Eating Healthy With Minimal Effort

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It would not be an exaggeration to say that staying healthy and fit has been the most consistent and the most challenging struggle of my life. Growing up in a Ukranian household where eating all day is encouraged and not finishing whatever’s been heaped on your plate is an all-out slap in the face makes your relationship with food rather complicated.

It wasn’t until I moved out of my parents’ house that I learned how much crap I’d been eating and how difficult it was going to be to stop. Never doing anything half-way, I ended up becoming vegan, which to this day baffles my mother to no end. Then, a few months after that momentous decision, I realized that being vegan is actually not synonymous with being healthy, so I still had some work to do. And I’m still doing that work. In case you’re in a similar boat, here are a few tips that I’ve found to be helpful when trying to stay and eat healthy.

1. Always Have Your Staples

Literally the number one obstacle to you being healthy is that you probably have nothing but a bottle of ketchup and a jar of pickles in your fridge. Or is that just me? I’ve found that my ability to stay on track with eating healthier directly correlates to whether I’ve done some grocery shopping. At this point in time, you don’t even have to leave your house to grocery shop, so you really have no excuse. Order in from Instacart while you’re watching Netflix and high five yourself for being an adult. Your staples might vary from mine, but here are a few things I use on the daily:

· Oatmeal

· Rice

· Whole Wheat Bread

· Peanut Butter

· Canned Beans (don’t worry, I always opt for the BPA-free kind!)

· Frozen Fruit

· Choice of Milk (usually almond for me)

· Choice of Yogurt

· Pasta

· Variety of Hot Sauces

· A Few Hearty Veggies like Potatoes, Carrots and Cauliflower

2. Get Good at a Handful Of Recipes

You don’t need to be a chef, but you should be comfortable making 5–6 solid, healthy meals that can be thrown together in 30 minutes or less. The internet is your friend here, you can easily dig up AT LEAST that many. Play around with these recipes on your days off or when you are feeling particularly Barefoot Contessa-y. Once you have these recipes under your belt, they can be your easy go-to whenever you’re tempted by that UberEats app on your phone. A couple of things to keep in mind, your recipes should be:

· Hearty/Filling

· Require basic ingredients that you’re likely to have on hand

· Skip complicated machinery like immersion blenders or mandolin slicers (unless you have and like that kind of thing!)

3. Find and Follow a Few Food Bloggers

Again, this isn’t brain surgery, there are literally hundreds of awesome food bloggers out there, willing to send awesome new recipes your way. The benefit to finding a couple that you jive with is that you know you’re mostly on the same page with your flavor profiles, so you can trust whatever’s coming out of their kitchen. My personal favorites include Minimalist Baker, Chocolate-Covered Katie and Vegan Richa — all vegan, but even meat eaters can get behind their stuff!

4. Always Make Enough for Leftovers!

I cannot stress this enough. Whatever you plan to eat, double it! And be honest with yourself, if you always go back for seconds, make enough to accommodate that. No shame, I do it all the time. If you have leftovers, you are set for lunch the next day, which means you won’t be spending a ridiculous amount of money on an unhealthy lunch that will make you feel like a failure. Leftovers are your lifeline for work-friendly healthy eating. Get a cute little container at Target or, if you’re fancier, Etsy and get ready to be a responsible spendthrift.

5. Pack Everything In Advance

Whether it’s those leftovers that we just covered or your allotted snacks for the day, make sure to pack it all the night before. Even if you’re a morning person, there is just too much to do to remember all that packing and organizing in the morning. Again, pop on your favorite show or a sweet Spotify playlist and pack at a leisurely pace the night before, when things still make sense and you have hours and hours before you have to be at work again.

6. Do SOME Planning

I’m not going to say plan your weekly meals, because then I would be a big hypocrite. Planning your meals is annoying and, chances are, you won’t be in the mood for whatever you slotted for that Wednesday dinner. While I completely gave up on planning a week out, I do find it really helpful to brainstorm my dinner options while I’m commuting back from work (this also works if you drive). Mentally scan your cupboards and your fridge and try to come up with a plan of attack; if no new inspiration is striking, go to one of your handy, tried-and-true recipe options. The key here is to make up your mind before you get home and get stuck staring into your fridge like a starving zombie.

7. Don’t Obsess

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again — if you don’t always succeed with healthy eating, it’s not the end of the world. More importantly, if you fail at one meal, don’t give up on the entire day. That salad for lunch CAN and DOES cancel out the four donuts you ate for breakfast! I really, really believe that.

I think you’re ready to give this healthy eating thing a try. It all begins with a single step: a healthy internet search. You can do it, I have total faith in your ability to Google.