It can be so tempting to grab fast food or junk food when we're hungry and in a hurry. We asked Living Well readers what they do to make it easier to eat healthily and avoid high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. Whether you're watching your waistline, living with diabetes, or simply want to be your best, try these tips.
KEEP HEALTHY FOOD HANDY
It seems simple, but many readers said that keeping good food handy – and not having junk around – makes all the difference.
- "I make batches of homemade granola, with nuts, oats, honey, dried berries and seeds. It is a great night-time snack!" —Rose A
- "Keep cut up carrots and veggies ready in the fridge for a quick munch if you are a habitual fridge-door opener." —Alice B
- "I try to make healthy snacks like cookies and muffins from my diabetic and SPLENDA® cookbooks on the weekends and have them ready for the late-night munchies." —Jenn H
- "I keep all the ingredients to make my own 'junk food' at home. I make my own burger patties from lean meat, have 12-grain buns, tomatoes, low fat cheeses etc. on hand. I make yogurt layered with fresh fruit desserts instead of [fast food]." —Elizabeth R
- "When I do my grocery shopping I just DO NOT buy high calorie junk food, therefore if you don't have it in your cupboards you can't eat it!" —Marg C
- "Over the years I have learned a few things that make healthy eating easier for our family: fruit on the table, good soup in the cupboard, whole grain bread and natural peanut butter. Yummmm!" —Sheilagh B
- "I made my own garden this year. That improved the health quotient of my meals. I always try to cook my own meals; we are less likely to consume empty calories when we know what ingredients we use." —Cynthia V
- "I don't keep junk in the house; I pack a generous healthy lunch, and keep a supply of nutritious snacks at my office. If I have a meeting after work, I bring something healthy, and eat frequent snacks to avoid getting too hungry." —Kelly C
TAME THE TREATS
Many readers admit they still give into their cravings, but they do it in a controlled way.
- "I try to buy small packages rather than the jumbo size. Then I only eat a little rather than have a lot hanging around." —Linda W
- "When I feel I need a treat, I drink decaf coffee with flavored SPLENDA® in it. Sometimes I make an ice cap with flavored SPLENDA®." —Diane D
- "I keep pretzels in hand that are low in fat and calories, to satisfy my salt craving. I also keep bite-size candy bars in the freezer to satisfy my chocolate craving." —Karen A
- "My husband has diabetes type 2 and we try to keep normal, balanced meals and snack times at regular times without omitting too much. Spices get used instead of the salt shaker, and, for someone with a sweet tooth, I bake with SPLENDA® as much as possible." —Mary D
PLANNING MAKES PERFECT
Perhaps the top way to avoid getting stuck in the junk food rut is to plan ahead.
- "I menu plan and I take a grocery list to the store so I can stick with the list. It also helps me to buy healthier while sticking to a budget. We also try to stay out of the middle aisles to avoid temptation." —Sarah N
- "My family uses meal plans on white boards in the kitchen. Everyone knows what's going on and when things need to come out of the freezer or be prepped. If everyone knows what dinner is, it is easy to check the next step." —Amanda F
- "I plan my weekly meals in advance. Where possible I also then spend a weekend day cooking what I can in advance and freezing it so that on busy nights I have something healthy that I can put together in no time." —Letanya M
- "I always try to plan my meals before I leave for work in the morning, that way I am not grabbing something pre-made in a box on my way home." —Loretta K
- "I do a big grocery shop on Sunday at the local farm market and butcher. I plan for five lunches and five dinners for the family. Then I prep lunches each evening, then each morning I prep the dinner. This way we are always prepared, don't have to eat out!" —Bree E
- "I have a food preparation date – once every two weeks, I have a friend over and we chat and catch up while I prepare small snacks (cubed fruit, cheese, etc.) that can be stored in the fridge and grabbed quickly to avoid grabbing junk food." —Jennifer G
SET SOME RULES
Don't leave your health to chance. Set some standards and stick to them. You're worth it!
"I use Canada's Food Guide. I never drink pop. If I need to sweeten, I use honey or SPLENDA®. I never buy frozen dinners and fast food is not on the menu." —Mylene B
"It's so easy to eat well! You just have to take the time to cook and to choose healthy foods, to have seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day and to follow Canada's Food Guide for the rest." —Suzie G
"I substitute potatoes with salads at every, or almost all, meals and I use SPLENDA® in my recipes... I drink a lot of water; I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables." —Chantal P
"1) I eat fruit instead; 2) I buy the 100 calorie chocolate bars when I feel like chocolate; 3) I use SPLENDA® to sweeten things or for baking; 4) I buy baked, low-sodium potato chips." —Bess P
"I find that if I drink lots of water during the day I don't have as many cravings for junk food." —Pat H
THE LAST WORD
"Stick to my grocery list, prepare meals in advance, drink lots of liquids, eat lots of apples and carrot sticks, chocolate is as dark as I can get." —Brenda T
SOURCE(S): © McNeil Consumer Healthcare, division of Johnson & Johnson Inc. 2011