I have been in practice for a long, long time (egad!) and over those years, I have evolved my own eating habits. In the course of these many years working as a doctor, I became a mother to two children (now 15 and 18 years old), cooked thousands of meals, hosted hundreds of dinners for friends and families, cooked for life cycle events, was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, treated and coached thousands of patients using diet as therapy, and developed many, many recipes.
There really is no situation in which you cannot eat healthy.
I am proof of this. You can go to conferences and events and road trips through middle America and eat healthy. You can attend group vacations and weddings and eat healthy. You can have children and feed children and host birthday parties and eat healthy. You just need some stupid simple hacks to make it easier!
Luckily, I love to cook and I love even more to eat. I consider myself a healthy foodie and pretty much think about food all day long. I know not everyone is the same as me. For some of you cooking is a chore. If you look back through my recipes, ALL of them -every single one- are simple to make. I want to spend my time eating, not cooking, so even my recipes are about making healthy eating easy.
But I fully recognize that eating healthy foods is NOT easy at all. After many, many years of practice, there are still times that I still struggle to make healthy choices because it is just not convenient. It is easier to stop at a drive-thru or a restaurant than it is to cook at home or pack a lunch for work. It is so much easier to open a box, a bag, a container, and a wrapper than it is to wash, chop, prep, and cook. It is easier to give in to the call of the vending machine, gas station, or donut box that someone brought to the office than to drink some water and pack your own healthy snack.
Here is how I make eating healthy EASY:
Menu plan- one day each week, I plan my dinners. When I am relaxed and NOT HUNGRY, I peruse my cookbooks and favorite recipe blogs to find recipes that look healthy, easy, and delicious. I double every dinner recipe so that I have leftovers for lunch the next day. You can use the recipes on my blog for ideas!
Make a grocery list with all the ingredients needed for dinners, then add lots of fresh vegetables for salads and snacks, fresh fruits, some cheese (if you eat dairy), nuts and seeds, eggs, meats and unsweetened dried fruits like dates and mango for your occasional sweet dessert.
THIS is the stupid simple healthy eating hack: you have to make eating healthy as easy as opening up your cabinet and reaching in to a bag of chips.
To make this happen, your healthy food has to be prepared, visible, and ready to eat.
Prepare your food as soon as you get home from the store. When I get home, I wash my fruits and veggies. I store the fruit like apples, oranges, clementines, avocados, mangoes, and cherry tomatoes in bowls that sit out on the counter top all the time. If the fruit needs to stay cold, I wash it and then put it in a glass bowl in the fridge. I also fill a giant glass tupperware full of prepped veggies- peeled carrots, sliced celery, trimmed snap peas and green beans, sliced bell peppers and cucumbers, and whatever else we might eat raw, and store that in the fridge. I also always put salad greens into the salad spinner and chop a bunch of veggies that I would want to eat in a salad. That way, in the morning when I am rushing to pack a lunch, or when my husband and kids are searching for lunch, we can all grab a handful of salad greens and a few handfuls of pre-chopped veggies and viola! SALAD for lunch! I also often hard boil some eggs to have on hand for a quick lunch or snack and a rotisserie chicken is quick added protein, too.
Making your healthy food visible is super important. If you don’t see the healthy food, it does not get eaten. I use glass bowls and glass tupperware not only because it is better for the environment and non-toxic for my family, but also because we can then see what is in them. When you open the fridge and see loads of beautiful, colorful foods, it looks tempting and beautiful to eat. Sometimes, when my family comes into the kitchen searching for food, opening cabinets looking for something to eat, I will pull the tupperware out of the fridge, take the lid off, and set it on the kitchen counter. It ALWAYS gets eaten.
If you truly want to have a healthy diet that you can stick with forever, you need to learn how to make healthy food easy to eat. It is really quite easy to purchase delicious, whole foods, but making them readily available does take a little work. My suggestion is to recruit your family, kids and all, and get them involved in prepping your fruits and veggies. Make them look beautiful and appetizing, keep them visible on the counter and in the fridge, and sit back and watch everyone, including yourself, make healthier choices for your meals and snacks.