Dining out is a well-known gateway to unhealthy choices. There’s a myriad of posts – some written by yours truly – full of tips to get you through the restaurant experience without sacrificing your health goals.
But what about the other piece of the dining pie? While we may be in restaurants these days more than ever, we’re in our own kitchen more. It’s easier to maintain healthier habits at home when compared to a restaurant – there’s no waiter refilling your chips or oh-so-casually walking by with a dessert cart – but with these simple tricks in place, you can make it even easier, effortlessly!
How to Hack Your Kitchen Mindfully
Dish Up Wisely
Dishing up at the counter as opposed to the table (a.k.a. Family style) can save you major calories. Having to get up to serve yourself more – even when it’s just a few steps – can be enough of a barrier to stop and consider, “Do I really want more? Am I actually still hungry?”.
Serve – or eat – the salad first. Starting off your meal with the healthiest item not only ensures you get your veggies in, but sets the tone for the meal.
Pack away leftovers as soon as you plate your food. This acts as another barrier from mindlessly noshing after dinner, plus it’s healthier from a food safety standpoint. Ever gone to bed only to awake to find last night’s dinner on the counter instead of in the fridge? I have, and throwing out my homemade meal is something I’d rather not do again!
Watch Your Wares
Large plates and bowls may look good in your Instagram photos, but they don’t look good on your waistline. We tend to eat what’s in front of us, and with the common 11”-12” dinner plates sold today, we’re serving ourselves overstuffed portions. Buying 9”-10” plates – or using your salad plate as a dinner plate – will help control your portion size and, in turn, your jeans size.
Hopefully you’re drinking water with your meals, but for those times you aren’t sipping H2O, a tall slim glass is the way to go. According to a 2003 study, we pour based on height. Bartenders poured around 20%-30% more alcohol into short and wide 10oz tumblers than their tall and slim 10oz highball counterparts. (Wansink & Van Ittersum 2003). I promise that your wine will taste just as delicious no matter what glass you use!
Our eyes often trump our stomachs when it comes to food. Put this to your advantage by keeping fruit on your countertops instead of chips and sugary treats. Having a bowl of apples ripe for the taking improves the odds of your grabbing a healthy snack versus mindless filler.
Take this out-of-sight-out-of-mind mentality to your cupboards by being savvy in selecting your storage canisters. Store your healthy items in clear containers and those occasional treats in opaque containers. It’s harder to be tempted by cookies and chips when you don’t see them every time you open a cabinet!
Strategic placement is also something to consider. Keep your healthiest items front and center in your fridge and pantry for easy accessibility and eliminate the decision of what to munch on.
Quality Over Quantity
Having veggies front and center in the fridge is good, but having them cut and ready to eat is great. Cutting up vegetables in bulk makes it easier to grab for a snack, and also to toss into dishes when you’re cooking, for a nutritional boost.
No time to prep in bulk? You’re not alone! There’s a reason stores offer pre-cut, ready-to-go vegetables, so take advantage. Baby carrots are a staple in my fridge! On-the-go single serving snacks are a great option for your non-stop days. String cheese, single serving yogurts and hummus cups make perfect healthy snacks minus the prep.
You can’t eat the junk you don’t have. Avoid purchasing chips and other treats in bulk, or don’t keep them at home in the first place. If you have teenage boys (or a husband like mine!), this may be unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to derail you. Having a dedicated junk cabinet can help as often it’s easier to completely avoid something all together, than see it and resist it over and over. If you can’t buy single serving bags, make your own and avoid mindless from-the-bag snacking.
While the pounds won’t suddenly drop from your waist after implementing these strategies, you’ll be seamlessly set up for success in the long run!