I wish I could tell you that if you just drank 6 ounces of a supplement every day, you’d be at your goal weight, immune to infections, and feel energized. Unfortunately, that magical cure hasn’t been discovered yet. The closest thing we have is the dreaded advice to eat healthy foods and get some exercise (and while I’m at it, floss your teeth and look away from your screens).
Please stop booing me!
I also want to acknowledge that equity doesn’t currently exist. We don’t all have the same access to markets full of perfectly shaped fruits and veggies and time to make our own yogurt, grow our own vegetables, or even make dinner from scratch. We aren’t all in perfect mental or physical health and making all the healthiest choices in the world won’t change that.
And we’re all doing the best we can while living through a global pandemic and need to give ourselves credit for the challenge we’re facing every day. The very best advice I can give you is to prioritize getting through the day. Don’t stress about making perfect meals or doing an hour-long workout.
If you want to turn it up a bit, here are 25 ways to eat a little healthier. Pick what feels right to you. Don’t attempt them all immediately.
No time at all
- Put a glass of water on your nightstand and drink it before you get out of bed in the morning.
- Eat one meal without electronic distractions. Too much? Start with eating one snack without electronic distraction.
- Use the salad plates instead of dinner plates.
- Skip labels like good, bad, junk, or unhealthy.
- If you’re hungry, eat something.
- If it’s bothering you, turn off your food tracking app.
- Have a small handful of (unsalted, unsweetened) nuts and/or seeds most days.
- Use less cheese than the recipe calls for.
A little effort
- Enjoy whole grain bread, crackers, pasta, cereal, and tortillas.
- Know that every bite counts. Even adding a few lettuce leaves or a tomato slice to a sandwich (or not picking them off).
- Add some spinach to your pasta sauce (frozen, fresh and canned all work!)
- Swap prepared breakfast sandwiches for an egg and veggie casserole. Make it once a week and cut a piece each morning.
- Turn your meal into a salad. Instead of a taco with fried shell, serve your taco filling over a bed of lettuce. You can even make a Big Mac into a salad!
- Swap butter and Crisco for heart-healthy cooking oils like olive oil or avocado oil.
- Steam grill, or bake instead of frying.
- Use beans or fish instead of red meat in one meal a week.
- Cook pasta only to al dente. Cooking longer increases the glycemic index.
- Season with herbs and spices and a little less salt.
- Instead of drinking juice, eat a piece of whole fruit.
- Eat a fruit or vegetable at every meal. That will help with micronutrient absorption.
If you have time for more
- Buy plain, unsweetened yogurt and add your own fruit and homemade granola toppings.
- Cook one more meal at home each week than you did the week before.
- Cook with a new ingredient every week.
- Read the labels for pasta sauce, salad dressing, nut butter, and alternative milks at the grocery store. See if you can find one with no added sugar.
- Cook with local, in-season ingredients.
- Order a farm box or produce delivery. Map your meal plan around those items.
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