But of course, we don’t live in a perfect world. We live with a reality that comes with many challenges to eating well and keeping off accidental kilo creep (especially in winter!). Packing a healthy snack or making time to cook after a long day can be tough. Finding healthy options at restaurants, on the road or at social events often feels like a hunt for buried treasure.
But guess what? You can do this. The road to achieving any goal is almost guaranteed to have a few speed bumps along the way – and losing weight is no exception. The key to overcoming obstacles when they do crop up is to anticipate them ahead of time – and have strategies for success ready to go.
I don’t have enough time!
It’s true – eating healthy meals takes more time than picking up a pizza or Thai takeaway. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend hours following elaborate recipes. You can pull together balanced meals and snacks fast by using the following simple food-prep tactics that work with your schedule and lifestyle.
By adopting these habits you’re more likely to stick with healthy eating for the long haul, even when things get hairy.
A little bit of planning can go a long way toward helping you get healthy meals on the table, fast. Take time on the weekend to plan your meals for the week and shop for all the groceries you’ll need. Then prep components that can be made ahead of time, such as a bolognaise sauce that can be used for multiple meals or long-cooking whole grains. Similarly, you can put together easy options that make breakfast and snacks a breeze – that is, portioning out cereal into single serves, or putting single serves of fruit and nuts into small containers so you don’t end up having to rely on a muffin from the cafe or a sugary muesli bar from the vending machine.
Learn to love leftovers
They literally make your meals work double duty. Instead of cooking a new dish every night, cook double batches so you’ve got dinner for two nights in a row, or freeze half for later on, when you know schedules will be hectic. It can also save time if you don’t have to pack an entirely new lunch every morning, or from standing in a queue at the sandwich shop. Using up your leftovers is convenient, thrifty and healthy.
Find fast-cooking favourites
Having a few meals in your repertoire that you can make at lightning speed means you’re less likely to order takeout when you’re crazy-busy and don’t really have something prepped in the fridge. Chicken-and-vegie stir-fries come together in minutes, as do vegie omelettes or a pasta tossed with tinned tomatoes and canned beans.
Think outside the (meal) box
There’s no rule that says you have to stick to traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner foods. As long as what you pick is healthy and nutritious and leaves you feeling satisfied, it doesn’t matter whether it fits the idea of a ‘normal’ meal. Don’t have time to cook your usual porridge for breakfast? Smear some almond butter on a slice of wholegrain toast and grab a piece of fruit and you’re all set. Or blend up a few of your favourite fruits and vegies to make a delicious smoothie. Get home late and don’t feel like making dinner? Put down the takeaway menu and make a healthy snack plate with hummus, tomatoes, olives and wholegrain crackers or toast instead.
Discover how to overcome more everyday obstacles and stay lean in the August/September issue of Prevention magazine.