Deciding to live a healthier lifestyle can be overwhelming, to say the least. There is no shortage of information on the Internet on how to eat healthier, how to start exercising, or how to lose weight. Information overload can lead you to questions like, “Where do I start?” or, “How do I start?” Starting with small, basic steps that are manageable for you will make them easier to incorporate into your daily lifestyle. As an example: if there is something you enjoy several times a day, such as sugary snacks or high calorie foods, swap out at least one of those things for a natural sugar snack or a lessor calorie food choice. Instead of having those things several times a day, try going down to having it one time a day to eventually eliminating it altogether.
A common quote is, “You can’t out train a bad diet.” What this means is that, despite your efforts to exercise consistently, you may not get the results you desire if you couple that with a poor diet consisting of: processed foods; larger portions than you need; not choosing the right foods for your nutrition goals; or taking in more calories than you are burning.
Let’s talk about some simple changes you can make to your kitchen that will help you make better nutrition choices, as well as enjoying and feeling more confident about the things you eat.
If you’re going to start new habits, you’ll have greater success if you can’t easily reach for the things previously contributing to old habits. Remove foods that are: overly processed; contain too many calories per serving; are high in trans fats; are high in sugar; potential triggers for binging or mindless eating.
Kitchen Tools to Have on Hand
Food weight scale- this will give you an idea of portion sizes and calorie totals based on the weight of the item(s). Eventually, after consistent use, you’ll be able to eyeball something (when you go out to eat, for example) to know if the portion size is or isn’t right for you.
Spice blends/seasonings- be aware of added sodium and sugar. Having a wide variety on hand can change up how things taste so your food won’t get boring or too routine. Use these on: roasted vegetables; proteins of your choice; plain Greek yogurt to make a dipping sauce; homemade salad dressings; stir frys and casseroles.
Slow cooker/electric pressure cooker- makes batch cooking easier so meals can be divided up over several days. Saves you time in having to cook every day by having things prepared in advance.
Roasting pans- can be used to cook larger servings of things (such as roasted vegetables or sheet pan meals) to be divided up into smaller servings for several days.
Storage containers- be sure they are air tight to prevent food from drying out and to prevent leaking if you transport them. A wide variety of sizes are available in both plastic and glass, as well as silicone storage bags (very similar to slide top plastic bags) that can be washed and reused.
Well-made cookware- ensures even heat distribution while you’re cooking process and good quality will last you longer.
Chef’s knife- this will be your go-to tool for chopping, dicing, and slicing. There are other knives to choose from, such as a paring knife or a serrated knife, but a good quality chef’s knife is your best choice if you only need or want to own one type of knife.
High Quality Foods to Have on Hand
Protein from sources such as: skinless chicken breasts; ground turkey; lean beef; fish; plain Greek yogurt; cottage cheese; eggs; legumes; quinoa.
Protein supplements such as powders and bars. Things to be aware of: added sugars and unnecessary carbohydrates.
Fruits such as: mixed berries; oranges; grapefruit; pears; pomegranate seeds; bananas; apples.
Vegetables such as: dark, leafy greens (i.e. spinach, kale, arugula and bok choy); cruciferous vegetables (i.e. broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts); bell peppers.
Good fats such as: extra virgin olive oil; avocados; nuts that are raw and unsalted; and flax seeds.
The list above is a good starting point to provide you with lean protein, simple carbohydrates, fiber and good fats, all of which are needed to fuel your body, be satiating and curb cravings.
By having at least one item from each of the categories two to three times a day, in moderation, your body could potentially see changes like more physical energy, increased mental alertness, composition changes, and improved physiological benchmarks such as cholesterol changes.
Committing to change is exactly that, a commitment, and enlisting the help of others or keeping a log of what you consume will contribute to your accountability to your new habits. The more you practice them, the easier they will be!
Michele is a part time fitness and nutrition coach. Fitness has been a part of her life for the past 20 years as a requirement for her career, and she enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. She is most passionate about strength training and defensive measures training. She believes in keeping things simple when it comes to wellness and committing to one change at a time. To follow Michele, check out her website and Instagram.
Main Photo Credit & Third Photo Credit: Africa Studio/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Bochkarev Photography/shutterstock.com; Fourth Photo Credit: Gaf_Lila/shutterstock.com