I can’t lie to you. The thought of healthy eating – well – it used to make me want to gauge my eyes out with celery sticks. I mean, why bother? I just want to live my best life. I didn’t need that constant “negativity” of the little voice in my head telling me I should at least try to lighten up my food just a little bit – or that it’s actually possible to eat satisfying treats that won’t put you in an early grave.
One thing I’ve learned on my wellness journey is that getting healthy doesn’t have to be painful – in fact, it shouldn’t be. It’s not a punishment, it’s a gift to yourself.
And, the more barriers you can reduce in your journey – especially for healthy eating – the better. (Okay, I guess that’s two things I’ve learned.) There is actually behavioral science behind barriers – even the smallest most simple barrier, reduces your chance of doing the desired outcome. So, for example, if you want to eat more healthy snacks, and you are starving, with the choice between an apple and a candy bar… if that apple is pre-sliced and in a grab-and-go container in your fridge, you’re exponentially more likely to choose the apple over the candy bar. But if the apple isn’t sliced and ready? Candy bar it is.
Healthy eating can be a big mind game, and setting yourself up for success, with quick and easy tips, can help set you off in the right direction. The key is to think about removing any barriers you can. If that means slicing apples and splashing them with lemon juice so they won’t brown, do it. If that means cooking a bunch of sweet potatoes and quinoa and roasting veggies on a Sunday, to use in recipes for the rest of the week, do it. Sit down and figure out what your barriers to health are – what is stopping you from making healthy choices? Then, find ways to eliminate those barriers.
These are three simple tricks that helped me remove barriers over the past year, as I’ve been working on losing weight, toning up, and feeling healthier.
Greek Yogurt All The Things
I really underestimated the power of Greek yogurt. When it first became popular, I thought it tasted like actual vomit, but the flavor has improved immensely over the years, and now I’m a signed, sealed, and delivered fan for life. I am a huge believer in full fat dairy (read more about why full fat dairy is better for health and weight loss here), so I opt for full fat, plain Greek yogurt. Organic, preferred, but I’m not trying to bust your budget here.
A few of my all-time favorite Greek yogurt hacks are:
- Using it as a replacement for sour cream. It’s lower in fat, calories, and higher in protein, so you stay fuller, longer.
- Turning it into a high-protein ranch dip for salads and veggies
- Use 1 large container of plain Greek yogurt, and mix in two ranch dressing dry seasoning packets. Easy peasy, and insanely delicious. You’ll never go back to regular ranch dressing again.
- Making an indulgent yet protein-packed “dessert” dip
- Take one part Greek yogurt and one half part ricotta cheese and blend together. Drizzle in some raw honey (so much healthier than processed, and here’s why), and a sprinkling of mini semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (cacao nibs if you’re really feeling frisky), and sit down to enjoy a healthy cannoli dip. You can dip fruit in it – or – if you’re anything like me, just grab a spoon and have at the bowl.
I have also used it to thicken soups and add creaminess to a variety of dishes. Typically “creamy” isn’t a word one associates with healthy eating, but it surely applies to this hack. The sky is really the limit here. Play around with it and let us know what you like best!
Rotisserie chickens, are, in my opinion, the bomb.com. (Does anyone else even say that anymore?) I can get an absolutely delicious chicken that likely tastes better than one I make at home (I have a bad tendency to really, really overcook chicken, for fear of salmonella), for $5 at Costco. And use it in a boatload of meals over the next few days.
Sometimes I feel a little like Forrest Gump when listing out all the meals I love to make with rotisserie chicken: chicken sandwiches, chicken wraps, chicken tacos, chicken salad, chicken on salad, chicken soup, chicken pot pie, chicken burritos, chicken quesadillas, chicken casserole – the possibilities are endless.
My current favorite is rotisserie chicken soft tacos. Two 6-inch corn tortillas, topped with bits of rotisserie chicken, a dab of Greek yogurt (boom, two hacks in one!), a spoonful of fresh salsa, and generous sprinkling of cilantro. You will hardly believe this is a healthy eating – the flavors will seriously knock your socks off. The visual appeal is equally delicious and very Instagrammable, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Snack Bags For All
I’m a little embarrassed to admit my final hack – I really do try to be eco-conscious and environmentally-friendly, but when it comes to my wellness, it’s all about removing those barriers. If I can put it in a snack bag, I absolutely will. I can’t even tell you how much easier this makes my life – both for me, and the kids.
Long day of errands? Grab a snack bag. Kids hungry? Grab a snack bag. Have the late-night munchies? Grab a snack bag.
Each week, I try to spend some time making these grab – n – go bags. Occasionally I’ll put them in little containers if possible, but the key here is ease. 20 minutes max, once or twice a week, will save you so much stress. I make bad decisions when I’m hungry, and the last thing I want to do when famished, is prepare a healthy snack. If it’s already in a container or bag, the work is already done, and all I have to do is pop it open and dive in. Easy peasy.
I love the tiny zip top snack-size bags (shown above with carrots, and above that, with frozen grapes – one of my favorite healthy sweets). These are the perfect size for snacks on the go, and each bag equals a full serving of fruits and veggies in my meal plan. If I’m feeling saucy, I’ll add in a single-serve guacamole or hummus for dipping.
These three simple healthy eating hacks have been absolute game-changers in my wellness journey. So simple, yet so incredibly effective. Whatever it takes to keep you on track – take it and run with it. And if you have any healthy hacks that you want to share with us, please do! I’d love to hear your ideas, and you might even be featured in an upcoming Wellness Wednesday on our Daily Mom Instagram account.