HOW TO “HEALTHIFY” YOUR MEALS
Do you ever find yourself eating the same things over and over again? Or are you in a position where you travel all of the time or are time starved and have to grab and go with meals quite a bit? Eating healthy can seem like a hard task at times. Unhealthy options are lurking around every corner it seems like.
Food is not only delicious but it’s essential to life, energy, repair, muscle growth and just about every single process in the human body. Getting good food with high nutrient value is extremely important but it can become hard when bad food is all around us. We are what we absorb so it would only make sense to get as much as we can out of the food that we eat on a daily basis. Luckily, there are some really easy ways to make your meals healthier. So whether you’re traveling for business or on vacation or just don’t have a lot of time to stop in the day and order to eat a healthy meal, these tips might help you increase the quality of what you’re getting out of your meals.
5 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR MEALS HEALTHIER
ADD SOMETHING GREEN – Whether your meal is healthy or not, it’s always a good idea to add a side of some type of green vegetable. When you’re eating out or on the go, options tend to be carbohydrate heavy and usually don’t include green veggies. Burgers and fries, tacos, sandwiches, pizza and subs seem to be on the ready. So whether you’re just adding a side salad, topping a sandwich with as many green veggies as possible (lettuce, green pepper, spinach) or adding in a side of green beans, adding something green will add vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and more. And if you have no other choice, a green supplement like Amazing Grass might be something to consider.
Example: I was craving macaroni and cheese last week (Annie’s organic white cheddar and shells) but not only is that not nutritionally sound (all carb and fat) but it’s always feels somewhat like a led balloon in my stomach. And the worst part? After I eat a carb bomb like that, I’ll be hungry in an hour (insulin anyone?). Instead of just the mac and cheese, I added sautéed kale with garlic. So I ended up halving the amount of mac and cheese (pasta) and doubling the nutrient value by adding the kale.
PROTEIN BOOST – A lot of our meals today are so carbohydrate laden. They focus on carbs and fat… Meaning pasta and rice paired with cheesy sauces. Adding protein will help add that lean protein that you’ll need in order to repair, recover and it will also help maintain your satiety levels.
Example: I could have easily added chicken, shrimp or beef to the mac and cheese I was referring to above. Adding in 4 – 6 ounces of protein either in a dish or on the side will help balance out your meal and your hormones so you can maintain better levels (steady) of insulin and avoid the after meal crash.
In A Pinch: If you aren’t getting enough protein and you’re really in a pinch, drinking a protein supplement could help. They’re easy to take with you, travel with and don’t require refrigeration. This grass-fed whey protein powderis a fantastic go to when you need a protein boost.
FOCUS ON COLOR – Add color! Whether you add vegetables or fruit, adding all of the colors throughout the day will help you get all of the vitamins and minerals you need.
Colors + Examples of Foods In Those Categories:
Red – Peppers, tomatoes, chilis, apples, raspberries, strawberries, red potato
Green – Green leafy greens like kale, chard and spinach as well as green beans, zucchini, green peppers, broccoli, scallions, lime and so many more
Yellow – Yellow peppers, yellow squash, golden beets, lemon, yellow onion, pineapple
Purple – Beets, grapes, blueberries, blackberries, “red” onion, purple potato
Orange – Oranges, grapefruit, apricot, carrots
White – White onion, white potato, mushrooms, sprouts, jicama
SEEDS PLEASE – Seeds like sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and even Chia or flax seeds are a great addition to your meals. They boost the nutrient value plus the fiber content and in some cases even give you a plant based omega-3 dose (flax or chia). I love to sprinkle ground flax seeds on my salads or add them to oatmeal and yogurt. Chia seeds are fantastic in overnight chia pudding or added to yogurt. I like to add them to my protein shakes too. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are awesome on salads, protein shakes and even in some pasta dishes. Sesame seeds are wonderful in Asian dishes and salads as well. All seeds are easy to carry with you. They’re light, don’t take up much room and don’t need to be refrigerated.
GET YOUR PORTION SIZES IN CHECK – One of the best things you can do for yourself is to eat the correct portion sizes and know when you’re full. If you’re eating at home, portion control dish ware is a very helpful tool. Eating in the right portions will help you control your hunger, your blood sugar levels and maintain your weight (or help you lose weight if that’s your goal). If you don’t have portion control dishes or can’t carry them with you, using your hand is just as useful and you can use it to help you measure whether you’re at home, out to dinner at a restaurant or at a friend’s house. Here’s how:
Protein – Should be the size and thickness of the palm of your hand.
Vegetables – 1 – 2 clenched fists
Carbohydrates – 1 cupped palm
Fat – Size of your thumb
Everyone and every body is different so each person’s portions are unique to them. You may have to judge by your hunger levels to see if you’ve eaten too little or too much. If you’re still hungry a few hours after a meal, you probably didn’t eat enough. If you’re still very full 3 hours after a meal, you probably ate too much.
Try one tip at a time. Implement it into your eating routine to see how you feel and if it’s working for you. Journal your process to keep track of what’s working and what isn’t. While a lot of people don’t enjoy journaling, it can give you a ton of information about your true eating habits, what works for you and what might need tweaking. Try our Balanced Eating Journal.
Best of luck on your healthy eating journey!
Margot + The Vita Vie Retreat Team