By Lauren Powell, MD/BlackDoctor.Org
Making lifestyle changes isn’t always the easiest, especially when it comes to eating habits. To make this change a bit easier for you, we’ve listed 5 simple steps you can take today to get the ball rolling!
1. Eat More Plants
The data is strong: the more plants you eat, the lower your risk of disease. If you’re a meat lover, I’m not suggesting that you become a vegetarian tomorrow. Instead, I am suggesting that you choose dishes that you love and add more vegetables to them. Last week I made spaghetti with mushrooms, spinach, carrots, and onions!
It was so filling and hearty that no one noticed there wasn’t any meat in the dish. Challenge yourself with one meal a day or one day a week to go without meat, and instead add more vegetables. I promise your body will thank you.
2. Drink Water
Simple right? Water should be your primary beverage. Say no to soda, juices, and sweet tea. If you want to have juice, make it yourself. Oranges are great for you, but orange juice purchased from your grocery store is full of added sugar; that’s why it tastes so different compared to an orange.
Don’t waste your calories on sugary beverages; instead, drink water equivalent to half your weight in ounces. I used to end my evenings with a glass of wine (okay, maybe two glasses), and I felt like those calories were catching up with me. So now I have sparkling flavored water in the evenings. Wine is reserved for date nights with my husband.
3. Avoid Processed Foods
I know, I know, but it’s just so convenient. The problem with processed food is all the things that are added to it.
4. Cook More
For some, this is a huge challenge. But I want to let you off the hook. Don’t think you have to make this glamorous three-course meal. Cooking takes practice so if you burn a few things, it’s okay. I promise you’ll burn less with practice.
If cooking an entire meal is overwhelming, start by just cooking sides and purchasing a rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store. A partly-cooked meal is better than an entirely bought meal.
5. Meal Prep
I make my worst nutritional decisions when I’m hungry, limited on time, and have to make a quick decision. And every single time, I regret that decision two hours later. Preparing for your week is crucial. Planning your meals, if that includes planning your carryout lunch, is crucial. Pack snacks, prepare your lunch ahead of time and plan your dinner.
I divide my week in half since preparing for an entire week in one day is a bit overwhelming. On Sundays, I prep and plan the meals for Monday through Wednesday, and then on Wednesdays I plan for the remainder of the week.