While I make an effort to eat healthy as often as possible, I have an immediate negative reaction to the term "diet." To me, it implies restriction and sounds like a total joy-kill. Every time I've tried restricting what I eat—you may remember my effort to not have any candy or alcohol during the week last year—it rarely lasts. What does work is making little adjustments at the beginning of a week to start off on the right foot. It's useful to think of healthy choices in terms of momentum—and as long as I hit the ground running on Sunday or Monday, I'm far more likely to maintain healthy habits throughout the week. Here are 10 tips for getting your week off on the right foot:
Whenever possible, G and I make a batch of quinoa or farro and roasted vegetables during the weekend to have on hand to supplement dinners. While it isn't extensive meal-planning, it can mean the difference between a sad dinner and a fulfilling meal.
Meal prepping isn't always a possibility, but I still make an effort to at least map out a game plan with a rough idea of recipes. Even if we end up eating something else, we can rely on the list so that we don't get hit by "decision fatigue" and end up with a sub-par option.
The produce you'll find at a farmers market is almost always fresher, so it's also much more appealing. I find that I'm far more likely to include fruits and vegetables in my diet after a large farmers market haul (instead of being tempted by tons of packaged snacks at the store).
Each week, Geoffrey and I purchase a rotisserie chicken and several dips from a hummus vendor at the farmers market. Most of the time, we use it to supplement Sloan's dinners, but it also comes in handy when we're feeling too lazy to cook. Instead of ordering in or "cooking" a box of mac n' cheese, we can make a hummus, vegetable, and chicken plate, which is far from glamorous, but it's healthy and easy.
Our freezer is always stocked with salmon, chicken, and frozen vegetables so that dinner prep is as easy as defrosting and cooking.
One of the greatest obstacles in deciding what to cook is finding a recipe, so G and I have each memorized a few go-to recipes we can whip up at a moment's notice. Roasted shrimp and orzo, Lentil and Beet Salad, and Mark Bittman's savory pancakes are a few favorites!
I'm sure this isn't the first time you've heard this tip, but it's for a reason! Almost anything you make yourself will be healthier than the restaurant alternatives (especially since our office happens to be across the street from a fantastic pizza spot). As often as possible, make extra dinner to pack for leftovers and bring to the office the next day—even if it's a homemade pizza or sandwich, chances are it will be healthier, not to mention more affordable.
On occasion, I find it helpful to write down what I eat. Each time I've documented my diet (here and here), it's opened my eyes to how much sugar I've eaten (always far more than I realized!) or how much I've eaten out in a week. It doesn't mean I need to necessarily change up my entire diet and restrict sugar or restaurant visits, but it helps to have a general awareness of my less-than-ideal choices.
Geoffrey and I have a membership to InstaCart that we find invaluable in our busy lives as parents and business owners. Aside from the research that suggests spending money on time-saving services, like delivery, may reduce stress and improve happiness, it also means we can still eat fresh food when we don't have time to stop at the grocery store or farmers market.
Snacks are some of the unhealthiest foods I eat, mostly because it's so easy to reach for a bag of Goldfish or candy. Lately, I've started preparing a large container of rinsed and cut-up vegetables on Sunday so that I can reach for it during the week. While I initially assumed it wouldn't be as satisfying—or as fun—as a packaged snack, I've barely noticed a difference. It turns out, it wasn't the sodium or sugar I was craving in packaged snacks, but the ease! Having prepared vegetables on hand levels the playing field (which isn't to say I don't still reach for a bag of chips once in a while!).