Sometimes, a giant leap towards a healthier, happier life is necessary. Other times, small shifts can get you to the same place with a lower risk of failure.
National Nutrition Month is about making small changes. Huge steps towards a healthier and happier life may be overwhelming and lead to unsustainable changes. However, making small steps is more likely to result in successful weight loss or gain and a more sustainable healthier lifestyle. Whatever your nutrition or health goals may be, sit down, write out the steps, and make them happen.
One small step to take in “putting your best fork forward” is focusing on meal preparation. Meal prepping can help eliminate poor decisions made on a time crunched weekday night, reduce the amount you may spend on food, and save you time throughout the week to focus on yourself, your family, and your health.
Where to begin?
- Food must be acquired. Gather coupons and sales ads. Make a list of items you and your family normally consumes or may want to try.
- Using the coupons and sales ads, plan your meals according to your budget.
When planning meals, use the MyPlate approach to make sure you are eating a variety of all food groups! Check out this link for more information on MyPlate: http://www.eatright.org/
resource/food/nutrition/ dietary-guidelines-and- myplate/feed-your-body-right
Fill your list with food that will maximize nutrition: nutrient-rich produce, low-fat dairy, lean protein and whole grains.
If possible, prepare meals with similar ingredients in various recipes to keep your list from growing long and your budget expanding.
- Head to the store.
Do not go hungry! Eat a snack before shopping that includes protein, such as a turkey roll-up, cheese, or almonds.
Read nutrition labels. Be sure to note serving sizes! Check out this link for more helpful hints on how to read the Nutrition Facts Panel: http://www.eatright.org/
resource/food/nutrition/ nutrition-facts-and-food- labels/the-basics-of-the- nutrition-facts-panel.
- When you are ready to do your meal prep, preheat the oven while you prepare necessary items or gather needed appliances. Invest in a good set of plastic or glass storage containers to store all your meals when they are completed. Then, get to work and stick to your plan!
- When the cooking is done, refrigerate or freeze meals . Despite popular belief, putting hot food in the refrigerator does not harm the appliance; although, hot food will cool faster if it is divided into smaller containers.
Looking for more tips on meal prep, grocery shopping, or healthy eating? Head over to eatright.org for more information: http://www.eatright.org/
By: Lindsay Howell, MS, RD