Losing weight and getting organized are two of the most common New Year’s Resolutions. Yet, until recently, I didn’t extend my organizational tendencies to the food I ate. Because I had been naturally thin for most of my life, this wasn’t an issue until I turned 41. Then, it seemed to me, I gained weight overnight. My immediate reaction was that I had developed a thyroid problem, one that could be easily fixed with medication. Who doesn’t fantasize about taking a pill and losing weight? Unfortunately (or fortunately), a visit to my doctor confirmed both the weight gain, and the absence of a thyroid condition. So, I turned to plan B.
Plan B consisted of doing nothing. Instead, I spent the next two years complaining about my weight. And, because I had given up to some extent, I also started eating more and exercising less. In denial, I told myself that recent photos were just taken at an unflattering angle, and my clothes were tight because they were supposed to be. It wasn’t until my annual check up, when I stepped on a scale and saw a number I never thought I’d see post pregnancy, that I faced the facts and moved on to plan C.
Plan C consisted of four appointments with nutritionist extraordinaire, Lara Metz (www.nutritiouslife.com). After keeping a food log for a week, Lara summed up my problem in one sentence. For someone so organized, I was completely disorganized about food. I ate whatever was in front of me. I rarely sat down to eat. Instead, I ate breakfast while taking my children to school, lunch on my lap in a taxi between appointments, and dinner standing at the island in my kitchen while checking email…not exactly a recipe for healthy living. In fact, I needed a complete reorganization of my kitchen, the food I ate, and when I ate. Now, thanks to Lara, I feel more energetic, have lost those stubborn pounds, and have gained control of how I eat. I call it “organized eating”.
Here are five of Lara’s basic tips that may help make your New Year’s diet resolution become a reality:
1. Plan (and prepare) meals in advance. You only need to conceptualize six or seven meals that you can rotate for your family. If you really want to simplify things, have the same chicken every Monday, the same meat every Tuesday, and the same pasta every Wednesday.
2. Plan (and prepare) snacks in advance. Make sure healthy snacks are available both at home and when you’re on the go. Like meals, snacks should be planned and prepared in advance.
3. Eat Frequently. Not only do you need to three meals a day, but don’t go more than two to three hours without eating. Have a snack between breakfast and lunch and again between lunch and dinner.
4. Drink lots of water. Carry a water bottle with you at all times, and drink as much as you can. If you get bored, spruce up your water with lemon or cucumber.
5. Have balanced meals that are satisfying. Not only do you need to have lean proteins and healthy fats, but meals need to taste good. Instead of an omelet with vegetables, add a piece of cheese. Instead of plain cottage cheese, add cinnamon and almonds. When food tastes better, you’ll enjoy it more and eat less.
In addition to following these tips from Lara, I also re-organized my kitchen to reflect my healthier lifestyle. Here are my five tips for organizing your kitchen to support organized eating:
1. Prominently display healthy snacks.If the first thing you see is delicious and healthy food, that’s what you’ll be likely to eat.
2. Hide temptations. Bread and bagels can be stored in a stainless steel bread box on the counter. It looks sleek, and corrals those unsightly plastic bags. http://www.containerstore.com/shop?productId=10000733&N=&Ntt=chrome+bread+box
3. Use uniform plastic containers in your refrigerator. Cut vegetables and fruit into bite size pieces and store the snacks in matching containers. Having all the same container makes your refrigerator look neat and visually appealing. Try the Modular Mates set from Tupperware: http://order.tupperware.com/coe/app/tup_show_item.show_item_detail?fv_item_category_code=20000&fv_item_number=P10058361000
4. Store like foods together. You need to know what you have in your refrigerator and pantry. For example, by lining up yogurts front to back in the refrigerator, I can see when I’m running low. You don’t want to eat something unhealthy because you didn’t realize you had run out of a diet staple.
5. Store dry goods in see through canisters. Cereal, nuts, and fiber bars look positively inviting when displayed this way. I like the Oxo POP canisters: http://www.oxo.com/p-436-pop-container-big-square-55-quart.aspx
What have you done to organize the food you eat? Let me know; I’d love to hear from you!