This is my prompt for today, but you’ve heard it all, I’m sure. Eat your veggies, stay away from fried foods and sugar and processed foods, don’t eat too many calories, don’t eat too many carbs, don’t eat too much fat, don’t eat too much meat, eat enough protein, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I realize that these tips may just be adding to the white noise that is the health and fitness industry, but they are three things that have helped me to enjoy food responsibly.
1. Spice It Up
Herbs and spices are fantastic. When we cook any of the “recipes” we just make up on the fly, they always include a plethora of dried herbs and spices. We have ALL of them. At this point, I don’t know if I want to include a photo of my spice cabinet or a gif from The Three Amigos. Oh you know what spices look like. Just imagine literally all of them. So as I was saying…fat and sugar taste GREAT, especially when they take the forms of cheese, butter, and wheat (macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwich, Red Lobster’s cheddar biscuits, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm). And when you’re trying not to eat such things, you REEEEAAAAALLLLY miss them. Putting a bunch of spices on your food won’t fill that void entirely, but it definitely helps. Most of our “recipes” end up having a little salt, LOTS of freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil. If we’re feeling extra sassy (and depending on what we’re cooking), we might throw in some paprika, chili powder, cumin, curry powder, and/or turmeric. And I don’t know if garlic falls into this category or not, but the more the better. Adding herbs and spices won’t make non-fried things taste like fried things, but it will still make them very, very tasty.
2. Make It Pretty
I like my food to be pretty. When it’s particularly lovely, I take pictures of it. I think people will probably get tired of that pretty soon, but I just can’t help myself. I mean look at this:
I didn’t even want to eat it. I just wanted to have an endless photo shoot with it. It made me a little sad that I didn’t have a better camera, but then my gosh if it didn’t look delicious, so I ate it. AND IT WAS. That’s about a cup of Greek yogurt, a cup of fresh berries (raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries), and some raw honey. I added to it about 1/4 cup of Grape Nuts, and I can now say with all confidence that this snack is the reason Grape Nuts exist in the world.
I like my food (and my home, let’s be real) to have ALL THE COLORS. I want it to be a feast for the body, the taste buds, and the eyes. The only exception to this is Indian food, which tends to all be brown, but it’s so delicious, nobody cares. The prettier your food is, the prouder you are of having made it, and the more you want to eat it. And you know how you get lots of colors in your food? Lots of vegetables and fruits. Want a rainbow salad? Toss all of this together:
- yellow bell pepper
- spring mix
- purple cabbage
- garbanzo beans (sautee with herbs/spices)
- goat cheese
- homemade vinaigrette (I’ll share some recipes with you if you want them.)
I promise it will be beautiful and delicious.
3. Make a Plan and Stick to It
This is the single biggest tip I can give you if you want to eat healthier. Know what you are going to eat when. If you know you’re going to eat soon, you won’t be tempted to snack. And if you have healthy snacks planned, you won’t be (as) tempted to reach for the unhealthy ones. If you know what you’re having for dinner, and you’ve already bought all the ingredients, then all you have to do is make it. You might be tempted to be lazy and not cook, but I feel guilty when I buy fresh ingredients and then don’t use them, so use fresh veggies. They’re healthier than packaged food anyway, and you can let your guilt help you make good choices.
Sticking to the plan is really the hard part. Making the plan will be a bit labor intensive for the first few weeks, but you’ll get used to it once you figure out what works for you. I plan my dinners first because that’s the only meal of the day my husband and I get to eat together, so it takes a little more cooperation to decide what we’re going to make and what ingredients we need to buy. Once I have my dinners in place, it’s not that hard for me to work in all the other foods I need during the day. But sticking to the plan is another story entirely. It really is a meal-by-meal choice to eat what’s on the plan or to eat ice cream. I’m sure it would help a lot if I just threw out the ice cream, but since I don’t make health and diet choices for anyone but myself, I can’t really do that. Also, the guilt.
So far, though, I’ve been able to stick to my plans really well. It helps that I have a variety of foods every day, spaced out so I’m eating every few hours, and that they’re all delicious. I’m not like subsisting on plain rice cakes or anything horrible like that. Man, I’m glad I was never on a fad diet in the ’80s.