1. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day; I could literally eat breakfast foods all day long! So I allow myself to really enjoy my morning meal, which makes it easier for me to make good choices the rest of the day because I feel like, “OK, I’ve had my treat.” Plus, you have time throughout the day to burn off those calories, unlike the handfuls of popcorn or bowl of cereal you eat after dinner…at 10pm. (If you are not a breakfast person, try to find foods that you enjoy in the am; it may take a little experimenting, but the effort will be worth it. If you love dinner, that’s fine – just watch those portions!)
It has been a little more challenging for me to eat lighter at night now that Luke and I are cooking more. In fact, I have become completely obsessed with the food delivery service, Blue Apron. But, making meals and sitting down to eat together has been such an enjoyable experience that I really don’t want to give that up for a silly little food rule. Therefore, I always give Luke the bigger portion (pictured above is his plate from last night – Filipino Adobo Steak) and eat a light dinner – or even just a snack – on the nights that we don’t eat together.
2. Find your staple foods and always have them handy. I recently read that healthy people tend to eat the same foods regularly, and this certainly is true for me. If you’ve been following me for a while, you already know that kale salads, sweet potatoes and quinoa are big staples in my kitchen. Additionally, I usually always have cans of black beans, chickpeas and oatmeal in the pantry, plus eggs, cherry tomatoes, spinach, Greek yogurt and other raw veggies in the fridge. If I have these items on hand at all times, I know that I can toss together a healthy meal that is also satisfying. Sure, everyone needs variety in a well-balanced diet, but I think that finding the healthy staple foods that work for you puts the focus on eating for nutrition, and eliminates the pressure of figuring out “what you’re craving at that moment.” Food should be enjoyed, but it doesn’t always need to be exciting.
(Meal prepping at it’s finest!)
3. No snack food in the house. This is one key way that I “set myself up for success.” With the exception of fruit, raw veggies and a box of Ak-Mak crackers I get from Trader Joe’s on occasion, I don’t keep any snacks in the house. Why tempt yourself like that? Does the snacking and nibbling you do at home really seem worth it? I’ve even stopped buying hummus when I started developing a habit of eating it with veggies while making dinner. (That’s usually what snacking is…a habit.) And you know what? I don’t miss it. And I certainly don’t miss the extra calories I was consuming right before sitting down to eat!
5. Eat veggies whenever possible. Now this is one habit I give you the green light on. You can’t eat too many veggies, unless of course, they are doused with butter Paula Dean-style. I usually eat two to three servings of veggies at lunch, along with baby carrots that I nibble on between bites. (I’m a fast eater and this helps slow me down). I usually get another serving or two of veggies in at dinner, and I always make it the focal point of my meal when I’m eating out.
I recently went to dinner at Mercer Kitchen in Soho with Luke and his mom. I enjoyed a small portion of the thin crust pizza and calamari appetizers, two glasses of champagne and this kale salad and side of asparagus for my main meal, even though they were listed as a “starter” and “side” on the menu. Oh, and I also had a few bites of an ice cream sundae for dessert! I ended the meal feeling very satisfied and still perfectly comfortable in my skinny jeans. Taste everything, eat nothing, as Bethenny says!
6. It’s OK to have dessert for breakfast. When I’m tempted to eat a bigger portion at dinner, or have a treat at night, I just think about enjoying breakfast the next day. This might sound weird, but reminding myself that I just need to go to sleep and then it’s time to eat again helps keep me from overindulging in the evenings. It’s a nice feeling to eat breakfast on a light stomach, plus who wouldn’t want to wake up to this Dark Chocolate Chunk “Cheesecake” Oatmeal Bake?!
7. Eat small portions of foods you really want. I recently went out to eat with friends at Brindle Room in the East Village. I started my meal with a light kale salad, but nothing else was really calling to me other than this big ol’ bowl of seafood pasta. I enjoyed about six big bites and took the rest home, which ended up being lunch the next day for both me and Luke. (Plus I added baby spinach for volume). Saving on calories and $$$ – winning!
And while I think there are no hard and fast “rules” when it comes to food, I do think it’s helpful to have general guidelines that help keep you on track in your everyday life, especially in the long-term. After all, we are taking about forming lifestyle habits here, friends – not quick fixes!
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*Need help with your health and lifestyle goals? Want to lose weight without obsessing about every bite you put into your mouth? I’m a Board Certified Health Coach + Emotional Eating Expert; contact me for a free consultation and let’s get started!