Arriving to the grocery store can go either way. Sometimes, it’s tempting to behave like unsupervised child in a candy store, and other times you’re inspired to be a food stylist cooking up the trendiest whole-food dishes. Whichever way you go, the thing that never changes is the temptation. The brightly lit isles of candy, chocolate, chips, ice-cream, bread and cheese…and don’t you pretend for a minute they don’t taste like heaven. But the problem is, fueling your body on these items is actually going to drain you out more and deplete you from nutrients that you need. A diet high in cholesterol, sodium, sugar and saturated fat is a recipe for disease, and why do you workout anyways? To keep your health in check. To get the results you want, working at an optimal level towards your fitness goals is the key, and fact of the matter is, as hard as it is to swallow – this starts with what you put into your body.
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts and your necessary grains and amino acids acts as a preventive measure to protect your body from illness and maintain optimal function, which is the secret sauce to a perfectly toned body and killer cardio and overall good health. This is because these foods with a high nutrient density are in growth, development and maintenance of body functions. When you opt in for foods with high sugar content, or refined flour, you’re opting in for a less nutrient rich diet, thus slowing down your metabolic process, and making it harder to burn off those extra calories you’ll consume after a heavy workout, or when you do want to “treat yourself.”
Makes sense right? So, why dose it seem that sometimes those cookies, or that ice cream ends up in your cart? Or you end up ordering Uber eats because your meals you planned failed. It happens because it’s life! Sometimes it’s okay to order in pizza or ramen because you’ve been working 60h weeks. And it’s always definitely okay to have a piece of your grandmas 90’s birthday cake. It makes little sense to beat yourself up over those “sometimes” instances. But the vital part of a healthy diet is to make those “sometimes” ONLY be sometimes, and make the base chuck of your diet, truly healthy with no slips and slides. Then, you can have a couple more of those sometimes moments, and really treat yourself.
So next time you head out to the supermarket, keep these things in mind:
Plan Before You Buy
It’s obviously very common to head out to the grocery store with a list, but this actually may not be the best way to really “meal plan”. Instead, taking a look your weekly planner as a guide to what food you’re going to buy for the week makes more sense. For example, maybe on Wednesday you have to be in early to work for a presentation, and then you have your weekly dance class and social, that will take you into the night, leaving little time to be able to cook. Thursday you had made dinner plans with your friend, and Friday you have a date. It makes sense to cook the bulk of your meals at the beginning of the week, and then buy some quick healthy snacks for when you’re on the go. Typically, cooking a complicated meal once is much less hassle than cooking something new every day. So if your week looks something like this, a good idea would be to cook ~2 cups ( for one person) of lentils, beans, rice or quinoa for the week. Then, create a meal from it for the beginning of the week, such a stir-fry or a curry with a ton of veggies. This will last you a couple of days, and then you’ll have some leftover grains or legumes to add to a salad for your busy Wednesday. Making your own hummus and chopping up a big container of veggies will cut your cravings and give you something to reach for when you fly into your kitchen for a quick snack between work and the gym. Buying some oats, seeds, nuts and dried fruit will give you a chance to make some breakfast squares that will be easy to grab with a banana or an apple for an on-the-go breakfast. Basically, if you’re going to busy, commit to your diet still. Plan it out with your week and be prepared! It’s the easiest way to be able to maintain your health streak through the week, and even better – not waste any food.
Find Your Favorites
Have you ever stood in front of your fridge and just didn’t want to eat anything in it? It’s a common occurrence for most, since sometimes our cravings can get the best of us. A great way to avoid this is to just buy what you want – but of course, in healthy form. If you absolutely hate kale, don’t eat it. Try out bok choy or swiss chard instead. If you’re not into broccoli, try brussels-sprouts. Nature has gifted us with so many options for different fruits and vegetables, it is hard to not find your favorite 5 fruits and 5 vegetables that you really enjoy eating.
Spice it Up
Picking your favorite also works well when choosing spices. Italian spice, basil and savory spice can go really well with vegetables like zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes. While spices like cumin, chili powder, paprika, onion powder and oregano together goes really well with beans or rice and vegetables like corn, onion, tomato and herbs such as cilantro. Whatever spices you choose, remember the combination so that you can make variations of the dishes that you really enjoyed. A nice trick to using spices is limiting the amount of salt you use. If you’re using a ton of spices, you won’t feel the need to also use a ton of salt. Cayenne pepper, cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric, ginger and cumin are some of the many spices that actually also speed up your metabolism. So by using spices, you create your favorite tasting dishes, use less salt and speed up your metabolism. defiantly a staple item on your grocery list!
Skip the BS
This one is possibly one of the hardest and easiest tip to keeping your body fueled with nutrients. The hard part – resisting the temptations, cravings and convenience. The easy part- it’s literately just avoiding a few aisles in the grocery store, and you’re doing your body a favor. Usually the produce areas are on when you walk in. If you’re buying healthy foods, you will have no need to go through each aisle and be tempted by the the salty and sweet treats. Instead, just go grab your veggies and plan your healthy meals. You’ll have to go to another aisle to buy beans, rice, lentils, etc. but luckily those aisle aren’t typically with the junk food. If you avoid you the temptations all together, you’ll be able to control your eating at home, which leaves room for those only “sometimes” moments.
Substitute, substitute, substitute
Luckily with the help of the internet, we have access to thousands of recipes for free. Try googling “vegan and gluten free blueberry muffins” or “healthy pancakes.” The internet is filled with countless recipes that sub out the things you don’t want and allow you to cook healthy ready-to-go snacks. For example, power bars filled with oats, dates, nuts, seeds, honey, etc. are packed with superfoods and having them on hand (you can freeze them too) keeps cravings at bay, your sweet tooth satisfied and your body properly fueled. Even if you’re not vegan or vegetarian, switching that traditional pancake batter that is filled with sugar, refined flour and preservatives ( stuff that your body NEVER needs) to simply bananas and oats and cinnamon will make a big difference in how you start your day.