natural living for normal people

6 easy healthy eating tips

Our speaker at our last MOPS meeting was a naturopathic doctor, and she talked about healthy living, especially related to what we eat and what we feed our kids. During our table discussion, I shared some of the healthy eating habits we’ve incorporated in our house over the years, and the other women at my table were so interested in those habits that I thought it might be good information to share here.

I wish I could credit all of these ideas because I know I didn’t think of a single one on my own, but they’re the result of lots of different books and conversations, so it’s impossible to do so. The one source I can remember specifically is Food Rules by Michael Pollan, which is so short and enjoyable to read that you should do so right away. It’s great!

1. Start the day hydrated I don’t know why it’s so difficult for me to drink enough water during the day, but it’s a struggle. I think part of the problem is that I don’t like cold beverages, and we use the filtered water from the fridge, so it’s always cold. My solution has been filling up a gigantic Tervis tumbler at night and leaving it on the counter so it’s room temp the next day. I also love to start the day with a huge mug of warm water and lemon.

2. Use apps to help motivate you I like the iHydrate app for tracking water and the MyPlate app for food. I haven’t tracked food much since I was pregnant (I had to track protein to make sure I was getting enough), but I like the setup of MyPlate and how it memorizes meals so you can add them easily. The only way I get anything done is by tracking it—that’s why I swear Goodreads┬ámakes me read more books—so these apps are great for helping me pay attention.

3. “Free” vegetable stock This was the tip I shared that excited people the most. Keep a bag or container in your freezer. Every time you cut up vegetables, put the peels, ends, etc., in the bag and freeze them. If you have greens that are about to turn and you can’t eat them quickly enough, add them before they’re slimy. If you use fresh herbs, add the stems. Once the bag or container is full, dump the frozen stuff into a pot, fill with water, boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for an hour or so. Healthy, homemade vegetable stock, and it’s FREE!

4. Use that stock in place of water When it makes sense, use that free veggie stock in place of water while cooking. I add it to soups and stews, and we even make our rice with it instead of water. It sneaks in an extra bit of vegetable goodness.

5. Add an hour to your estimated grocery time Stay with me here! I know how hard it is just to get to and from the grocery store, much less add time. And I don’t mean add time in the store; add time at home.

Start off just by adding 15 minutes of meal prep time before you shop. Plan meals based on what’s on sale at your store and you’ll save money, too. Make a list and stick to it. This will save you from wandering around aimlessly, eyeing those Hostess cupcakes.

When you get home, add another 15 minutes of food prep. Cut up a pineapple and a cucumber. Fill small containers with almonds and walnuts so they’re easy to grab on the go—little things like that.

Eventually, work your way up to doing healthy food prep that works for your family. In my head, I tell myself I need 15 minutes of meal planning / list making, 20 minutes at the grocery, and 45 minutes when I get home. During those 45 minutes, I hard-boil a bunch of eggs, cook frozen edamame, cut up a cucumber and some fresh fruit, and wash all the produce we’ll use that week. The eggs, edamame, cucumber, and fruit help me out during those moments of putting the toddler in the highchair but not yet having actual food ready to serve him. Instead of having only Cheerios in my arsenal, I have a few options. Taking care of that food prep in one fell swoop makes a huge difference for me for the rest of the week.

6. Consider your regular meals and swap out items Don’t reinvent the wheel. I think sometimes being too gung-ho can work against us, and if you normally have a turkey sandwich, chips, and a Coke for lunch and suddenly decide to eat quinoa and kale, you’re probably going to have a hard time. Try swapping out chips for cucumber slices. Switch from a 20 oz. Coke to the small cans or only drink one on Fridays so it feels like a treat. Swap out white rice for brown. Make tiny moves in the right direction, and you’ll be surprised where you are in 6 months.

Okay, what did I miss? What are your favorite healthy eating tips?

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