It’s highly possible that this never-ending winter has you in a rut, both mentally and physically. The beginning of March means spring is right around the corner and typically that brings us a boost in mood and motivation. Since we can’t control the weather (and it doesn’t seem to be Letting up anytime soon), focusing on what we can control is a great way to get our minds right and back in the game so to speak.
One of the things that is easy to control, but, perhaps overwhelming for some, is to think about and prepare what we eat for lunch and snacks. What typically leads us down the wrong path (i.e. fast food, convenience foods, etc.) is our lack of preparation. Truly, one to two hours/week is all you need to gain control of 2-3 of your daily meal/snack times. Let’s discuss some best practices:
- Grocery shop over the weekend. Don’t get to Wednesday and realize you have nothing to pack in your lunch, so you’ll just grab something from the cafeteria or a quick-service restaurant. Even worse, don’t skip the meal because you have nothing to eat. Plan ahead and use lists. Don’t go to the grocery without a plan either!
- Buy fresh vegetables and clean and cut them immediately upon purchasing them. If they are cut, they are easy to pack. Otherwise, you are rushing around in the morning and the red pepper you had planned to pack in your lunch, is not washed or cut and you leave it in the fridge. Now you risk wasting the money you spent on that pepper too, because by the time you make time to prepare your veggies next week, it is probably not any good.
- Buy a lunch box and reusable water bottle that you like. Think functional and cute. The more you like the stuff you are going to pack your lunch in, the more likely you are to use it. Sounds silly, but oh so true!
- Focus on healthy snacks. Snacks are hard to get in some days and are an even bigger downfall than lunch without proper planning. Just need a little something to tie you over until mealtime, but you forgot to pack a snack today? This is when it’s really easy to talk yourself into just a handful of candy or just one cookie in the lounge. “I’m so hungry! I just need something.” Some great ideas to keep with you at all times – nuts (particularly almonds and walnuts), protein bar or granola bar (easy to keep in purse or car), trail mix (watch portion sizes with this one), and easy to eat fruit (apples, clementines, grapes).
- Get creative! Don’t think that your lunch has to be a sandwich, fresh veggies, fruit, and a yogurt. Sure, all of those things are okay, but don’t get bored with what you eat. Bring sushi, try a wrap, make a salad or fruit smoothie, etc., etc. Food is yummy and, yes, healthy food is yummy too! Enjoy what you are eating.
Think of your snacks and weekday lunches as your opportunity to eat your healthiest. If you knock out this part of the day with great variety (think color and all food groups represented) and great restraint on the bad stuff (because you are prepared with super healthy foods), then when someone asks you to go to happy hour, out to eat, or you have to grab something quick with the kids between activities, you can still feel confident that you’ve given your body some great fuel that day.
Quick Tip of the Week: When eating out, always choose WATER as your beverage. It will help decrease your overall caloric intake for that meal, inch you closer to meeting your recommended daily intake of water, and save you at least $2/person!
Remember – you should only be drinking 10% of your total daily calories. For most of us, that is only 1 beverage per day that is not water!