Taking care of myself by eating healthy meals is hard for me. I work outside the home (with a three-hour commute) and homeschool my children. Because I’m always busy, I don’t have time to make intricate, delicious meals. Our budget doesn’t allow for all organic meats, fruits, and vegetables. And I have a houseful of picky eaters.
Despite these obstacles, I’ve been slowly incorporating small changes towards eating better. Here are ten self-care resolutions I’m adding to my lifestyle for better health.
1. Take Time to Plan Meals
By planning ahead, I reduce the stress of trying to decide what to eat at the last minute. I plan meals that include more nutrients and less sugar instead of defaulting to the easy but not-so-healthy options.
Bonus: Meal planning makes it a breeze to create a grocery list. And my list then saves me both time and money in the store.
2. Add One Ingredient to Each Meal Just for Me
I tend to cook the foods that my family will eat. But why should I forgo the benefits of kale or salmon just because my husband or kids don’t find them appealing?
I’m resolved to add to each meal one healthy food or ingredient I really enjoy but my family doesn’t. It’s just for me! Of course, my children can share if they’d like, and it might induce them to choose healthier foods over time.
3. Prepare Food Ahead of Time
Some people are so organized they plan ahead and make a month’s worth of sauces, main courses, and frozen pancakes to store in the freezer. They set aside time weekly or monthly to do the bulk of the cooking.
I have never had that much dedication to once-a-month cooking, but I am starting to do daily prep that makes eating better an easier choice for me.
- I’m doubling recipes, throwing half in the freezer to be thawed for a future meal.
- I’m chopping veggies the night before.
- I put tomorrow’s lunch in the slow cooker today, or place supper in the slow cooker with breakfast.
4. Liven Up Meals with New Flavors
Instead of having a boring sandwich and soup for lunch, I’m experimenting with new ingredients to make my meal feel more special—and healthier:
- a more flavorful bread
- a new ingredient in my soup
- a different condiment
5. Keep a Special Treat on Hand
Sometimes days are hard, and I want a pick-me-up. Usually I reach for an unhealthy, sugar-laden snack. But this year, I’m trying to turn to healthier, more elegant choices like a cup of herbal tea, served in a fancy teacup. Indulging in a special, just-for-me treat when the weight of the day is pressing down keeps me from overindulging with comfort foods later.
6. Keep Water Nearby
Being well-hydrated helps with overeating by creating a sensation of fullness. I like to drink ice cold water flavored lightly with fresh slices of lemon, cucumber, or strawberry.
7. Buy Less Junk Food
Having healthier foods in the home makes it easier for everyone to eat better. I’m resolved to buy fewer unhealthy foods (junk food and prepared foods) so I’m forced to opt for more nutritious dishes.
8. Collect Cookbooks
Having a variety of cookbooks boosts my interest in healthier foods and make it easier to create them. I can browse them for relaxation, scan them for making weekly meal plans, and then follow the directions for trying new recipes.
9. Promptly Clean the Kitchen
I sometimes take shortcuts by moving on to homeschooling immediately after a meal, planning to come back to clean later in the day. But when my kitchen is a mess and the dishes aren’t done, I have a lot less motivation to cook. If the fridge isn’t organized, and my preschooler didn’t clean up a mess she made, I tend to get overwhelmed thinking of the cleaning I need to do before I can begin making a healthy meal. I’m resolved to clean up the kitchen promptly after each meal!
10. Get the Children Involved
Having the entire family involved in eating better makes it easier to keep on track myself. Plus it’s my responsibility to teach them the science of nutrition and model healthy eating habits. Here are ways I’m getting my children involved:
- decide which vegetables to add to the meal
- learn how to make a traditional meal more healthy
- compile a list of new foods or dishes they would like to try
- help wash, chop, stir, and cook
- choose recipes from cookbooks
- make grocery lists and shop
- put away the groceries
- clean up after meals
Eating better isn’t about being perfect. It’s about making a series of small choices until these choices become habits. When I choose to take care of myself through better food choices, I’m happier, stronger, and far better able to take care of my family and homeschool my children.