The best way to begin eating healthier is to make small changes to the way you eat now. Start by stocking your refrigerator with heart-health in mind and make it work for you. This will make sensible foods more accessible and will set you up for success. These days, we are all busy and looking for convenience when we plan our meals and snacks. The tips below may sound a little time-consuming at first, but once you rearrange the items in your fridge and do a little "prep" work, you and your family will be rewarded with quicker, easier meal planning and better heart health-a win-win situation!
1. When you get home from the grocery store, take time to chop up all your fresh fruits and vegetables.
Portion them in zipper bags or containers to make them a ready-to-grab snack when hunger strikes. If you can't find time, consider buying them already chopped, although they are often more expensive that way.
2. Place ready-to-eat healthy items (fruits and vegetables, Greek yogurt, 1-ounce portions of low-fat cheese, hummus) on front shelves of the refrigerator.
Then they are within reach when you need a snack. Plus, you will have less spoilage if these items are within sight, reminding you to eat them.
3. Place favorite indulgent foods in the crisper to hide them
Out of sight, out of mind. Or better yet, try eating them only when out of the house, so they don't tempt you at home.
4. Replace some foods with lower-fat alternatives.
- Replace whole milk with nonfat or 1 percent milk.
- Replace butter or stick margarine with tub margarine spread or sprays (with 0 grams of trans fat).
- Replace fattier cuts of meat for leaner ones (chicken or turkey breast, pork loin, beef sirloin or fish).
5. Prepare extra portions of a meal in order to have leftovers.
Portion them into individual servings for homemade, healthy "TV dinners." Take one for lunch the next day. Or freeze the portions and defrost for an easy meal at a later time.
6. Check your beverage shelf and consider stocking only nutritious, lower-calorie choices.
For example, nonfat or 1 percent milk, water and one type of 100 percent fruit juice if you drink juice (for example, orange juice). If you want more choices, consider keeping only calorie-free, sugar-free choices. Unsweetened iced tea or coffee are more natural choices, but if you have to have sweetness, choose diet soda or Crystal Light. Not having your favorite sugar-containing drinks on hand may encourage you to drink more water and consume fewer calories and less sugar.