Busting Out of a Food Rut
Sometimes when I think I’m in a groove, I look around and realize I’m stuck in a rut. That happens with food. I get lazy and start eating what I feel like, without paying as much attention to what would be better for me.
Breaking out of that rut can be challenging. Making healthier decisions when I’m hungry rarely works, so I need a strategy. Here are a few of the techniques that have helped me and my clients build better habits.
Gamify your food. Give yourself 2 points for each serving of healthy foods like whole fruit, vegetables or high fiber grains. Subtract 5 points for unhealthy choices like full-sugar soda, fatty meats, salty chips or high-sugar desserts. If you don’t end the day in the positive, re-think some of those choices.
Try eating at least five colors of fruit and vegetables a day: a red apple, green spinach, yellow onion, blueberries and orange bell pepper. See how many color varieties you can fit into each day.
Take the salad challenge. See how many days you can go before you repeat a salad recipe. Make sure your choices aren’t buried in calorie-dense dressings. If you use the recipes on WeEatFit.com, you’ll go for at least 60 days.
Subscribe to a meal delivery service. Some provide complete meals, and all you have to do is reheat them. Others send all the fresh ingredients, and you’re required to slice, dice and put them together. If you’re trying to learn more about preparing things, the ones that you have to assemble will teach you more. After you understand what to do, you can cancel the subscription and buy the ingredients yourself.
Take a class and learn from the experts. You can find options at local colleges and community centers. There’s also great information on YouTube for free. Search for videos from your favorite celebrity chef, or if you don’t have one, type in, “learn how to cook healthy food.”
Explore cooking with a new kitchen gadget. Try making crock-pot recipes for a month or some instant pot creations. Get a steamer for your vegetables or an air fryer. A device can expose you to new flavors and combinations.
Try cooking things differently. If you’ve always cooked chicken in a pan of grease, find a recipe to bake it in the oven. Instead of boiling vegetables, cook them on a grill. Take eggs out of a pan and bake them in a muffin tin. You can use the ingredients you’re already familiar with; just prepare things in a different way.
Choose the food from another country. Get a list of dishes from someplace you visited or want to see. There are hundreds of incredible choices from Asia, Africa, the Mediterranean or South America. Choose the more traditional options; they tend to be healthier. Don’t just focus on dinner; explore what they eat for breakfast and lunch as well.
Pick a theme for each week. You could start with seasonal soups, move onto vegetable stir fry’s and end with tropical fruits. If you’re looking to maximize certain nutrients, you could have a high fiber week, followed by protein-packed plates and finish with low-sugar breakfasts. Use the theme to fill in pieces of what your diet is missing.
Once a week, pick up a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried before. Prepare it and see if it’s something you like enough to repeat. If there are several varieties of something, get one of each and have a taste test. When I took the time to try several different types of apples side-by-side, it was highly illuminating. (I tried them with some friends, so none of us ate more than one whole apple.)
Buy only fruits and vegetables that are in season. Eating food that’s in season is usually cheaper, almost always fresher and tastier. It also forces you to keep considering new meals since what you’re buying can change every month or two. The United States Department of Agriculture has a comprehensive guide of seasonal produce at: https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide.
After you’ve done some exploring, any meals you’re particularly fond of you can put on your go-to list. And the next time you’re feeling stuck, you’ve got several ways to get out.
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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.