You don’t need to spend a lot of money to stick to a healthy diet. While you may decide to buy those expensive organic crackers or keep your fridge stocked with pricey imported vegetables, it isn’t necessary to spend that much on healthy eating. In fact, some of the healthiest meals can be the cheapest if you take the time to put together the right recipes and meal plans.
Pre-packaged snack foods and ready made meals are often more expensive than making your own meals and are usually loaded with extra sugars, fats, and preservatives. Preparing veggies and low fat dip as a snack is not only one of the healthiest things to munch on, it’s incredibly inexpensive. Instead of grabbing a breakfast burrito from your local drive-thru, making one at home will cost a fraction of the price and you can cut back on the oils you use while packing it full with more veggies.
Fruits and Veggies
Sometimes our favourite produce isn’t in season and trying to get that basket of berries we love to snack on can be very expensive. Frozen fruits and vegetables keep all their nutrients so shop in the frozen section and stock up when your favourites are on sale. When those fruits and vegetables are in season, buy a large quantity and store them in your freezer if it’s an item that freezes well.
Create a Menu
Plan your meals in advance and keep ready made snacks and meals on hand for times when you think you’ll be too busy or tired to cook. Quite often, after a long day of work and school when everyone’s wiped out, it can be all too tempting to just order a pizza rather than preparing a meal. If you have it already made or at least partially prepared the day before, you’ll save money on fast food while enjoying a healthier meal than that greasy fast-food burger and fries.
Buying non-perishable foods in bulk that can be stored or frozen can save you quite a bit of money as well. Keeping a good supply of meats, veggies, and whole grain bread products in the house will encourage you to cook a healthy, homemade meal rather than buying something more expensive that can just be heated up in the microwave.
Teaching your kids the importance of healthy eating while they’re young will not only ensure they’re getting the proper nutrition they need to grow, it will help establish good habits for when they’re older and start making their own food choices. By sticking to healthy eating rules, your children will become accustomed to making better choices and will hopefully carry these lessons with them through life.
Involve Them When Deciding Meals
By giving your kids a choice of which vegetable to have with dinner or what type of healthy snack to have between lunch and dinner, they will feel more invested in what they’re eating and less like they’re being forced to eat something they don’t want. If they really hate one type of vegetable, give them the option of something they prefer and you’ll have far fewer battles at dinner time every night.
Make Healthy Food Fun
By cutting food into interesting shapes or making pictures out of the food on their plate, eating becomes a game that they’re now interested in participating in. Letting them help you prepare their food can also get them more excited for meal time because they may feel like they’re playing a bigger role and have made some of the decision regarding what they’ll be eating.
Lead By Example
Telling your children they aren’t allowed to eat ice cream while you’re sitting there with a big bowl of it probably won’t go over very well. When your kids see you eating the same things as them and having veggies as a snack instead of a bag of chips, they won’t question why they’re eating healthy food instead of anything else. If junk food just isn’t an option in your cupboards, your kids won’t be asking for the bag of chocolate chip cookies instead of the bowl of grapes.
Substitute for Healthy Alternatives
Giving them carbonated flavoured water instead of pop will still seem like a treat. Watering down their sugary juice will reduce the amount of sugar they’re consuming. Changing the white bread for whole grains will add some extra nutrition to their diet. By making small changes to the ingredients of all their meals, you’ll be sneaking healthy food in and they won’t even notice most of these changes. The more they become used to healthier alternatives, the easier it will be to establish healthy eating habits.
If you want to start leading a healthier lifestyle, you don’t need to do an overhaul on your whole life to see results. Even if you do plan on making drastic changes, these changes should be done slowly to give yourself time to adjust and improve your chances at long-term success. A little exercise along with some healthy eating habits can help you feel slimmer and more fit in no time.
Choose the Healthier Alternative
In the grocery store, go for the plain popcorn instead of the super drenched movie theatre butter flavour. At a restaurant, substitute your fries for a salad or change your carb loaded potatoes to a lighter vegetable. For breads and pastas, give the whole wheat types a try. Even when you just have to have your chocolate fix, try one of the darker types of chocolate that contain less sugar. Whatever you’re choosing to eat, take a moment to consider what a healthier option would be.
Limiting how much you eat is one of the most important tips for healthy eating. Some people can’t bear to give up their favourite foods, but cutting your portions in half still allows you to enjoy what you love with half the guilt. Getting the “100 calorie” packages of the chips and chocolates you can’t live with out will remind you how much you’re consuming so you know to stop when the package is empty.
Alcohol and Those Extra Calories
When you’re going to a social event and you want to have a few drinks with your friends, you don’t need to throw your healthy eating plan out the window. Switching to a lighter beer or drinking spirits with a low calorie mixer can reduce the amount of calories you’ll be consuming. To cut that number in half again, alternate your alcoholic beverages with a glass of water or another non-alcoholic, low calorie beverage.
Break Your Bad Habits
Pay attention to your eating habits over the course of a few days and pinpoint the times you snack the most. If you tend to blow through a bag of chips while sitting in front of the TV, stop snacking in your living room or switch your snacks to veggies and fat free dip. If you tend to binge eat after a stressful day at work, reflect on the things that have upset you and find other ways to deal with your stress.
Healthy eating habits can be learned little by little until they’ve become second nature to you. The more you learn, the less you’ll need to struggle with your eating habits. As it becomes easier you’ll be able to make more and more changes to reach your healthy eating goals.
Once you’ve decided to take the first steps in healthy eating, creating a plan to guide you will help you in your efforts. Eating healthier can start with small changes at first and you can progress from there, but creating goals for yourself in advance will help you stay focused and measure your progress.
Make Realistic Goals
If losing weight is what you hope to accomplish with your new healthy eating habits, set reasonable goals for yourself in terms of how much weight you’d like to lose. For some, gaining weight, lowering cholesterol, or building muscle may be the goal. Regardless of what you’re working towards, making goals that aren’t too easy or too impossible is a great way to stay motivated.
Stay Away From Convenience Foods
Not in every case, but quite often, packaged foods that are ready to eat are much less healthy than something home cooked. Cooking healthy meals from fresh meats, vegetables, and whole grains allows you to see what you’re putting into your meal and cut down on the excess fats and sugars you don’t need. You’re also potentially cutting out quite a bit of preservatives and toxins by eating this way.
Don’t Be Afraid To Snack
Sticking to a healthy eating plan doesn’t mean you need to cut snacks out of your day. Switching up your snack choices to a healthier alternative will allow you to fulfill your cravings while helping you to feel full and satisfied all day. Have a snack alternative option ready for every different craving you have, such as sweet, salty, hot, cold, or crunchy. Eat a piece of fruit in place of a candy bar or have a handful of nuts rather than a bag of chips.
Making too many drastic changes at once could be discouraging if you become overwhelmed with denying yourself all the foods you’re used to. Start by reducing your portions on your regular meals and cutting out the little things like that bag of chips you wolfed down on the way home and didn’t really taste. Once you’ve become accustomed to paying more attention to your diet, add a few more healthy eating habits in one at a time and soon you’ll notice your whole routine has changed for the better.