Real Life Advice for Eating Well

In today’s busy world, it’s easy to lose touch with the real meaning of balanced eating. We’re constantly bombarded with so many extremes – from candy and cake overload at parties, to the unrealistic expectation that we must cook everything from scratch 100% of the time.

Where’s the middle ground? What does balance really look like? It doesn’t have to be difficult to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Here are 10 Tips I’ve Followed to Help Get You Started

Follow the 80/20 rule

Aim for 80 percent healthy choices, 20 percent indulgent –and work your way up to 90/10. That’s roughly one indulgent choice every other day! Totally doable, right?

Switch it up!

Don’t eat the same foods for each meal day after day. This is boring and doesn’t excite your taste buds. If you’re using leftovers to save time and prevent food waste, try to repurpose the old meal to make it into something new. For example, if you have leftover corn salad, add black beans and red peppers to make a black bean and corn salsa to spoon over tacos.

Go unconventional

Dinner doesn’t always have to be traditional. You’ve heard about breakfast for dinner, but what about assembling a few healthy snacks into a quick meal?

Great suggestions include cottage cheese and fruit with a side of whole grain crackers, served with a fruit-veggie smoothie; julienne style cucumber slices dipped in hummus; an open face turkey sandwich with lettuce, or even lettuce wraps filled with lean meats, cheese and served with a shredded carrot slaw. Being flexible and letting go of the traditional view of dinner can also stretch your groceries a few more nights.

Make healthy choices the easy ones

Keep easy grab-and-go foods on hand. Store snacks like apples and individual nut butter packets in your fridge and pantry to help you make the healthy choice when you’re in a rush. Other easy options include hardboiled eggs, cheese sticks, sliced veggies, trail mix packets and pre-washed fruit. Check out these 50 healthy snack ideas your kids will love.

Be strategic with meal prep

Find easy-to-prepare, healthy recipes you love. For breakfast, try overnight oats to cut back on prep time, but still have a healthy and hearty option to start the day. For lunch, pre-chop veggies and salad add-ins like olives, nuts, and beans to have an on-demand salad bar ready to go. For dinner, prepare a large meal one night each week (like soup, chili, lasagna, or a casserole) and freeze half to serve the following week.

Don’t keep sweets on hand

It will be easier to resist the cravings for unhealthy foods if they aren’t in front of you. Instead, keep healthy desserts around, such as frozen cherries, which taste great slightly defrosted, or 80% dark chocolate, which is rich-tasting and full of antioxidants.

When a sweets craving hits, you’ll go for these instead of going out to get an unhealthy option. These healthy and delicious treats will often satisfy your cravings without adding empty calories.

Be smart about portions

If you do have a dessert, stick to one serving. You’ll be most satisfied from the first few bites anyways, so savor a small portion and really enjoy what you’re eating instead of over indulging.

Watch for added sugars

The World Health Organization recommends no more than 10% of your daily calories come from added sugars. Keep in mind that sugars hide in many processed foods, including ketchup, salad dressing, and yogurt.

One serving of ice cream can have the same amount of sugar as these “healthy” foods combined: 1 yogurt at breakfast, coffee with 1 sugar cube, and 2 tablespoons of salad dressing.

Be a role model

Rather than just going with the status quo, shake things up at school parties or sporting events. Instead of bringing Gatorade, bring a cooler of fruit-infused water. Instead of chips or candy, bring sliced watermelon or a healthy kind of granola bar. Think whole foods, rather than highly processed options. You may inspire other moms to do the same!

Keep it fun!

When trying to teach your kids healthy eating and lifestyle habits, make it fun! Rather than focusing on things you shouldn’t eat or do, focus on all the wonderful healthy activities and delicious healthy foods you can enjoy.

Plan a day at the park where you play games as a family, rather than watching TV. Take a trip to a local farm and have your kids pick out fresh food to include with dinner. With so many fun activities going on, your family won’t even be thinking about their old habits!

It’s NOT All or Nothing

To achieve balance you’ve got to be realistic. Don’t try to make too many changes at once. Commit to just one or two ideas above this week and plan out how you’re going to make them happen. With each small step you’ll be closer to achieving a healthy balance.

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