Eating healthy actually looks fun on social media, with everyone seemingly having the time to craft beautiful acai bowls and green smoothies. But the reality, for most of us, is a lot less glamorous. When you work full-time or have a slew of things on your plate, prepping for a healthy day can seem overwhelming or downright impossible.
If you’re like me and you’ve got an ever-growing to-do list, but value your (and your family’s) health and well-being, there are a few tips that can help you give your body what it needs all week long — without compromising the joy of eating. Read on for our healthy-week guide that will save you money, time, and stress.
Have a prep day.
Eating healthy is about being organized. The last thing you want is to be caught hungry without something nutritious to grab — those hunger hormones can make us reach for all the wrong things! So, you should set aside adequate time one day to prepare yourself for the coming week. You will decide what the weekly menu will be, take stock of ingredients you already have, and purchase whatever else you need.
Once you have everything you need, aim to cook for about half the week, then prep for the other half by chopping veggies or seasoning meats so you can easily throw meals together. It may seem like a lot at first, but this will actually help you save money and time in the long term. And once you get into a groove, it can be fun! As you search your kitchen each week, you will also be inspired to try different recipes. Which brings me to my next point…
Change it up.
A lot of times, healthy eating becomes an unsustainable habit because we get bored. We derive a lot of joy from our food, culturally and personally, so sometimes eating the same things over and over again can rob the pleasure of it. Tasting the same tastes and smelling the same smells gets old. Food isn’t something that should be joyless, and eating healthy doesn’t have to mean bland and boring.
When thinking about your meals for the week, make sure you’re mixing flavors and textures and not getting too much into a routine of eating the same thing every day. If your go-to healthy carb is usually brown rice, try wild rice, quinoa, or barley. If eggs are your usual breakfast, try an overnight oat or chia pudding recipe instead — they’re just as easy to make. Variety and fun will help you stick to your goals!
Try new things.
A fun practice I’ve adopted is to try one new funky healthy recipe each week. Some of them turn out terribly and I end up ordering take out. Other times I am pleasantly surprised (and impressed with myself) – and I have another tasty dish to add to my menu! Getting healthier often means expanding your palette to include new tastes and textures, so do your best to keep an open mind.
And if there were things you loved that you’re trying to give up, try replacing them with healthy alternatives. For example, if you’re a morning caramel latte type of person, maybe go for a coconut milk matcha! Coconut milk is loaded with healthy fats, and have you heard that drinking tea is great for your brain? Try searching the internet for “healthy alternative for [your favorite food]” and you’re bound to find ideas to try!
Utilize your freezer.
This is a big one. The live nutrients in our food start to die once we cook it if it’s not preserved, so I don’t love the idea of cooking everything and letting it sit in the fridge for a whole week. Think about healthy foods you can store in the freezer for easy weeknight preparation, as freezing the food will help to preserve the nutrients for longer!
Marinate some fish or meat and store in freezer bags, then take them out to thaw in the morning during the week. When you get home, simply pop them in the oven and you’re done! You can also cook things like stews, soups, and curries on your prep day and freeze, then thaw midweek for easy, delicious meals. I like to do this with curried red lentils for protein-and-fiber-rich dinners and packed lunches!
Take advantage of frozen vegetables, too. Frozen vegetables are a great option for easy weeknight prep since you don’t typically have to do much to make them and can keep them longer than fresh produce. Opt for vegetable medleys to increase the nutrient content of your meals. A great rule for plant-based healthy eating is to load your plate with colors!
Plan to hydrate.
When we’re on a mission to clean up our diets, we sometimes forget one of the most important aspects of our health: hydration. Without enough water, we can’t eliminate toxins and waste properly, and the balance of minerals in our bodies becomes disrupted and impairs its functioning.
Just as much as you’ll need to focus on eating healthy foods, you need to make sure you’re staying hydrated, and the morning is perhaps the most crucial time! Within an hour of waking up, drink two cups of warm water (add lemon if desired!). This one simple habit helps to turn on digestion and wake the body up!
Throughout the day, aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water. Keep a large water bottle at your desk and set a reminder to drink a cup every couple of hours. Keep in mind, if you work out, you’ll need to drink even more than this! And if regular water is too boring, try infusing your H20 with fruits like berries, lemon, or lime, or adding herbs like mint.
Wishing you a healthy, happy week ahead!