The Secret to Staying Healthy: Planning Ahead

The Secret to Staying Healthy: Planning Ahead

Apr 27 2017

Making healthy food choices throughout the day requires planning, not just hoping.

By: Lorie Vanden Berg

With junk food options easily accessible, and seemingly less expensive, eating healthy can be difficult. Many of us are tempted by the delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies our co-workers share, the vast selection of treats at the cafe or a walk down the local grocer’s snack aisle.

We’re all faced with choices regarding food every day so having a plan for what you’re going to eat, or not eat, is a big step toward success.

If you consciously make a plan at the beginning of each day, or week, to decide what you’ll eat for your meals and snacks, you’ll be more intentional about your choices. For example, when leaving the house, bring healthy foods with you so you’re not tempted to go to a vending machine or a drive-thru, potentially losing sight of your goals in a moment of hunger.

Here are four ways to make healthier food choices all week long:

1. Make a healthy grocery list

Determine what you and your family members like to eat that’s healthy and have those foods on hand. It’s also a good idea to think through each meal time including breakfast, lunch and dinner and any midday or evening snacks and plan ahead. Once you’ve created your grocery list, stick to it and be mindful at the store to avoid distractions from any tasty treats.

Before you go shopping, I also recommend eating a healthy snack to help fend off cravings while in the store. It’s easier to make healthy choices when you’re feeling good about your last great choice and you’re less likely to be tempted by and fill your cart with unhealthy foods.

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2. Try something new

Plan a time to try new and healthy snacks and meals throughout the week. Some good resources for new recipes are Pinterest, family and friends, or just getting creative on your own. For example, if you like apples, ham and cheese, try combining them. Start by brushing the apples slices with lemon juice to keep them from browning and then wrap ham around each slice of apple and a piece of cheese for a fun snack or lunch. Another idea is slicing a banana lengthwise, spreading peanut butter and making a peanut butter and banana sandwich, with the banana halves as the bread.

And if you have a favorite food or snack you can’t live without, see if there’s an alternative so you can still enjoy it but with a healthier flair. For example, get your fix for pizza or breadsticks with a cauliflower crust base.

3. Write it down

Whether you use paper or an app, it’s much easier to stick to your plan when you write it down. Recording everything you eat creates awareness and can help reduce or eliminate mindless eating. After all, knowing you have a healthy snack when those afternoon munchies attack will make it that much easier to avoid the unhealthy options lurking around. And popular apps such as MyFitnessPal are helpful for not only tracking what you eat but they can also provide nutrition information, such as fat content, fiber, calories and sugar to help you make better choices in the long run.

4. Help a friend

You’re more likely to succeed if you can share your goals with someone who is also committed to a healthier lifestyle. Encouraging and supporting another person will inspire you to stick to your plan and provide accountability to you.

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Making lifestyle choices that lead to a healthier you takes determination but it’s not impossible. With a little work and planning, making the switch to eating healthier is a goal anyone can reach.   

About the Author: Lorie Vanden Berg works in corporate wellness as a Product Specialist – Wellness Business Representative at Priority Health. She aids in the implementation of wellness programs for employer groups to promote employee well-being. She holds Certified Faculty Status with WELCOA (Wellness Council of America).