likely to be overweight.
So, without further ado, I’m going to share with you my insider tips on how to be the master (or mistress) of meal prep.
How to eat healthy in 5 easy steps
1. Plan, Plan, plan
How many times have you walked into a supermarket to pick up milk and walked out with a basket full of random foods that you didn’t really need. Oh, and forgot the milk? Yes, me too. The solution? A good old-fashion list.
Spend 10-minutes planning your meals for the week before entering the supermarket.
You’ll know exactly what to buy and will be less likely to fall victim to the end of the aisle offers.
Alternatively, if you’re really short on time type it in the notes on your phone on your morning commute to work – who says we can’t multitask?
2. Take shortcuts
As a rule of thumb, processed and packaged foods tend to be less nutritious than whole food in its raw form but it’s almost impossible, and totally impractical, to cut out all processed foods as most foods we consume have undergone some form of processing.
However, there is a huge difference between a pot of noodles in a powdered ‘sauce’ and a packet of pre-chopped carrot batons.
Trust your judgement; sometimes the processed or packaged version is just as good an option as it’s raw predecessor when we are running short on time.
Some of my favourite time-saving foods include:
• Frozen fruit and vegetables
• Microwavable packets of grains and pulses (such as lentils)
• Rotisserie chicken, cooked salmon fillets, and other smoked fish from the deli.
• Cartons and tins of beans and chickpeas.
• Carrot batons and other chopped vegetables
• Hummus and nut butter
Read on: The best vegan ready meals for when you’re short on time
3. Lunch share
Just like work colleagues ‘car-share’ how about lunch sharing with a work friend. This is one of the easiest ways to half the effort of eating healthy.
Take turns making lunch on alternate weeks, or alternate days, to halve the time and effort involved, and keep it interesting.
You can do this with your housemate or partner, or even your mum. Veggie chili for all? Here’s my 5-minute vegetarian chili recipe.
4. Batch cook
Healthy food can feel like a bigger task when you’re not used to the recipes. Rather than slave over the stove every night, cook once and eat twice.
It’s as easy as doubling up on ingredients; serve up half as dinner and pop the other half in Tupperware, before allowing it to cool, sealing it and refrigerating it. Simple.
This is an easy way to prep your food, and prevents a marathon late-night cooking session and the cleaning aftermath.
5. Invest in an adult lunchbox
We all know the paranoia of a leaky lunchbox and the aftermath of a smelly salad juice in your bag for days. How about you #TreatYoSelf to a good lunch box that you won’t need to replace by the end of the month.
You can buy really good bento boxes now with different compartments, or old-fashioned stainless steel boxes, or alternatively layer it all inside a mason jar and pour it into a bowl when you get to work (It looks much fancier than it actually is and you will feel super smug whipping it out in the office).
Struggling to eat healthily around your jam-packed diary? Add these healthy foods to your shopping list or try the easy Weight Watchers Flex plan.