You’re trying to do right by your body (and mind), you’re eating right, planning ahead, exercising regularly and drinking lots of water… but what’s actually for dinner? What about breakfast? Lunch? What about your pre-workout fuel?
While variety is important when deciding what to put in your mouth, keeping a few nutritious staples in the rotation can combat “decision fatigue” and help you stick to your healthy eating goals.
Nutritionist Tanya Halliday says, “Decreasing the amount of times you have to actively select the better option may assist with weight management. Over time, consistently choosing that option can run you down and, at the end of the day, diminish your ability to make a healthier choice.”
No one’s saying to eat chicken and rice or a smoothie every meal of every day, but having a go-to plan for your meals can help you consolidate a healthy eating process. Here are a few things you should add to your rotation.
Lindsay Livingston R.D, the author of the blog The Lean Green Bean, has oatmeal all the time, saying, “It’s so easy to customize depending on what’s in season or what I’m in the mood for.” She mixes it in with peanut butter, fresh fruit, pumpkin seeds and chocolate chips (not all at once). Her bowl mixes are great examples of a balanced meal, whole grains, healthy fats, and protein.
Summer Brooks says “Kefir is a great as a quick, high-quality protein and calcium alternative to milk. I can drink it for breakfast while I chase my toddler around, or on my way into the office.” Kefir is a rich source of probiotics, which help maintain a healthy gut microbiome. Blend it with frozen fruit and spinach for a simple smoothie.
3. Hard-boiled eggs
Tanya Halliday says, “They’re a low-calorie source of high-quality protein that keeps me full when I’m on the run. I’ll boil a batch of eggs on the weekend and portion them out in two or threes in small containers so I can have them on hand during the work week for a snack or as part of a balanced breakfast.”
Go nuts for nuts, suggests Kim Melton. “Walnuts, almonds and pistachios are a few of the varieties I almost always have in my kitchen.” Nuts are chalk full of healthy fats and fiber, essential for a healthy diet and curbing cravings. Switch it up by throwing cashews, almonds, and pine nuts into stir-fries.
Yogurt is a great go-to any time of day. Mandy Enright R.D.N chooses Skyr for its high protein content, but a regular Greek yogurt is also a fine option. As the bass of your main meal, “yogurt is also a fantastic source of bone-promoting calcium and probiotics to promote healthy gut function and immunity.” Have it fruit, granola, nuts, and seeds.
6. Chia seeds
Andrea Hardy R.D says, “People do not get enough fiber in their diet, and chia is a great source with five grams per tablespoon! I add it to smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, and salads, or I make chia pudding for a grab-and-go snack for the week.”
7. Leafy greens
Kristina LaRue R.D, a sports dietitian, says, “Kale, spinach, Swiss chard, dandelion greens, Bibb lettuce…any and all forms of greens are good with me. I love adding them to a breakfast hash or casserole or having them in a big salad for lunch or dinner. They also work well blended into green smoothies. Greens are nutrient-rich with lots of potassium and vitamins A, C, and K.” Get those greens down you.
Research shows that on average we make hundreds of decisions a day, and 200 of those are food-related choices – so make sure you’re making the right ones. As always, make sure you’re also following a balanced lifestyle, maybe allowing yourself a cheat day once a week rather than four times.