Why You Need a Healthy Eating Plan
If you’re striving to live a calmer, healthier and sexier life, one of the keys to achieving that goal is feeding yourself well. Your body (and your mind and spirit) craves the nutrients that fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, lean meat and healthy fats provide, and you owe it to yourself to provide those nutrients.
Because if you’re like most women, when you neglect what your body needs, it begins to crave things that are bad for you. One of my friends, for example, craves sweets when she’s hungry or thirsty or hasn’t taken the time to fix a good meal. I crave sweets when I’ve been eating a bunch of junk. Other women crave sugar or salt or fat when they’re running non-stop from one activity to another. I think something similar is probably true for all of us, although our cravings may differ. (Includes affiliate links.)
But, it’s also true for most women that “eat healthy” is easier said than done. We don’t really have a healthy eating plan, we’re too busy, and the lure of convenience foods and pre-cooked meals is too great. So we end up feeding our bodies junk – highly processed foods, fast foods, sweets, salty snacks and sodas.
If eating well seems like an impossible goal, don’t be discouraged. This post is the first in a 4-part Healthy Eating 101 series. The goal of the series is to provide simple, practical ideas you can use to eat nutritious, delicious foods – to feed your body well – without breaking the bank or keeping you in the kitchen until midnight every night! And it all starts with two crucial ingredients – getting organized and creating a health eating plan.
Healthy Eating 101, Part 1 – Get Organized and Make a Healthy Eating Plan
Eating well never “just happens.” It always requires organization and planning – both of which sound time consuming and tiring. The good news is, you can start small and work your way into a healthy eating plan. Every change you make benefits your body, your health and your family’s health – you don’t have to become “super organic vegetarian woman” to reap the benefits of healthy eating. Here are a few steps to help you get started:
• Clean out and organize your refrigerator and pantry/cabinets. I don’t mean a “take everything out and change the shelf paper” cleaning! Just get rid of food you aren’t going to or shouldn’t eat – i.e., it’s too old or too unhealthy. Put “like” things (or items that will make a meal) together and move the healthiest foods to the front for easy access.
Do this at the beginning of every week – once you do it 2 or 3 times, it will take less than 5 minutes but will pay you back by saving you time and helping you know what you have on hand.
• Make a plan for the week. Take some time on the weekend to plan your family’s food for the week. Make a menu for dinners, taking into account evening activities. Note which nights you’ll need a quick meal and which ones will allow time for cooking. In addition to dinners, think about lunches and snacks. Also plan to double some meals and freeze the extras or send them to work or school as lunches. Doubling is the easiest way to have healthy meals on hand when you need them.
• Make healthy foods the easy choice. After you shop for the week, do a few simple things that will make it easy for everyone in the family to eat well. Make small bags or containers of snacks that children or adults can grab and go, like grapes. carrot sticks, nuts, dried fruit, and cheese cubes. Cut up fruits and vegetables and put them in a convenient location in the refrigerator. Make a tossed salad large enough for several meals (doing all of the cutting and chopping only once saves a lot of time!)
• Put time-saving appliances to work regularly. You probably already use your CrockPot regularly. It’s a lifesaver for busy women! But if you’ve let yours get pushed to the back of a cabinet, bring it out and dust it off! Break out your healthiest Crockpot recipes, try my Tex-Mex Shredded Beef, or check out this great CrockPot Pinterest board. And if you need a new Crockpot, or a better one, this is the programmable programmable Crockpot I use and love. Also, consider getting an Instant Pot. I’ve been late to jump on the Instant Pot bandwagon, but I got one recently and can already see that it’s going to be a big time saver.
• Be kind to yourself. Don’t have time to do all of these things? Just do one – and count it as a victory. Find yourself hitting the drive-thru because your meal plan didn’t work out? That’s fine – it will take time to refine your menu, shopping and meals so that you end up with a plan that works for you and your family.
Ready to take the next step? Check out the other 3 parts of this series.
Part 2 – Bad News About Processed Food
Part 3 – 4 Reasons to Eat More Real Foods
And be sure to download my free ebook – The Busy Mom’s Guide to Healthy Family Meals. It includes 24 quick and healthy meals and 22 tips for prepping real food quickly and easily.
What strategies help you plan and organize healthier meals and snacks? I’d love for you to share your successes – and frustrations.
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Photo credit – Matt Hintsa – Flickr, Jen Russo – Flickr
Cassie from True Agape says
It is very important that we prepare ourselves so we are set to a healthier living. How to start might be the most difficult part but we can do it. We need to have a good support group too.
Hi Cassie – Yes, having a plan and some support is key. You definitely can’t “wing it” when you’re transitioning to a healthier lifestyle.
Pure Grace Farms says
Great practical tips. I’ve found that when I remove the temptations and replace them with healthy choices half the battle is won. Thanks for the encouragement.
I really need to do more meal planning! This is one of the things in the healthy living journey that I don’t do. This sometimes is bad because at the spur of the moment, I eat things that probably aren’t the best choice. Thanks for the tips! Happy SITS Day, again!
Swinging through with the blog hop. I have been doing this for years and in reality, it saves money!!! My meals are planned weeks in advance. I shop once every month to stock and every two weeks for perishables. It really saves in the long run. Check me out @ http://www.feelingtheemptynest.blogspot.com when you have time. Thanks:)
I agree that organizing meals can save a lot of money – and time and stress!
Just stopping by from Mingle Monday! Thank you for this wonderful post. I am currently trying to eat better, so this just helps! I try to plan my meals weekly, but it always seems like something comes in the way, so I must get better and get into a routine. Looking forward to part 2!
Thanks so much for stopping by! Yes, planning can be touch-and-go at times, but I think it’s still worth the effort. As you said, getting into a routine is the key.
Ollie McKay's says
What a great post! And,Yes, it is easier sometimes to NOT eat healthy, but once you start, it is easier and your body doesn’t really want it any other way! So glad I found your blog!
Hi Ollie – I agree – if we can eat healthy just long enough to make it a habit, our bodies will really begin to crave healthy food.
Thanks so much for stopping by.
BlogShe (@blogshe) says
Visit from Happy Friday Blog Hop.
Time to visit and follow.
would be great if you can visit and link up.
Have a great day.
Thanks so much for stopping by.
Andrea @Mostly Happenstance says
I can’t wait for Part 2 because I feel like I have this part down, it’s just choosing the right foods that always gets me.
P.S. Pretty Living PDX sent me 🙂
Thanks for stopping by, Andrea.
I love the idea of putting items together that could make a meal. That will help me from making excuses to go out to eat. 😉
p.s. Pretty Living PDX sent me.
Thanks Elisabeth. I appreciate you stopping by (and Pretty Living sending you!).
Stephanie Ziajka (@StephanieZiajka) says
Ugh, this is my sole problem. I’m horrible at planning meals… I need to get it together for sure; eating healthy makes me feel like a new girl. Stopping by from SITS 🙂 Have a fabulous weekend!
Thank you for the tips. I was doing great for a while and then fell apart again. The thought I’m trying to change in my brain is the one that says I deserve it. What I really deserve is to do good things for my body so I feel better. What I think I deserve is lying around and eating junk. How is that a reward? Boy, our brains can get messed up.
Happy Sharefest. I hope you have a lovely weekend.
Hi MissRobin – Oh, I have that problem too, thinking that I “deserve” the candy or the relaxation of just lying around and watching TV. But you’re right, what you and I both really “deserve” is to treat our bodies well, with good food, sufficient sleep, and regular exercise. I’m going to keep “getting my mind right” (!) about what I really deserve, and hope you will too!
Thanks for stopping by.
I find it easier when I have snacks ready and on hand – apples for the car and extra fruit in my lunch and cut veggies in the evening.
Hi Nothy – I agree – having healthy snacks on hand and ready to go is key!
I find that making a plan has been the most helpful! Thanks for sharing your tips on the Photo Friday Blog Hop- Happy weekend!
It definitely makes it easier when you plan in advance otherwise you just grab!
Hi Krista – Yes, I have to make it easy to grab something healthy – otherwise I’ll grab whatever is available!
karrie smith says
Thanks for posting this! I can’t wait until you post part 2
Jesse @ The Empowered Momma says
Once we got the hang of meal planning…took some time, it became easier for us to keep on track.
Hi Jesse – It does take time to get into that routine, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
That’s my hardest part … thinking far enough in advance to plan!
Hi Tyler – I know, that’s hard for me too, although it’s much easier now that I’m into a routine of meal planning.
Thanks for stopping by.