New York Times bestselling author, Andie Mitchell will help you maintain your New Year resolution with these 6 ways to eat healthy!
Beginning a new year gives us a chance to start fresh. Even if waking up on January 1st isn’t quite the same as wiping the slate clean and starting over, it sure feels like it. And even if the resolutions we set out to conquer aren’t always as easy or manageable as we’d imagined, sometimes having hope feels good, doesn’t it? Just the act of trying to improve can be fulfilling and at times, show us results we didn’t expect.
This year, healthy eating will no doubt top many resolution lists. Having spent more years than I can count with resolutions to lose weight and eat better–both before and after losing 135 pounds, I have lots of advice in the healthy eating department. But before you start you have to set yourself up for success. Stock your fridge and pantry with wholesome, real foods. Buy the tools you need to (easily!) prepare healthy meals–like a lifesaving food processor, a good sharp knife, extra measuring cups so you’re not stuck when the ones you used at breakfast are dirty and in the dishwasher when you need them at dinnertime, or even a few sturdy cutting board
I was lucky enough to team up with Tuesday Morning, one of my favorite stores for everything home and kitchen, to stock up on some of those very tools (and all brand name kitchenware at Tuesday morning is about half the price of other places!) and share my 6 best tips for eating healthier in 2016!
1. Measure your portions
Portion control is a fundamental part of eating healthier. Spending some time pulling out the measuring cups, measuring spoons, and maybe even the food scale, can be not only eye opening but extremely helpful in staying mindful and combatting overeating. It’s all too easy to consume a handful of this or a heaping scoop of that–and once we’ve gotten comfortable in our healthy lifestyles, it’s even easier to let portions slowly creep up from 2 tablespoons of peanut butter to 2 heaping tablespoons of peanut butter. Take a week or two and recommit to getting back to basics.
2. Cut out the Sugar Drinks
Eliminating sugary soda and juice is one of the best things you can do for your health. These kinds of drinks add unnecessary calories and provide little nutrition (unless you’re drinking a fresh pressed green juice, in which case, drink up!). Make the switch to water if you haven’t already, or at least work on adding more water to your day.
You can add fresh fruit to your water to make it taste a little sweeter or even feel spa-like (think cucumber slices), or, if you still crave the bubbly effect of soda, try sparkling water (also called seltzer or club soda) with lemon or lime slices. To save myself from buying yet another bottle of seltzer, I bought a Cuisinart Sparkling Beverage Maker for $19.99!
3. Meal Prep
We’ve all been the person who just can’t bring herself to make dinner after work–no matter how much chicken is in the fridge. Even with the best of intentions, the reality is, exhaustion increases the likelihood of making less-than-optimal decisions and also decreases our ability to use our willpower. After a long day at work, cooking a meal from scratch often just seems like more work. So do some prep ahead of time to make life easier and ensure you’re not tempted to call for delivery.
Chop your vegetables, hard boil some eggs, marinate your meat, make a salad. Anything you can do to save time after a busy day will be a huge help.
A food processor, like the KitchenAid 7-cup Food Processor I recently bought, makes prepping meals and snacks so easy. I can chop veggies, make hummus, nut butters, pesto, make homemade bread crumbs from stale whole wheat bread, and about a million other things. Pro tip: finely grate veggies (onion, bell pepper, carrot, zucchini) to add to lean meats like turkey burgers, meatballs, or even sneak some into crumbled taco meat, to add volume and keep the meat moist, too!
4. Embrace the Slow Cooker
One of the best ways to save time is to use a slow cooker. Put your entire meal in the slow cooker before work, and when you get home there will be a hot, delicious meal waiting for you. There are loads of delicious recipes available online, but here are 3 essentials for everyday healthy eating:
Make oatmeal: Coat the bottom and sides of your slow cooker with cooking spray, then add 1 cup steel-cut oats, 4 cups water, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir, cover, and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. To serve, add mix-ins like cinnamon, nuts, and dried or fresh fruit. Makes 4 1-cup servings.
Make a whole chicken: Cut up a large onion and scatter it on the bottom of your slow cooker. Season a 3- or 4-pound whole roasting chicken all over with salt, pepper, and any herbs and spices you like and place it, breast-side-down, on top of the onion. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. The chicken will be fall-apart tender when done.
Make easy shredded chicken (for salads, sandwiches, dinners, casseroles…): In the base of your slow cooker, combine 1 to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts with 1 cup water or chicken broth and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours. Shred using two forks.
I bought a Cuisinart Programmable 4-quart Slow Cooker and it has a 24-hour LCD countdown timer (to ensure nothing will ever over- or under-cook) and high, low, simmer, and automatic warm modes. The pot, lid, and metal rack are dishwasher safe and bpa-free. Speaking of that metal rack, here’s why it’s so fantastic: it lets you “bake” potatoes, cook smaller dishes like ramekins, and can help you elevate meat that you don’t want sitting directly in liquid (like a whole chicken, for instance).
5. Pack Your Lunch and Snacks
Eating out everyday can make it incredibly hard to always make healthy decisions. Most restaurant and take out food is packed with added calories, and sometimes even the seemingly healthy options have unnecessary sugar and oils added to them.
Bring your own food so that you know exactly what you’re consuming and also to help you avoid temptation. You can pack a healthy and nutritious lunch along with snacks to keep you satisfied and happy throughout the day. Bonus: this will do wonders for your bank account.
6. Keep a Food Journal
Often, we eat a lot more than we realize. We might not realize we grabbed a bite of something, a second helping at dinner, or we might conveniently forget about eating half of a doughnut mid-morning. A food diary will allow you to track your food and hold yourself accountable. Take a few minutes each day to record everything you eat. This will help you be mindful of what you are putting into your body and will show you where you can make adjustments, what times of day you might find yourself struggling, or even recognize patterns. The key is to keep at it for at least a week so you have an accurate idea of what you’re eating.
Items I picked up at Tuesday Morning: Core Kitchen Grip Back Cutting Mats (set of 4) $9.99 (compare at $19.60), Misto Oil Sprayer $6.99 (compare at $12.99), Gourmet Club Neoprene Oven Mitt and Pot Holder $4.99 (compare at $9.99), David Burke Nonstick 13×9-inch Baking Pan $7.99 (compare at $17.99), David Burke Nonstick Medium Cookie Sheet 15×10-inch $5.99 (compare at $16.99), KitchenAid 7-cup Food Processor $59.99 (compare at $99.99), Cuisinart Sparkling Beverage Maker $19.99 (compare at $79.95), Cuisinart Programmable 4-quart Slow Cooker $49.99 (compare at $80), Kitchen Collection 4-cup Glass Measuring Cup $3.99 (compare at $12.99), Oneida Square Pierced Server $3.99 (compare at $6.99), CorningWare French White 8-inch Square Baking Dish $14.99 (compare at $24.99)