1. Plan a strategy
It's pretty widespread knowledge by now that in America we need to reduce salt, sugar, trans and saturated fats and portion sizes, and increase fruit, veggie and fiber consumption. Utilize this knowledge and figure out what you like to eat that is healthy (low in sugar, salt and fat, high in fruits and veggies) and plan out your meals for the week. Put the weekly menu on the wall in your kitchen or on your fridge so that you can scratch off easy-to-make dishes as they are made and used up.
2. Research Recipes
There's a plethora of resources online and in books that will show you how to whip up fast, easy and healthy meals and treats. Do an online search for "easy and fast recipes" with only a few ingredients to cut down on prep time. Make sure that the recipes do not include a lot of sugar, salt and saturated fat and that they use vegetables and fruits that you like.
3. Start Using Your Kitchen
Your kitchen can be a nutritional powerhouse and a fountain of health and wellness for you and your whole family. Start weaning off the sodas, donuts, pastries and cookies and start stockpiling your kitchen with tasty and healthy treats like organic protein bars, naturally unsalted popcorn, totally fruit rollups and peppermint green tea bags. Great time-saving tools like a simple food processor to quickly chop veggies and a strong blender to make those yummy frozen fruit and kale smoothies will be a great investment.
4. Shop the Grocery Store Strategically
Chances are the foods most lacking in your diet (as with most Americans) are fruits and veggies. Thank goodness food manufacturers are now offering those bags of pre-cut organic and conventional carrots, celery, broccoli and more in most stores! Grab several and place them in plain sight in your refrigerator. Placed in the door of the fridge, kids will find themselves nibbling on carrots and snap peas when waiting for dinner and with broccoli right there on the top shelf, it will be easy to remember to throw it into that stir-fry.
5. Utilize Leftovers
Put extra servings of that fabulous spinach lasagna or black bean enchiladas into Tupperware-type containers that you can grab with some cut up veggies (remember, the ones that are in your fridge door?) as you run out to work tomorrow morning.
6. Don't Fear the Restaurant
Sooner or later it's going to happen - you'll eat at a restaurant. Two great tips: eat a salad as a main entrée with a protein such as a veggie patty or salmon, and order meals and salads with little to no cheese, dressings on the side. Also, several sides of vegetables can be eaten with a lean protein selection as a main dish. If a large dish is ordered, half can be shared or taken home.
7. Keep Snacks in your car
Have a cooler or insulated lunch bag in your car at all times. Keep your leftovers or healthy snacks handy so you won't be tempted by the drive through fast food place.
With a little planning and strategy-- and stocking your home base with only healthy food items for dinners down to desserts-- you can eat nutritiously and be busy, too.
Catherine S. Hains, MS RD has been interested in health and nutrition since she was a young child. Growing up in Fort Worth, TX, she earned a Bachelor's Degree in Broadcast Journalism from Texas Christian University and wrote for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for 12 years. Her life-long interest in nutrition and disease prevention never waned, and she went on to earn her Master's Degree in Nutrition from Eastern Michigan University. Cathy, now a Registered Dietitian, owns Lighthouse Nutrition and Wellness in Gig Harbor, WA where she enjoys inspiring people of all ages to make losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle easy, fun and permanent. She enjoys good food, cooking and food preparation, and showing others how healthy this can be. Her other pastimes include traveling, art, music and family life. She also likes staying fit with tennis, bicycling walking and jogging, researching nutrition and helping clients be at their best. For more information on Cathy, visit www.lighthouse-nutrition.com or write to Catherine at firstname.lastname@example.org.