Eating healthy always seems like a good idea — actually doing it is a different story. When you’re busy and life gets in the way, eating well can fall by the way side.
Many of us often reach for whatever food is quickly available. Fast or prepackaged foods may be the easiest way to get a meal in the table, but they are often loaded with a lot of calories, fat, sodium and sugar.
With a little planning, healthy foods can become a quick and easy part of your daily routine. Read members’ tips on how to plan to conveniently eat well for better health.
Please note that the following tips from members do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Blue Cross and Blue Shield. These tips are intended as general information only. Please consult your physician for specific advice.
Here are my tips for healthy eating:
- Use a nutrition tracker. If you don’t track what you are eating, you don’t know exactly what your intake is.
- Get rid of trigger foods in your kitchen. If they aren’t there, you can’t eat them.
- Consider meal prepping. A few hours on the weekend preparing a week’s worth of meals will save you tons of time during the week, and it will make it easier to grab a healthy meal.
- I thought I didn’t like vegetables, but I just don’t like canned veggies. I LOVE fresh veggies. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
- Give yourself some grace. There will be meals were the food choices are out of your control. Do your best and move on. Don’t let one meal choice derail you. Don’t waste energy playing that guilt cycle game with yourself. Stuff happens.
- Keep on keeping on. Don’t give up.
— Elizabeth C.
If you start some intense diet where you have to cut out a bunch of stuff and watch everything you eat, you’ll never keep up with it, and you’ll put on more weight.
You do need to make some changes, but don’t get too crazy with it. Stock up on fruits and vegetables. Always have some in cans or frozen. That way you are ready every day, even if you haven’t gone grocery shopping in a while.
Don’t buy foods that you know you’ll have no self-control with. I don’t keep any snacks in my house except fruit, veggies and snack bars that are only for on the run. If you have temptations around you, it’s going to be easy to give in and then feel guilty about it.
Make sure you have at least one veggie with your dinner but aim for more. I keep frozen veggies at work so if I’m hungry midday, I go heat some up instead of eating unhealthy snacks. My go-tos are Brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and lima beans. I just steam them in the microwave and add some salt.
If you can’t keep food like that around, then hit up nuts instead. They are way better for you than chips.
If you notice that you’re hungry between meals, drink a glass of water and let 20 minutes pass. If you’re still hungry have a snack. Fruit is good to keep on hand.
Basically, you need make doable changes and not overhaul your life temporarily. If you give up on yourself and are too hard on yourself, you won’t reach your goals. Cut yourself some slack. You don’t have to be insanely strict, but try to stay around your goal.
— Valery L.
My healthy eating version of the 80/20 rule/strategy is to shoot for healthy eating 80 percent of the time, leaving 20 percent for some indulgences, exceptions or mistakes. I really do not like that word diet — especially as a verb.
Here are some more specific strategies I use to eat healthy:
- Include as many vegetables and fruits as possible in each day and meal. Determine your favorites and incorporate them frequently and in new ways.
- If you like salads, have them as often as you can. For lunch and/or dinner, eat them as an entree base, and eat them as a snack when possible.
- Increase fiber intake as much as possible. It can really help fill you up, curb your appetite and keep you feeling satisfied longer. Figure out which fiber-rich foods really appeal to you and build them in frequently (such as apples, oatmeal, beans/peas/lentils, sweet potatoes, avocado, beets, popcorn, potatoes and bananas).
- Soups are another filing, often fiber-rich way to help satisfy appetite with nutritious flavor.
- Eat a larger lunch than dinner, calories and carbs wise. An early dinner with a healthy moderate evening snack can be helpful for curbing snacking in general.
When you can pull together a few strategies to employ frequently, you can find some real success.
— Lisa L.
I’m a 61-year-old woman who has lost 30 pounds within one year through diet and exercise.
I eat lots of vegetables, lean meats, fruits and healthy grains (not too much carbohydrates). I have lunch or dinner with friends who eat more like I do. Before and after exercise class, I eat Greek yogurt or protein drinks to retain and help my muscles.
— Rose K.
In the last 4 months, I have lost 20 pounds, mostly due to the change in my eating habits. I realized I needed to make a huge correction in my life. I added a dense nutrition protein shake to my diet. It filled in the gaps in my nutrition and curbed my craving for the sweets and carbs.
Next, I started my new eating plan (not a diet): “Eating the Rainbow.” The more color you have in your diet the better. This applies to fruits, veggies and lean proteins. The colors tie into the nutritional value. By mixing up the colors and the preparations, I can keep the food exciting and interesting.
Another important piece to this puzzle is prepping food on the weekend so you can stay on point during the week. I cook up my meats and veggies on Sunday night, pack them in the proper sized containers, and set them in the fridge so they are easy to grab in the morning.
When I eat at a restaurant, I order my protein and double veggies. That way I am not eating the unwanted carbs just because they are on my plate. The best part is that through all of this I do not feel deprived. If I am really craving something, I will allow myself a treat occasionally, which used to be about once every other week. However, now that I have not been eating those foods, I am finding that I have lost the taste for them. Just remember, eat the rainbow. You’ll feel better!
— Holly P.
Preparation is the key for our family. To maintain a healthy diet, I make sure the food my family wants to eat is available. So each Sunday, I prep the food we will eat for the week. At a minimum, four meals will be made and something from the meal will be leftover to assist the meal the following night. I’m able to add a potato, steamed vegetables and salad for a healthy meal.
I also make sure that fruits and vegetables are washed, cut and placed in to-go containers on Sundays. My kids can eat them for a snack or put them in their lunches. I also have peanut butter and ranch dressing in small containers for dipping.
The bonus? Prep time turns in to family time, and each member of the family participates in creating the grocery list so everyone is happy at mealtime.
— Michelle S.
Sources: Meal Prep: A Helpful Healthy Eating Strategy, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, March 20, 2017; Meal Prep Made Easy: 6 Basic Steps to Healthy Eating; Medical Daily, April 12, 2016; Your Meal Prep Guide to a Quick and Healthy Breakfast, Eat This, Not That!, Jan. 12, 2017; Healthy Make-Ahead Dinner Recipes, EatingWell