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In our busy world, eating healthily can feel like just one more task to juggle, but it doesn’t have to be. By setting clear goals and building habits to help reach them, you can navigate even the most chaotic days while staying nourished and energized. Here’s how to set yourself up for success.
What Are Your Goals?
When it comes to just about any goal, it’s important to know your target. Your goals may be focused on improving health markers, changing your body composition or implementing new healthy habits. Whatever those goals are, be specific. This will help you plan your next steps and measure your progress toward the goal.
Below are examples of setting healthy goals and habits to implement for a healthier you.
- Increase my fiber and vitamin intake - I will eat 3 servings of fruits or vegetables every day.
- Support my weight loss efforts and muscle mass - I will include a protein source every day for breakfast.
- Improve my cholesterol - I will eat at least 5 grams of fiber at every meal.
- Eat something before I exercise in the morning - I’ll make a slice of toast with nut butter and jelly to eat on my way to the gym on Mondays and Thursdays.
Know your schedule and plan ahead
Take some time to evaluate the week ahead. Which days are busiest? Do you need to meal prep for an entire week or will preparing meals or snacks for just a couple of days or for the week be more realistic for you? When are you most likely to skip a meal or pick up fast food? What’s your plan if you go out to eat?
There’s no right or wrong answer to any of these questions. All of us have busy days and eating well isn’t always the easiest option. Sometimes fast food is the only option for the day. It’s worth spending time devising a plan to eat well despite what life throws at you.
For example, you can stock your car or office with healthy snack options such as nutrition bars, individual packets of nuts and easy-to-grab fruit. Chop vegetables or pre-portion ingredients in advance to save time during the busy week. You might also look up nutrition facts for your favorite restaurants to find healthy go-to orders.
It’s much easier to choose healthy snacks when they’re convenient to eat. With your goals and schedule in mind, it’s time to fill your pantry and refrigerator with snack and meal ingredients to make eating on the go easy and nutritious. Don’t forget individual or pre-portioned servings of your favorite dips to go along with them (hummus, tzatziki, guacamole, etc.).
Think about your schedule and the times you’ll need the most help. Maybe this means your grocery list will include ready-to-drink protein shakes, fruit you can cut and portion out in advance or easy-to-grab nutrition bars. Try to find ways you can make eating healthy the obvious choice. Below are additional ideas to make your meal and snack planning easier.
- Individual packs of nuts or nut butter (Justin’s® almond butter, RX™ Nut Butter, Once Again® Sunbutter)
- Low-fat or nonfat Greek yogurt such as Chobani®, Oikos® or TwoGood®
- Frozen fruits (for smoothies) and vegetables (for sides)
- Individual packets of snacks such as popcorn or SunChips®
- Protein options such as tuna packets, hard-boiled eggs or nutrition shakes
Consider adding meal prep containers to your list as well. Bento boxes, lunch boxes, reusable sandwich bags, snack containers and reusable water bottles are key elements to successful prepping and portioning for your meals and snacks. You can find a variety of these at different price points at your local grocery store or on online.
Tips to stay successful
Starting these new habits is already a big win, so congratulate yourself for getting the ball rolling! Your next step is to make it easy for yourself to keep up with your new healthy habits for long-term success.
The key to building and maintaining habits is to make them the obvious and easy choice. This may mean changing your lifestyle to accommodate an earlier visit to the gym (an earlier bedtime, on-the-go snacks to eat beforehand or a water bottle out and ready), or your environment (keep healthy snacks visible and out in the open, pre-portioned and ready to eat).
To help you cement your habits:
- Plan ahead. Set up a recurring grocery order so you’ll always have your essentials on hand.
- Evaluate your schedule. Review your routine and determine when you’ll be the busiest. Treat this time like an appointment and follow through with yourself.
- Make it visible. Create a checklist for yourself and post it on the fridge. Store fresh produce in clear containers. Set up a supplement station next to your coffee maker and take yours while brewing.
- Celebrate wins. Whether it’s hitting your health goal or sticking to your routine all week, find ways to celebrate! Go to a movie, meet up with friends, buy yourself flowers or plan a golf outing—all great ways to reward your hard work!
- Have a back-up plan. We all know even the best made plans don’t always pan out. Remember and rely on your healthy options as much as you can, but don’t beat yourself up when you can’t. Your health is the result of more than just one decision, and you can always start fresh with your next choice.
You can find healthy recipes for every meal on our website. Get started with a nutritious breakfast or quick-and-easy snack recipes. For additional help, our team of registered dietitian nutritionists can help you reach your health goals. To learn about Cooper Clinic Nutrition’s one-on-one consultations and other services available, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.
Article provided by Emily Villaseca RDN, LD, CNSC, and Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.