Tips for healthy eating with busy lives

Published 9:48 am Friday, September 9, 2011

By Amy Pleimling, Dietitian Speaks

Back to school, back to routine!

With all the fun and activities that a Minnesota summer brings, it also brings less of a routine. This goes for food and meals as well. If you are like me and my family, dinner planning has gone by the wayside and dinner time has gotten pushed later and later throughout the summer. Summer is ending and no time like the present to get back into the swing of things with healthy family meals and snacks.

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The key to healthy meals and snacks is pre-planning. Customers at Hy-Vee tell me they feel they do know what to eat to be healthy; they just don’t always put this knowledge into practice. Why is it that we can very easily understand what is healthy, but actually practicing what we know is not so easy? These are things I work on every day — for myself and for my customers.

Do any of these sound familiar?

• You know you should eat meals from home more, especially at lunch time, but you forget to pack your lunch in the morning because you’d rather sleep those extra few minutes; so you end up getting something quick for lunch (again).

• You know you should exercise to be healthy, but you really cannot find time in your schedule to fit this in (but you also feel tired a lot?).

• You are so starving after work that you snack on the way home, at home, while cooking and then eat a full dinner meal.

• You actually did take the steps to purchase fresh produce, but then you tucked in the back of the fridge or in the crisper and by the time you noticed it, it was already bad.

These things (and many others) happen to all of us for sure! No one is perfect, but I can tell you one thing — eating well-balanced, regular meals and snacks will help you with some of those things that are difficult to put into practice. It will then be easier for you to make better choices as the day goes on and will lead to less calories overall. Don’t strive to be perfect. Look at your day and your routine and pick one or two things you know you could improve upon. Then, set a realistic, specific, yet somewhat challenging goal for yourself and take action.

Let’s take lunches for example: If you eat out every day for lunch and you know that as part of a healthy diet eating out should ultimately be limited, pick this as a goal to work on. Set a goal you know you can live with — like possibly packing your lunch two to three times out of five for the week. Make a grocery list for your lunches for the week, go shopping and stick to the list. I know this doesn’t sound like rocket science, but it works. You might even go one step further and prepare some things that you can have all week in your lunches — such as, open that bag of carrots and divvy them into snack bags for quick, easy lunch planning. Packing that lunch two times instead of eating out could save you 1,000 calories or more per week, which would lead to weight loss of over a pound per month.

A few small efforts will give you major rewards!

Amy’s tips for getting back to a healthy routine:

• Always (always) eat breakfast.

• Never skip meals. In fact, have two to three snacks throughout the day, too!

• Take some time once a week to plan some quick and healthy dinner meals for you and your family.

• Write a grocery list based on the meals you planned.

• Keep produce in sight on the counter or front of the fridge.

• Keep healthy snacks in front of the cupboard and tuck unhealthy snacks in back.

• Drink lots of water.

• Try very hard to practice portion control.

• Have two to three “go-to” dinners that you know you can always whip up that are healthy and simple, and always keep those items on hand.

Eating right and being active leads to better health — we all know it but like Nike says, just do it!

Amy Pleimling is the dietitian at the Hy-Vee grocery store in Albert Lea.