For most of us, eating healthy doesn’t come naturally. What comes naturally is the path of least resistance, the option that’s quick, easy, and convenient. Building healthy habits requires first dismantling the old, bad habits, which can take quite a bit of effort and re-learning. To make that process easier, here are some of our favorite health hacks:
1. Eat nuts for a healthy snack. They’re full of healthy fats, are a good source of protein, have high amounts of fiber, and supply other important nutrients to our diet. Just keep in mind they are high in calories, so should be eaten carefully. Here’s what 200 calories in nuts equals:
• 8 walnuts
• 10 macadamia nuts
• 10 pecans
• 22 cashews
• 22 peanuts
• 29 almonds
• 62 pistachios
2. Learn what one serving actually looks like. Overeating happens for many reasons, but one of the biggest factors is not being aware of what a serving size is. Always read labels, and check out this guide to visually understand what a serving size looks like.
Hint: Your fingertip is about a teaspoon, your thumb is about a tablespoon, the palm of your hand is about 3 ounces of meat, and a fist is about one cup.
3. Keep five-minute meal staples on hand at all times. A dozen eggs, a Tupperware full of cooked brown rice, and precut veggies will silence your mealtime excuses. A few great options are:
• Fried egg + spinach + lentils
• Lettuce + avocado + grilled chicken
• Brown rice + black beans + salsa
4. Keep healthy grains on hand. Cans of black beans and pre-cooked quinoa, rice, and oats means you never have an excuse to not eat a healthy meal at home. Follow these ratios to cook your grains right:
• Brown Rice: 2 cups water + 1 cup rice for 30 minutes, then steam for 15
• Oats: 2 cups water + 1 cup oats for 15 minutes
• Quinoa: 2 cups water + 1 cup quinoa for 20 minutes
• Wild Rice: 4 cups water + 1 cup rice for 60 minutes
5. Make a Mason Jar salad. In a 32-ounce Mason Jar, layer a whole lunch. Put the dressing on the bottom (or keep it separate and take a bottle with you), add in the toppings (fruit, veggies, nuts, etc.) and put the greens on top.
6. …and learn how to make your own salad dressings. Salad dressings are often loaded with unnecessary sugar, sodium, and preservatives. There’s really no need to buy them when making your own is so easy! A simple ratio to follow is 2 tablespoons oil (olive, avocado, and sesame are great choices) + 1 tablespoon vinegar (Balsamic, rice wine, and apple cider are excellent) + ½ teaspoon sweet (honey, maple syrup, brown sugar; your choice!) + pinch of salt. Shake it up and you’re good to go!
7. Mix up your protein with vegetarian options. Getting enough protein can be a challenge. If you can’t choke down one more grilled chicken breast, give these plant proteins a try:
• Quinoa (1 cup = 8 grams protein)
• Hempseed (2 tablespoons = 10 grams protein)
• Chia seed (2 tablespoons = 4 grams protein)
• Soy (1/2 cup = 10 grams protein)
• Ezekiek Bread (2 slices = 8 grams protein)
• Hummus (1 pita + 2 tablespoons hummus = 7 grams protein)
• Spirulina (1 tablespoon = 4 grams protein)
• Peanut butter (2 tablespoons = 15 grams protein)
8. Learn how to build meal replacement shakes. Here’s a basic “recipe” to follow: 1 cup base liquid + 1 cup fruit + 1 cup greens + 1-2 Tablespoons add-in (like nut butters, chia seeds, or ice). If you’re stumped on which greens to use, read this article for fresh ideas.
9. Rotate your greens. While kale and spinach are excellent options, there are plenty of other even healthier choices available. While kale has a nutrient density score of 49.07, watercress ranks at 100.00, Chinese cabbage comes in at 91.99, Swiss chard has 89.27, and beet greens are at 87.08! Not sure how to cook these less common greens? Read this article for inspiration. What are your favorite health hacks? How do you make eating healthy and making smart choices easier for yourself?