1. Take an Inventory
Knowing exactly what is in your food cupboards makes creating a healthy meal plan much easier. Before you start yours, make a list of every item in the kitchen and pantry. Ideas for healthy meals will come to you along the way, and you can also see which basics you need to stock up on. Keep this up regularly and you will never have a last-minute panic about missing ingredients that makes you stray from your plan.
2. Count the Colours on your Plate
A trick for easily upping the number of vitamins and minerals you eat is by counting the colors on your plate. Generally, the more there are the better, so add some fruit and vegetables if yours only has a few. Different colors have different benefits - orange is high in carotenoids while purple is rich in antioxidants, for example. Think of the phrase ‘eat a rainbow’ as a reminder.
3. Drink More Water
Another simple way of making your diet healthier is to choose water over alternative drinks, especially those high in sugar. That includes fruit smoothies and juices, not just fizzy drinks! While sugar-filled beverages can increase the risk of diabetes, water will keep you hydrated and feeling fuller. Flavor it with lemons, lime, mint, berries or other fruits if you are not keen on plain water.
4. Protein for Breakfast
Start the day with a protein-rich breakfast to feel fuller for longer and keep cravings for sugary snacks at bay. Luckily, lots of breakfast-time favorites are high in protein - eggs, avocado, and overnight oats made with Greek yogurt, to name a few. Balance protein with healthy fats and carbohydrates for a meal that will keep you going all morning.
5. Stock up on Healthy Snacks
A healthy meal plan should consider snacks as well as main meals. Not only will this prevent you from getting hungry and overeating, but also keep your blood sugar levels up. Make sure you have a supply of healthy snacks - fruit, nuts, seeds, popcorn, yogurts, etc - for on-the-go as well as in the house, to minimize the temptation to impulse buy.
6. Treat Yourself
There is no need to completely cut your favorite unhealthy foods from your diet. Anything is okay in moderation and denying yourself treats is likely to have the opposite effect, leading to binges and feeling guilty. Include the occasional treat on your meal plan as something to look forward to and keep you motivated; just remember to be aware of portion sizes so you do not overdo it.
7. Healthy Convenience Foods
Convenience foods do not have to be unhealthy, simply ones that make meals quick and easy to prepare. Think frozen vegetables, canned goods, and microwavable lentils and brown rice. These handy foods are great for speeding up cooking on busy days, and stop your healthy meal plan feeling like a chore, so add them to your shopping list.