Hey Fam, Happy New Year!
It’s officially 2024. I am so excited for what this year has in store for all of us! Now that the holidays are over, it’s the perfect time to reset and focus. We already know life gets busy, and we need to prioritize ourselves and our health to make sure that we are healthy enough to crush our goals!
Reset & Reflect
Focusing on health sets my body up to get back into action after the holidays. By eating healthy and fueling your body with the right nutrients, you will have the strength and energy to not just keep up, but thrive in 2024.
We all know that our grocery bills are way up these days and that eating fresh fruits and vegetables definitely costs a bit more, but investing in healthier food will pay dividends in how you feel and your health over your life. And by teaching your children healthy eating habits you are helping them to have a healthy life too! There are lots of options for healthy foods, like frozen fruits and vegetables, which are often picked at their peak season, and also buying in bulk (like at Costco) helps, too!
Meal planning: your secret weapon.
It’s easy to look for convenient on-the-go options when it comes to meal times. So I can’t stress enough how important meal planning is for eating healthy. It removes the temptation because you have a plan.
Whether you plan your breakfast, lunch, dinner, or possibly all three; by planning ahead you will save yourself time and energy. Usually this makes a difference later in the work week when you are more likely to be tired, over-scheduled, and then not want to plan dinner/grocery shop. No more second guessing what you are eating when and where. You have a plan!
The easiest way for many busy moms to do this is to spend an hour on Saturday or Sunday meal planning, taking stock of the refrigerator and pantry, and then either going grocery shopping (or sending Dad or teens!!) or doing an Instacart order. I actually have found that I spend less time and money overall by shopping on Instacart, because I don’t forget things or buy things I don’t need. [If you’ve never tried Instacart, it literally saves me hours of time, and you can get $10-$50 off with referral code: ABURLESON1711BC ]. I love it because I can take my time, sip my coffee, review my recipes, check my spice rack, pantry, and fridge, and get everything that I need, and nothing that I don’t.
Trust me, I know it seems like meal planning is just another chore on the list, but a few minutes each weekend saves you hours of time throughout the week. Sometimes it helps to start small, for example with pre-planning 4 dinners/week, and work up from there.
Tips, Tricks and All the Kicks
One of the easiest ways to analyze your diet is to pay attention to how you feel after you eat. Are you energized? Are you comfortable? Or are you bloated, sluggish, or grouchy? Your body tells you exactly how it feels about how we fuel it. The best thing we can do is simply listen. Here are some of the tips and tricks that I live by:
- Avoid processed food – I know we can’t avoid it 100% of the time, but try to choose whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and items prepared at home when you can. Your body will thank you!
- Eat the rainbow – Humans are visual creatures, and science has shown that one way to get all of the essential vitamins and minerals you need it to focus on eating all of the colors of the rainbow.
- Red fruits and vegetables like beets, tomatoes, red berries, and red peppers or red onions all contain lycopene which helps support healthy brain and cardiovascular function, as well as helps prevent breast cancer.
- Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables like oranges, carrots, peppers, bananas, pineapples, and potatoes contain carotenoids which help support a healthy immune system, eyesight, decrease inflammation, and helps your skin to be healthy.
- Green fruits and vegetables are usually high in vitamin K, potassium and good healthy fiber, and dozens of other minerals I can’t pronounce. These are big, especially if you are pregnant or want to be, because they usually contain a lot of folic acid which helps support healthy development. My go-to healthy greens are broccoli, spinach, arugula, kale, brussels sprouts, asparagus, kiwi fruit, and green tea.
- Blue and purple fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that help cognitive function and lower your blood pressure, which reduces risk of stroke and heart attack. My favorite blue and purple plant based options are blueberries, blackberries, purple cabbages, eggplant, and grapes and plums.
- White and brown fruits and vegetables contain compounds that are anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, antiviral, and anti inflammatory. Examples include onions, mushrooms, cauliflower, and garlic. Just don’t forget a breath mint!
- Fruit is your friend – Fruit is my go to snack. Do you need something sweet? Grab fruit! You want dessert and want to keep low in calories? Grab Fruit! You need to eat something quick and on the go? You guessed it… grab fruit!
- Focus on the right foods – When you do need to grab a snack, focus on what that snack can offer you. Reach for proteins; nuts, hard boiled eggs, yogurt or cottage cheese. Enjoy healthy fats like avocados and nut butters. You can even combine the two – who doesn’t love avocado toast? You just fueled yourself with a snack full of protein, healthy fats and fiber, but you also enjoyed something purely delicious!
- Kick it up a notch with flavor – Condiments can be your best friend when you need to add a little flavor here and there. Using condiments and spices can take “boring and bland” foods to the next level. Spice up your chicken with garlic and onions, or keep carbs low by adding a low calorie/high flavor option like mustard, vinegar or hot sauce to a healthy meal.
Favorite Meal and On-The-Go Method
When life gets busy one way that I have simplified meal planning successfully is the jar method of meal planning. It involved preparing ahead in bulk whatever you plan to eat for the week, and then you build your individual meals ahead of time in canning jars.
I first started when my kids little. I was constantly on the go and I realized my diet wasn’t as healthy because I was too busy trying to feed the kids healthy foods! But I still use it today, especially on days where I am constantly running around because of everyone’s crazy school and sport schedules
You’ll want to start by getting yourself a set of mason jars. Cook your protein in bulk, I would grill a few pounds of chicken breast. I liked to add my protein on the day of, but you can also layer your protein in the the jar. Then add your favorite greens and veggies, or fruit depending on your salad/meal preference. Then seal them up and place in your fridge for the week. Now you have a healthy meal you can eat at home or take on the go! You can also use this method for protein/rice/greens bowls, smoothie prep, yogurt or acai parfait prep, or overnight oats depending on what you want to eat that week.
If you take away one thing from this blog- I hope that it is this: happiness and health starts from within. The fuel that you put into your body on a daily basis dictates how you feel, how you perform both physically and mentally, and also your overall health. If you are going to stick to one healthy goal for yourself for 2024, it should be optimizing your diet. Eat healthy and whole foods, and as many fresh fruits and vegetables as you can. Your body and mind will thank you!
Stay healthy and happy this year!