Easy meal ideas with fast food (FF) options: breakfasts: greek yogurt and fresh fruit, any vegetalbe/fruit smoothie lunches: grilled chicken salad (pick out croutons or any non-veggies) , bunless sandwich from any ff restaurant (with fork and a salad) dinner: steambag frozen vegetables, frozen chicken breast (just microwave til cooked then top with salsa), rotisserie chicken from grocery or Boston Market, lettuce wrap from Jimmy Johns snacks: string cheese, fresh veggies, fresh fruits, plain greek yogurt, oven-roasted turkey breast deli slices, raw almonds (about 23), turkey bacon
If you want to make changes that will last a lifetime, then the others are right that it's best to start with small changes and let them add up over time. You didn't get where you are overnight, so plan on it taking as long as it takes, with the idea that all is well so long as you are heading in the right direction. You'll find it a lot easier if you get your family on board with you, so finding ways to involve the kids in the changes will help head off any arguments with them.
The very first thing to do is to get all of your info in to SparkPeople and get a calorie and nutrient range set for your goal. Be realistic about what your exercise will be every week, and be realistic about your time-frame. Also think about tracking a few key nutrients (iron, folate, calcium, potassium, sodium, or fibre, for example) as these will give you a good idea of how "healthy" your overall diet is. Just track what you are actually eating and doing for a couple of weeks so that you have a realistic idea of where you're starting from --- the ranges given by Spark will show you where you need to make changes to be where you want to be.
Next, I would start by changing one meal at a time. Maybe start with snacks, and start with having veggies (baby carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, snap peas) that have a satisfying crunch and are fast and easy to grab. Buy some hummus (or make some), or guacamole (or make some), or yogurt dip to have with the veggies and add some healthy fats and protein for a more satisfying snack. Have popcorn instead of chips, and start playing around with different toppings for it (there are some great spice mix recommendations around for BBQ flavour, or salt & vinegar, or garlic & parmesan for example).
Once you and the family are settled with that change, then maybe have a look at breakfasts. You don't do eggs, but there's nothing wrong with overnight oatmeal (really quick and easy to do, and you can have different fruits or veg in it every day so that you get some fun variety for you and the kids), or with whole-grain toast with peanut butter or cheese and a fruit. If you are stuck inside on a rainy day with the kids, then maybe try baking some healthy muffins with them (banana muffins made with rolled oats, oat bran, whole wheat flour and yogurt, for example). These are easy to freeze, and can be pulled out for a quick and healthy breakfast or snack later. There are some pretty healthy cereal choices out there, too, that can make a great breakfast with some milk and fruit. Don't be afraid to step out of the "breakfast food" rut, and have leftovers from dinner for breakfast sometimes!
When you get to lunches, then have a look at what you consider a good and filling lunch and see what you can tweak. Instead of a massive sandwich and chips, maybe look at using a whole-grain wrap or lettuce leaf to hold the sandwich filling, and replace the chips with veggies. Try putting your sandwich meat in a salad that has different greens, a sprinkle of cheese, some nuts, and a healthier dressing on it. Soups can be great, even purchased ones (if you're careful about what you find on the nutrition label). Add a bunch of different veggies to a store-bought soup, along with some extra water, and you'll drop the sodium while adding a lot of nutrition.
Suppers can be tricky when you're short on time and hate to cook. A few things that work for me are stir-fry's (lots of nutrition, and really quick), slow-cooker meals (that have everything tossed in earlier in the day so are ready when you are), and home-made pizzas (use whole-grain pitas or tortillas as the "crust", a no-sodium-added tomato paste with your own spices, and let your family each choose which veggies and meats they want to add to their own, then top with some shredded cheese and pop in the oven --- easy, tasty, and kids usually love this since they can choose how they get theirs!). I really like batch-cooking, especially for meats. I rarely cook just one meal's worth of meat --- extras are sliced and frozen in portion sizes so that they can be pulled out and added to meals as needed. I also like to prep my fruits and veggies all at once when we get home from the store --- I'm far more likely to grab them when they're already washed, sliced, and packaged in portions so that I don't need to think about it when I'm in a hurry. This could be a project that you get your kids involved in: even toddlers can hand-split cauliflower and broccoli florets, and wash veggies and fruits (if you have a step for them to reach the sink).
I strongly recommend browsing the public nutrition trackers on here for meal ideas. There are so many folks on here who are really successful and who list what foods they eat --- I've gotten some fabulous tips and ideas from doing this!
When you make the changes gradually, it is not only much easier (since you're only dealing with one change at a time), but it's far more likely to last as each change becomes the "new normal". Eventually you will have a much healthier lifestyle that is seen as just "normal" for the whole family. While you are making the changes, focus on what is really tasty and fun for you and the family --- this is not about "dieting" or deprivation, make it an adventure in search of new and tasty foods!
While you may never learn to "love" cooking, you may find that it becomes less "hateful" as your tastes change and you start finding that fast foods and junk foods don't really taste anywhere near as good as the healthy foods that you make from fresh ingredients at home. A plate full of vegetable stir-fry with a healthy portion of meat, and maybe a portion of wild rice or quinoa is far more filling, tasty, and satisfying than a burger, fries, and soda from a fast-food joint. It is incidentally also a whole lot less calories and a whole lot more nutrients.
Do you not like to cook, or not know how? Perhaps there's a community centre offering cooking classes? Some supermarkets even offer cooking classes. Even one particular item/technique will give you a start.
Small steps will create a foundation on which to build a healthy lifestyle
I really think the best way to start, is just to make a few small changes at a time. Like Kris said, this is a lifestyle change, not a "diet". When I started, I chose to 1) stop eating stuff with a lot of sugar in it (cake, pie, cookies etc) and 2) drink more plain water and 3) eat 5 fruits/ vegetables a day. That last one was sort of a "cheat" on my part, because I was already pretty much doing that anyway so I really didn't need to change anything. But it sounded better to say I was making 3 changes, and not just 2.
After I got more or less comfortable with those changes, I made a couple more changes. And on and on it has gone-- just a little at a time, continuously adding in a few more little things. For example, if you always get fast food for your lunch-- you could try packing your own lunch from food you bought at the grocery store (Kris gave you some good ideas)-- maybe 2 or 3 times a week to start. You could look at the nutrition information for various fast food meals, and choose the healthier options instead of fries and a coke with sugar in it.
And I totally agree that unless you're diabetic or have some other health issue, you don't need to worry about the fructose (sugar) in fruit. It is the refined, white sugar or high fructose corn syrup that seems to be added to so many things these days, that you'd want to be limiting.
Fitness Minutes: (33,542)
22,039 6/10/13 7:00 A
Unless you are diabetic, forget what you hear about fruits. They are very healthy - some have more sugar than others, BUT it is the processed sugars, not from fruits, that you are best avoiding.
This isn't a diet - it is a healthy lifestyle. It is about wise choice of foods most of the time. It is about portion control - good hydration (water is calorie and additive free) and it is about an appropriate amount of exercise.
If you make changes gradually, including decreasing the calories gradually, AND if you get enough quality protein (not from processed meats) and healthy fats, and plenty of fruit/veges, you will find that you won't be hungry. Remember that when a person is physically active, they need to eat more than the bare minimum of 1200 calories.
Here are some cheap but healthy foods for you to work with: Cans of beans - baked beans; black beans; red kidney beans Cans of lentils or dried lentils for you to cook. (takes about 15 minutes) Frozen veges - if it makes it easier for you - look at mixed veges Salads - you can buy them pre-washed and ready to eat - just slice some capsicums, red onions, chop tomatoes, cucumber, etc. to make it a good mix of nutrients and flavour - add a favourite dressing - not one laden with unhealthy fat. Lemon and olive oil make a good one.
You can buy cooked roast meats - think turkey; roast beef, etc. from a deli if you don't want to cook them. I sometimes buy Hot Rotisserie Chicken, strip the skin off and have some as a Roast with veges, some with avocado and pepper on a sandwich, and the rest I cook up onions, celery, capsicums, dried apricots, lentils, and add shredded chicken when the other is virtually cooked. Then I containerize it into single serves and freeze. Quick and easy.
Good luck, Kris
Edited by: SLIMMERKIWI at: 6/10/2013 (07:54)
Fitness Minutes: (75)
4 6/10/13 6:38 A
Ok so I am new to do and need lots of help. I am a junk food junky I guess what I think is healthy really isn't. I HATE to cook so fast food is everyday. But I am ready to lose thus weight and be happy about myself again. But I have a hard time with what foods to eat I can't do eggs or any seafood... So what are good ideas for easy meals? And what is true my healthy... I mean I know fruits and veggies but then u hear on other diets fruits are to high in sugar etc. I just get confused as each diet says different things. I don't want to diet and be hungry all the time I want to change my thinking for a lifetime change. HeLP!!!
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