Excited to have my friend Brandice from The Grace Filled Plate on the blog today!
I'm not sure if my brain actually froze or if it just cramped as I looked over the list of foreign ingredients for this "healthy" recipe. I began to add up the cost of purchasing five new spices, then cringed, and swiped the recipe away on my phone. And, so I proceeded to buy the makings for an ordinary meal I was confident my family would like.
I sighed in frustration as my efforts to make better choices eluded me, once again. Would things ever change? Yes, but not in the way I expected!
Have you ever been there? Your heart desires to live a healthy life that glorifies God and yet the gulf separating you seems far too wide. The truth is, it can be.
Thankfully, there is another way.
If the idea of eating 100% healthy today overwhelms you or if your efforts to eat "perfectly" crash with one slip that turns into a food-fest, I'm here to help. In this post, you'll learn simple hacks that will improve the quality of your diet and won't cause overwhelm or lead to all-or-nothing thinking.
These are small wins you can do in 5 minutes or less that will build your confidence and make you feel like a rockstar.
1. Downsize Your Dish
Did you know that the size of your plate can impact how much you eat? Researchers have concluded that the diameter of your plate changes your perception of how much you are eating. Diners eating from large dishes were apt to eat more food as they perceived their portion to be small against the backdrop of a large plate.
On the other hand, diners eating the same portion from smaller plates stopped sooner as their small plates made their portions seem abundant.
What to do:
Break out a measuring tape and see how large your dinner plates are. If yours measure 12" or more, it's time to shop! There is need to purchase a whole new set-- Rather, head to a local retailer and pick-up a single plate to get you started.
2. Let Veggies Invade Your Plate
It's no secret that eating vegetables is a healthful practice, but if the idea of eating mountains of steamed broccoli makes you cringe, this makeover is for you. You see, veggies are anything but boring when they're treated with a little creativity and lots of flavor.
What's so great about vegetables? Well, not only are they loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, but they are very low in calories. This means you get to eat more, fill up, and support your health and weight loss goals!
What to do:
The easiest way to get started is to add or increase the veggies in your current meals.
For example, if you are cooking marinara sauce (jarred or homemade) add diced peppers, onions, mushrooms, and even zucchini as you simmer. This works great for chili, tacos, casseroles, and more.
Another hack is to double-up the vegetables your recipes call for. From stir-fries to burger patties, extra veggies can make any meal better for you.
3. Upgrade Just ONE Thing
It's not uncommon for family-favorite recipes to miss the mark nutritionally. Carb-heavy, butter-laden dishes do taste great but, if eaten regularly, can be detrimental to our health.
Rather than causing a revolt amongst your loved ones, consider reducing or swapping out just ONE ingredient for a healthier alternative.
Hint: keep the upgrade a secret because chances are they won't notice a difference!
What to do:
Pick one unhealthy dinner recipe that is in your regular rotation. Then, try one of these tweaks:
• Reduce butter, oil, cream, mayonnaise, or sugar by half.
• Swap out white pasta for whole grain pasta, or spaghetti squash or Zoodles.
• Use non-fat, plain Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise or sour cream.
• Swap out white rice for whole grain brown rice, millet, quinoa or cauliflower rice.
4. Make It Pretty
For our 10th anniversary, my husband and I had the privilege to go to a high-end restaurant where the food was prepared with finesse. After poring over the menu, our meals were carefully placed before us. They were nothing short of artistic.
We shaved off one bite at a time, savoring each taste. And, even though the portions were small, we left fully satisfied.
While it would be unrealistic to expect MasterChef creations in our daily lives, we can learn from these experiences. Taking the time to assemble our meals, to sit down, and to make eating an event leads to greater physical and mental satisfaction.
This would be the opposite of mindlessly munching on a bag of chips while watching TV. That's all the calories; none of the satisfaction.
What to do:
Add an additional 5 minutes to your cook time one day this week and take a moment to plate your food beautifully (to the best of your ability). No need to be fancy, simply a sprinkle of spice or a sprig of a fresh herb can make all the difference.
Or, break out your nice dishes or pick up a pack of pretty, disposable napkins. See if those little touches make your meal feel more special!
5. The Power of Small Changes
The small changes we make in how we eat may seem insignificant. However, we miss the fact that drastic change is hard to sustain and that small, sustainable habits STICK.
I found my healthy lifestyle by upgrading one habit at a time. I started trying new meals and little by little my husband came around to this new way of eating. Now we both enjoy nourishing meals--most of the time :)
Don't Forget Your Free Download!
If you struggle to make healthy changes in how you eat, I've got a little something for you. Oftentimes, our challenges with food overflow from other imbalanced areas of our lives (stress, anyone?). If this sounds familiar to you, check out this FREE guide: 5 Strategies to Improve Your Diet Without Changing What You Eat. In it, you will find simple solutions that will make healthy choices easier!
Brandice is a nutrition coach and blogger at Grace Filled Plate. She teaches women how to ditch diets and restriction and find peace with food through God's grace. Grace that overflows into a healthy lifestyle.