Eating well is all about moderation. Of course, it’s important to eat nutritious foods but sometimes it’s okay to indulge as well. Constantly missing out on delicious family recipes or never having a piece of dessert, just to be healthier, is no fun and not manageable in the long run. Instead, focus on the big picture. Have that piece of pie, but the next day eat extra fruits and veggies. A little smart variation your diet will allow you to still enjoy your favorite dishes but ensure you’re getting enough of the wholesome foods and nutrients your body needs.
Here are some of my favorite tips for maintaining a smart, balanced diet:
Meal prep – I cook food on Saturday or Sunday to make sure I always have some deliciously nutritious foods on hand for the whole week. Some of my favorite items to prepare ahead of time are roasted squash, steamed greens and sliced vegetables. I also like to cook up some kind of protein such as pulled pork tenderloin or chicken, lean meatballs, dried beans, etc. After a busy day at work, I know I’ll have a wholesome, homemade dinner ready to go.
Eat tons of produce – All produce has some nutritional benefits so stocking up on fruits and veggies is a great idea to help you stay balanced. Incorporate veggies into your morning eggs or have some grapes for a snack. If your kitchen is stocked with delicious fruits and vegetables, you’re more likely to include them in a meal.
Pack your breakfast with protein – Greek yogurt is full of protein and a great breakfast or snack choice. I make sure to have a variety on hand for a quick breakfast whenever I’m in a rush. Having enough protein in your breakfast will help to keep you full for longer and prevent unhealthy cravings later. Other good protein sources are eggs, beans and nuts, which can be served with toast or a smoothie.
Stock up on low-calorie beverages – Of course water is the best choice for you but drinks such as tea and coffee are also great choices. When you feel like munching but are not actually hungry, have a cup of tea – it just might satisfy your cravings. Sometimes dehydration can be mistaken for hunger.
Keep the pantry well stocked – Having nutritious foods on hand and ready to go makes smart eating a lot easier. Favorites include no-salt-added diced tomatoes, beans, tuna, salsa, pasta sauce, whole-grain pasta and more. If you stock your pantry full of cookies and chips, that’s what you’re going to find yourself snacking on more often than you might like!
Fit in exercise when you can – You will feel your best when you get some exercise in. Even if you only have 10 minutes, go on a walk or lift some hand weights. Every little bit counts. I like to exercise in the morning on a day where I know I will eat more indulgent foods. For example, if we are having pizza for dinner, I make sure that I try to sneak in some exercise to help balance everything out.
Mix up your snacks – Having a piece of fruit for your snack everyday would be a healthy option, but it might not leave you completely satisfied. Feel free to mix up your snack options. Great snacks include an apple with nut butter, cottage cheese with almonds and whole-grain crackers with hummus.
Balance Bar® Original and Gold bars are also deliciously nutritious options. With over 20 vitamins and minerals and just the right Balance of protein, carbs and dietary fat, they provide sustained nutrition when you’re on the go or between meals. And if you’re managing allergies or diet restrictions, all Balance® bare bars are gluten free, soy free and certified non-GMO!
Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
*Amanda Hernandez writes awesome articles as a paid spokesperson for Balance Bar®. We also send her delicious Balance Bar® products for free, so…best job ever? And speaking of deliciousness, check out the incredible new Sweet & Spicy Nut Balance bare® bar.