Healthy Habit #8: You can’t eat it if you don’t buy it

blog healthy cartFor better or worse, anything that finds its way into your shopping cart can land in your mouth. Anything that stays on the store shelf, can’t.
We all have foods that we simply cannot be trusted around. For me it’s trail mix—the kind with nuts, chocolate chips, and dried fruit. It’s basically “crack” for me. An OPEN bag equals an EMPTY bag. So I know not to even bring it home.
It’s a totally irrational compulsion. So now you know. I’m not cured of all my food issues. I’m still in recovery.
But just as I can’t eat trail mix if I don’t buy it, I also can’t eat fresh fruits & veggies, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy items unless I buy them. I’m in charge. And once those things arrive home, I’m in charge of putting them where they will do the most good. Or the least damage.

Here are some of the tips I use:

Sort through what’s already in your fridge and pantry. Toss out anything past its pull date. Look at the nutrition label and ingredients list. If it doesn’t fit your eating plan (Too much fat or salt? Not worth the calories?), donate it to your local food bank. Or hide it. More on that in a minute.

Wash and prep the fruits and vegetables as soon as you get them home. Or buy items that are already prepped. Whole butternut squash and pineapple are hard for me to deal with, so I’m more likely to buy them already cut up. Those personal size watermelons are just right for me. You might also want to bag up serving-sized amounts of carrots and such for easy additions to your lunch or healthy snack drawer

Place plan-friendly items up front and at eye-level, so they are the first things you see. My brain may know there is a half bag of chocolate chips behind the whole-grain spaghetti and brown rice, but I don’t see them winking at me every time I open the pantry. This is truly a case of “Out of sight, out of mind.” I can forget about them for days. Maybe weeks.That lemon meringue pie? Put it behind the yogurt and watermelon in the fridge.

Containers matter. Store good-for-you items–including leftovers–in clear, in serving-sized containers.

If you share the kitchen with others, think about designating a shelf or basket for your items. Keep it stocked with your favorite go-to, plan-friendly foods. A basket of ready-to-go foods can help you stay on track. You can keep one in the fridge and another one in the pantry. Maybe even one in your desk drawer at work.

We make more than 200 food-related decisions every day. What one little thing can you do today to help your environment nudge you toward healthier decisions?

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