I’m not much of a magazine reader but I have flipped through a Reader’s Digest or two while visiting relatives. I go right for the clever short stories and jokes. I even submitted an inadvertent joke my nephew made about superheroes when he was four years old. He was describing all of their powers one evening to his uncle Mark. His favorite superhero is Spiderman (mine too, actually!). He shared every one of Spiderman’s powers in great detail. When Uncle Mark asked him about the next superhero on the list, Spider-woman, Lorenzo innocently quipped, “Oh, she’s just like Spiderman only more complicated.” It sure felt like a Reader’s Digest moment! In a world of information overload, condensing a lot of information into a little space to make things more digestible still works. What if you could do the same with your food choices?
We are a fast food nation and it doesn’t seem to be getting much better. Convenience is key as most Americans eat out or on the run 4–5 times per week. That translates into a whopping $3,000-$7,000 spent dining out each year. The total may swell as fast as our waistline if you factor in morning lattes, lunch-wagon burritos and afternoon pick-me-up candy bars and sodas. Deploy to any military base around the world and our quick fix addiction follows with every conceivable fast food franchise catering to our cravings. According to a study by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, young adults from 18–30 years old who ate out more than twice a week gained more weight and significantly increased their insulin resistance which translates to obesity and diabetes in middle age.
Super-Simple vs Super-Sized
With a little bit of planning, you can avoid the dining out pitfalls, save money and guarantee yourself a better diet. Here are my favorite “fast food” tips and tricks to keep you on track:
- Fix and Freeze — I now keep a stock of one quart freezer bags in my pantry so that when I cook my meals, I measure out single portions to pop out of the fridge or freezer. You can also apportion family-sized servings to reheat.
- Find your Favorites — Be sure to keep your kitchen well-stocked with your favorite (healthy) convenience foods like low sodium soups and water packed tuna. Remember to stock nuts and seeds for snacks, salads and soups to quickly boost your protein intake.
- Designate Days — Whether home or deployed, define your meals of the day and week. How about Chicken-Tuesdays or Fish-Fridays? By theming each day of the week around a certain type of meal, you can easily plan ahead and get creative with variations on the themes from week to week.
- Keep it Simple — think “Eater’s” Digest when it comes to meals. The simpler the ingredients and the shorter the meal prep, the more likely you will be to eat it. Divide your plate into portions like veggies, protein, and complex carb. Then plan your grocery shopping and meals accordingly.
- Leverage your Leftovers — the easiest way to break the fast food and dining out addiction is to leverage your time in the kitchen by doubling portions so that you have extra meals that are easy to reheat for tomorrow.
Ditch the Drama
It is remarkable how regimented our lives have become with work schedules and family activities which is why it’s easy to excuse ourselves from eating at home: no time, nothing to eat…drama, drama, drama. If you don’t have time to eat right now, will you have time for sick care and doctors visits later? A little effort put towards planning will reap huge rewards — healthier meals, a fatter wallet, and a slimmer you. You’ll also look good in those form-fitting superhero uniforms just in case!
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“A joyful heart is good medicine.”
Copyright © 2013 by Christine A.Toriello, all rights reserved.