In my last article, we were working off the idea that great abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. This simply means that when it comes to getting a lean hard body, our dietary habits are of equal if not greater importance to how hard we are training. There is no question that resistance training and cardio work are an integral part of the process but it is far too easy to sabotage our efforts in the gym with an unsupportive diet. I think you get the idea. And most people who are in the gym understand it, in concept, but changing our dietary habits requires much more than simply creating a meal plan. Our eating habits are partly a function of our daily routine. So it is really this daily routine that needs to be examined. In other words, what can we do on a daily basis to facilitate change in our eating habits?
Life gets busy for all of us. Add kids into the mix and “hectic” becomes an understatement. So learning to plan ahead is the single most important action you can take to set yourself (and your family) up for success. In fact, everything on this list is sort of the offspring of planning ahead. After all, our dietary habits are based on our daily routine.
Be a Tupperware Mom
My golfing buddies are always teasing me, calling me a “Tupperware Mom” because I’m always pulling some type of container out of my golf bag with snacks or my lunch in it. And though it is funny, I actually take pride in it. And you should too! You will be really surprised when you begin to PLAN AHEAD at the number of situations where you could bring a healthy breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner. My neighbors took their kids on a weeklong road trip to the Grand Canyon and never ate out once, simply by planning ahead. It’s amazing what 2 coolers can hold!
Key Kitchen Items
Below is a short list of helpful kitchen items you can obtain that will assist you in more becoming more consistent with healthy eating:
My Mom sent one of these to me for Christmas a few years ago and it has become one of the most useful appliances in my kitchen. Cooking does not get any easier than this. Add ingredients and turn it on. It’s that simple. Do this in the morning and when you return home for the day, dinner is done. And the best part is that slow cookers are generally pretty big so you will have healthy leftovers for days. Brilliant!
Blender or Juicer
Your blender can make a lot more than tasty frozen margaritas! In fact, it may be the most useful appliance in your kitchen for quick nutrient dense meals. One of my favorites is a handful of kale, a handful of spinach, an apple, ginger root and coconut water. Blend. Done. And just as with the slow-cooker, there are hundreds of recipes online. Blenders also hold quite a bit of stuff so you can make multiple servings at once.
You don’t have to go out and buy $200 worth of Tupperware to build a fine set of storage and to-go containers. Reuse the containers your food comes in! Put that cottage cheese container in the dishwasher and the next morning you have the perfect container for that fruit salad going in your lunch box. After all, the best recycling is reuse.
Washing, drying and tearing up lettuce for salads everyday sucks. So do it once a week instead. Cut a bunch of it up, throw it in the spinner, rinse and spin. The spinner IS the storage container so just throw it in the fridge and your salad is ready for the week!
Buy In Bulk and Cook In Bulk
Regardless of how well we plan ahead, life will throw us curves that will invariably leave us short on time. So when we DO have time lets use it wisely. My dad still to this day does all of his bulk cooking on lazy Sundays watching sports and working around the house. In the morning he might start something in the slow cooker and then sit down to watch a football game while cutting up a big fruit salad. Later, he might throw 8 chicken breasts in the oven then go mow the grass. By days end he has done most of the cooking for his busy workweek, all while working in the yard and watching his favorite teams play. The moral of the story being that through better use of our time, we can better prepare ourselves for the busy times, so that our nutrition does not suffer.
Keep a Food Journal
I first did this as a project in 9th grade health class. Wow, what a lesson! Keeping account of everything you eat and drink even for a week is a huge eye opener. Financial experts suggest we do this often with our spending to see where our money is being spent. The goal being to see where the money leaks are so we can create a financial plan to tighten up our spending. Well, the same principle applies to our nutrition. ShapeFit has a free food journal you can download and use.
Keep Your Kitchen Clean
This seemingly insignificant little habit does wonders in creating healthy eating habits. No one feels like going into a messy kitchen and trying to figure out something healthy to make. Especially if you are short on time. Same goes for your refrigerator. Clean out all of the old condiments and junk that have been cluttering it up and fill it with fresh produce, lean meats, eggs and other essential healthy foods.
So, in remembering that “great abs are made in our kitchens”, lets prepare those kitchens for the necessary work to be done there. All of these tips are really just a way to make the preparation of quick healthy meals at home MORE convenient than “eating out”. With our plan in action we can easily make a healthy meal in less time than it takes to drive to the nearest fast food place. The whole idea is create an environment in your kitchen that fosters healthy eating until it becomes a HABIT.