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Three Steps Towards Better Nutrition

There’s so much written about nutrition, and it can seem overwhelming at times. Superfoods! Antioxidants. Gluten?  Omega-3s. Amino acids? We care a lot about nutrition at DinnerTime, and are fascinated by emerging science of why certain foods have particular effects on our bodies. But the reality is, knowing what to eat is relatively simple for most people; it’s the behavior — eating what we intend — that is challenging.

Like most people, I want to eat healthy. I know that if I eat a balanced diet with fresh vegetables and proteins, I will have more energy, better skin, and a sunnier attitude. However, I’m easily tempted by anything “carby.” You know — the pastry, pizza  and ice cream variety? I joke that I love carbs and carbs love me (they never leave me but take up residence in my thighs!). However, some carbs are good for me, like the ones in vegetables, fruits and whole grains. I know that if I fill up with whole foods including healthy carbs, I will feel full longer, have more energy, and my desire for sugary treats diminishes.

Temptations present themselves all the time, and while I may indulge on occasion, because I am eating healthier, I am able to resist.  A recent Cornell study recognizes that we are presented over 200 food choices every day. That’s a lot of decision making! I don’t want to say I will never ever have pastry again. I just say “I’m not going to have it today.”  Every year in January, people vow to “get healthier,” but by the 2nd of February, 80% have given up. This year I feel like I am making progress. March is National Nutrition Month, which reminds me to take stock of my healthy intentions’ progress, and assess what is working and where I can improve.

As I thought about what I have done to stick to my healthy intentions, it became clear that there are three key actions I take each week that have helped keep me on track. There are still those times when I lose control or life just interferes, however. When this occurs, I ask myself, Have I done step 1, step 2 and step 3? If I haven’t, I don’t beat myself up. Being aware of my actions helps me get back on track. I know what works, and that gives me the confidence to return to my healthy habits.

My three steps to success:

  1. Plan: EVERY nutritionist will tell you that planning is key to success. One part of your mind says, “Find something healthy,” while the other part screams, “I want pizza now!” When you are hungry in the moment, it is hard to make the healthy choice. But if you have a plan to cook an easy and healthy dinner, then the mind doesn’t have this battle. The choice is already made. Spend a few minutes reviewing your DinnerTime Profile, and choose the dietary plan that works best for you so the meals recommended will really work well for your household.
  2. Shop: If you don’t have the right ingredients in the house, then you won’t have healthy choices available when you are hungry. Knowing there are healthy options at home can stop you from heading for the drive-thru or ordering delivery. Fast food can be three to five times the cost of cooking at home. Makes me feel virtuous to save.
  3. Prep: By prepping ahead, I am committing to my plan. When I devote up-front time to chopping vegetables, setting up my slow cooker, defrosting the chicken, or even making and freezing a meal ahead, it saves me energy later. Once I get my groceries home, I wash my vegetables, and prep as much as I can for each recipe. For example, if I need diced onions for three different recipes this week, I can cry just once and have the onions all ready to go as I make each dish. When I am tired, hungry, and need to get dinner on the table for all the other tired and hungry people in my house, it’s a relief to know that dinner is almost ready. It’s my own budget-friendly meal kit. 

Check out this yummy dinner:

So easy and flavorful you’ll add it to your “Favorites.”

Seasoning of a blend of sweet and spicy makes this recipe a perfect side for many dishes.

Simple but elegant! Salads are a great way to extra nutrients.