I have a confession to make, I love to eat. I really, really do.
I believe that for us as spiritual beings living a human experience, eating is one of the most rewarding, exciting things we can do in our life. I honor the experience of nurturing my body through food – I find it exciting that I can get more energy, be healthier and be more active through the foods I consume.
Having said that, I’m always on the go running around for the kids while also having a full-time job – so I haven’t really had the time to get serious about learning how to cook well.
My cooking skills are rather “beginner” to say the least.
If you are like me, then you will understand that it’s quite a challenge to try and maintain a “healthy” diet through all this chaos. How do I find the time to juggle this and being in the kitchen too?
I will definitely learn how to cook better and more efficiently one day, but until then, I knew I had to step up when it came to healthy eating.
Since I didn’t have the time to delve into learning how to prepare healthy meals, I had to hack the process. So I started with small steps to get a routine and lifestyle in order.
These are some of the strategies you can use too when it comes to hacking your diet which helped me – without stressing you out too much or needing you to make big changes to your regular daily routines and tasks.
1. Go Nuts
Say goodbye to crackers and chips (yes even the organic or “healthy” labelled ones) and give a warm welcome to nuts and fruits. While “on-the-go” packaged food can be very convenient, but honestly they’re not really very healthy to have. No matter what the label says. There is usually some kind of processing involved which means these products do have some sort of chemical in them. Yes, things like emulsifier and food conditioner are chemicals. Are you sure you want to put that in your body?
Nuts are packed with protein, fibre and essential fats, and are your best bet when you need to recharge your energy (choose unsalted!). You can buy them at any grocery store and they’re easy to carry with you if you’re always on the go.
There are also lots of options to choose from – so pick your favorites and create your own mix. I carry mine in little airtight containers and snack on these whenever I’m peckish. You can also take it up a notch and make your own healthy nut energy bars. See this 5-minute recipe by Veena.
Fruits are also a good option and have vitamins and essential nutrients for our body – I know fruits can be loaded with sugar but the sugar contained in fruits is still healthier than anything else so don’t worry too much about that, just don’t go overboard.
My suggestion is to stick to 2 servings of fruits a day. You can have them sliced or mixed with nuts and/or yogurt (yummy for breakfasts and desserts!). Tip: Bananas are very nutrient packed and you can sneak these in your handbag. And here are 25 powerful reasons you should eat more bananas.
2. Plan In Advance
I used to live “day by day” and wouldn’t focus on tomorrow. I lived in the moment – which is great for a sense of adventure but not very good for healthy living if you’re juggling many tasks (and raising children).
So sit down, grab a pen and paper, and start to think about meals or snacks you’d like during the week, write it down, and shop accordingly.
Anything for later in the week can be stored in the freezer if you don’t want it to go bad and wasted. Also prepare quick snacks like cherry tomatoes, baby carrots and sliced cucumbers and celery so you can grab them when you’re in a hurry or need a quick bite.
If you need variety in how you eat your foods, explore how you can put you dishes together in different ways. For example, I love zucchinis (like LOVE). But I can’t eat them the same way all the time. So sometimes I cut them in slices, put some sea salt and pepper over them, and then I quickly grill them in the oven. Then I pair these with the meat of the day. On some days, I mix my grilled zucchinis with brown rice to capture a different flavor.
So explore your options and your imagination for different ways to put something together, and when in doubt, Google it.
3. Spice It Up
Spices are a palate’s power punch (think about the strong flavors of Indian food, for instance!). Do not be afraid to use them. Spices contain an impressive list of phyto-nutrients, essential oils, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that are essential for overall wellness. Plus, using herbs and spices expands your palate without adding any extra calories. By adding these, there’s a high chance you’ll end up decreasing the amount of salt, fat, and sugar in your meals, without sacrificing flavor.
There are many options to choose from.
My favorite spices: garlic (with anything!), oregano (love them in scrambled eggs), coriander (gives any food an “Asian” touch for those cravings) and ginger (in teas and fresh lemonades). Here’s a quick read on the general spices and their benefits.
4. Skip The Fizz
Stick to water. Water is your best friend – it helps keep the body well-hydrated, which is essential because almost every cell in the body needs water to function properly. Drinking enough water on a daily basis improves mood and health levels overall, flushes away toxins, aids in weight loss and even enhances the quality of your skin!
Also, did you know that sometimes when you think you’re hungry and you reach for a snack, you’re actually thirsty but you don’t realize it? Apparently when your body needs water, it receives mixed signals on hunger. Basically, dehydration cause you to believe you need food when what you actually need is water instead. So you may be overeating for all the wrong reasons! Always try to keep track of what you eat and drink. This will help you better understand what your daily intake needs for food and water are.
Make your water consumption a little bit more exciting by adding slices of lemon (I love mine with warm water first thing in the morning), orange, strawberry, cucumber, celery, or ginger.
5. A Salad A Day…
You can’t go wrong eating your greens! Salads composed from even a few ingredients make a nutrient-rich meal. The greens alone have calcium, iron, potassium and B vitamins. Many salad basics, including tomatoes, sweet peppers and the greens, are chock-full of antioxidants. Plus they are high in fiber, low in calories, easy to make (anyone can toss a salad, right?) and you can have a different one each day.
Beware of those dressings though! That’s where hidden calories lie, especially in restaurants. So if you’re eating out either skip the dressing, or ask for it on the side and add as little as you need. You can also just opt to have some olive oil drizzled over it. If you’re making your salads at home, there are many healthy basic dressings as simple as lemon juice, olive oil, pepper and garlic.
Do you have any healthy eating hacks to share? Feel free to add to this list!