Want to live a healthy lifestyle? You could hire a personal chef to cook for you and a personal trainer to yell at you (a la Jillian Michael’s on The Biggest Loser), but that would deplete your financial health (and perhaps your sanity).
So, we asked nutrition experts and healthy lifestyle bloggers to share their very best nutrition hacks that will help you live Hollywood healthy without a celebrity paycheck (and while keeping your sanity in check). From healthy snack delivery to making a game of “open sneaks” (that is, integrating healthy foods into places you’d least expect it), here’s what they had to share.
10 Expert Life-Improving Nutrition Hacks
1. Save Time with a Healthy Snack Delivery Service
Many of us are eating at work and rarely taking lunch breaks. With days packed minute-to-minute from 9-5 (and beyond) and fast-food options and Cheetos-stuffed vending machines prolific, how can we make sure that snacks at work aren’t sugar-, salt-, and fat-laden?
“As CEO of a health and nutrition startup, it’s pretty much expected that I, and my staff, eat healthy day in and day out. But, I’m always running between meetings with little to no time between to run out of the office and grab a full meal which means I have to have something quick and available in our break room.”
Kelly couldn’t find a solution on the market that saved his staff the time of running to a grocery store and picking up snacks every month. “That’s why we started our own healthy snack delivery service,” say Kelly.
Healthy snack delivery is also a growing corporate wellness strategy and Millennial-focused perk [click here to read our article on Millennial perks].
2. When Eating, Mind Your Stomach
Have you ever continued eating even though you felt full because your plate still had food on it or it just tasted so good?
Or how about the old adage, “There’s always room for dessert”?
“Eat a meal with your stomach in mind, don’t just think about what your mouth is experiencing,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA RDN, CDN who’s a food and nutrition expert from New York and author of Read It Before You Eat It.
“How much do you think should really fit into that little bag (your stomach!) that is the size of two of your fists? “
“Overeating, for some, is a bigger problem than making the wrong food choices.”
3. Always Carry Healthy Snacks
Are healthy snacks always at your fingertips? Whether a mom-on-the-go or a CEO, we’re all running around with packed schedules and little time to think about a full meal on the way to the next football, soccer, ballet practice or meeting or phone call at the office.
Being prepared is key, says Rene Ficek, a Registered Dietitian who is also the Lead Nutrition Expert at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating. “If you want to eat healthy in order to lose weight, live longer, etc., you need to be prepared. And that requires time planning and shopping.”
“I never know what the day is going to bring, so I always put snacks in my purse. This keeps me from indulging in high-calorie snacks and meals when hunger strikes. Nuts, nut butters, and fruits are always my go to. They are always readily available and easy to grab as I am on my way out the door.”
4. Stay Away from Fake
We’ve all had that moment reading a nutrition label and said to ourselves, “What is TRIACETIN (GLYCEROL TRIACETATE)?”
Since when did reading a nutrition label require a degree in chemistry to find out what we’re putting into our bodies? Ashley Koff, RD and Founder of The AKA Personal Shopper, says, “I’m a Qualitarian because I believe that better quality choices fuel my body better—the body recognizes them most easily and uses them most efficiently—so the only thing I can NOT (will NOT) hack is anything fake.
It makes it easier if I keep that as my deal-breaker, and then let myself have flexibility with my other choices (I still pay attention to the other nutrition principles that create nutrition for optimal health – see these at www.ashleykoffrd.com/nutritionplan) but choosing from the better quality options available is my number one ‘hack.’”
5. Make an Easy Swap
We all have our favorite side and snacks that taste amazing but can break the calorie bank. Making easy swaps can take a calorie heavy starch or full-fat dip into a better-for-you option. “Eat quinoa instead of rice,” suggests host, nutritionist & healthy lifestyle expert Lisa De Fazio, MS, RD. “It contains more fiber and protein and is gluten-free. I also make extra and toss it in a salad.”
Another awesome swap that we loved makes guacamole into a protein-rich dip you can get behind.
Desiree Nielsen BSc RD suggests you “drop calories and boost protein and minerals in your guacamole by subbing half the avocado for cooked edamame. Guacamole is filled with healthy fats, but it is still easy to overdo it. Adding edamame beans will make the dip more filling (so you eat less), and one cup of edamame provides a whopping 23 g of protein and 276mg of calcium—almost as much as a glass of milk!”
6. Clean Up Your Sugar Fix
Who doesn’t love an occasional sugary treat? But processed and refined sugars are, needless to say, not the best for you and in excess can lead to Type 2 Diabetes. So, is there a way to satisfy a sweet tooth that’s ok?
The answer is “yes” according to nutritionist and Celebrity Chef Chef Mareya, aka The Fit Foodie. “There are many clean and natural sugar alternatives on the market today, such as stevia and monkfruit extract. Fresh fruit is nature’s sweet, so grab a handful of strawberries or berries for a sweet treat. If your sugar craving needs more drastic measures, dip the fruit in dark chocolate, which is good for you with antioxidants. 70% dark is low-sugar and boasts the most chocolate health benefits.”
7. Practice Open Sneaks
Getting kids to eat their broccoli has been notoriously tricky, but one recent trend involves sneaking veggies into food kids love to trick picky little-ones into eating greens without a fuss.
But for Carla Birnberg, an award-winning fitness and healthy lifestyle blogger, this simply wouldn’t cut it. “I’m renowned for my consistency with regards to healthy eating—but definitely not my creativity or wizardry in the kitchen,” says Birnberg.
“My best healthy eating hack would be something my daughter and I do together. A while ago, I decided ‘healthy sneaks’ were not for my family. I wasn’t interested in sneaking beans into my daughter’s brownies so that she ate the beans unbeknownst to her.”
“That said, we made a game of trying to do ‘open sneaks’ on ourselves. We grab any vegetables which happen to be in the house and experiment with them when blending up our fruit smoothies in the morning. We will add avocados or any other veggies into places one might not expect, and see if we would have known or tasted them had we not been the ones who snuck in the healthy. This open sneaking has resulted in some fantastic new flavors and, admittedly, many taste bombs.”
8. Don’t Make Foods Forbidden
In a world where intermittent fasting and week-long detoxes are increasingly gaining popularity, it’s easy to make a food rule that says “I’m never going to eat French fries again” at breakfast and then to find yourself ordering fries at dinner hours later.
For Certified Healthy Coach Laina James, forbidden foods made them even tougher to resist. “I struggled with binge-eating on cheap, processed food for many years. During that time, I was also almost always on some kind of restrictive diet with a list of ‘bad foods’ I had made off-limits. Not surprisingly, these ‘bad foods’ were always my first choice for a binge. Why? Because making something forbidden gives it power.”
James’ solution? “When I gave myself permission to eat anything, I found that I no longer felt out of control, naturally gravitated towards healthier foods, and when I did indulge in what used to be my ‘bad foods,’ I ate a reasonable amount rather than falling into an unstoppable binge.”
9. Wrap It Up!
Making good food portable is a great solution for eating on the go. Nutrition writer, speaker and consultant in New Orleans Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD says, “Traveling can be the hardest time to stay healthy since airports and gas stations typically only stock fast food and chips.
When I’m traveling, I always make sure my snacks are easy to eat while running through an airport or driving long distances, and wraps are my favorite go-to snack. I can re-fuel with one hand and carry a suitcase with the other.”
“I love anything wrapped in a La Tortilla Factory tortilla because they’re high-fiber and low-carb. They’re are great as turkey wraps or filled with nut butter and rolled up.”
10. Don’t Ditch Alcohol, Cut It
“Cut your wine with seltzer. This will allow you to indulge in a glass or two at the end of the day, without having nearly as much sugar! If you’re a cocktail girl, try muddling some fresh berries with your vodka and seltzer,” says Arielle Fierman, healthy lifestyle expert and author of blog BeWellwithArielle.com. “Avoiding the juices or other sugary mixers keeps the calories down, and will help to keep the headache the next morning at bay!”
BONUS: We asked some of these experts to share their favorite healthy snack when they’re on the go. Here are our favorites:
“My favorite healthy snack when I’m on the go can vary depending on what’s available to me (hello healthy vending machines or minimarts with healthy options). That said, I always have a stash of pistachios in my backpack. Since they’re nonperishable and a good source of protein and fat, all I need to do is grab a water bottle and, if available, purchase a piece of fruit.”
– Carla Birnberg, Award-winning Fitness and Healthy Lifestyle Blogger
“If I don’t have the time to put something together myself, I always have KIND bars on hand. What I like most about them, aside from a delicious taste, is that you can look at them and tell what they contain—you can see their ingredients. If I have a few minutes to throw something together, it is almond butter on whole grain bread. I never take a trip without it—it’s portable, doesn’t have to be refrigerated, and is energizing. Both of these snacks squash hunger and meet needs in one little package!”
– Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RDN, CDN, Author of Read It Before You Eat It and Food and Nutrition Expert from New York
“My fave healthy snacks on the go are snack-sized cheese, Beanitos, a Tupperware filled with homemade pulled chicken, and an all-natural hi-protein low-carb ready-to-drink shake (like ICONIC), mixed with coffee concentrate for a protein-rich iced coffee.”
– Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD, Nutrition Writer, Speaker and Consultant in New Orleans
“As for what you will catch me grabbing most often, well that splits between an organic greens juice and some blend of seeds and nuts, a great piece of chocolate, a quality bar, a piece of fruit with a packet of nut butter, chia pudding, popcorn, multi-grain & seed crackers. Uh-oh, the list really does go on and on!”
– Ashley Koff RD, Founder, The AKA Shopper
Easy tricks that make healthy eating simple do exist; however, one thing we heard from almost every nutrition expert we spoke to (and underlying many of the tips above) is that being prepared with healthy foods at your fingertips is the easiest way to make sure you’re eating healthfully. Whether that preparation comes from subscribing to a healthy snack delivery service, making a wrap that you can eat on the run or sneaking healthy choices into some of your old stand-bys to make a delicious new concoction, it’s up to you.
What’s your best nutrition hack? Have you ever tried a nutrition hack that didn’t work for you? Tell us in the comments!
If you’d like to hack your way to easy and delicious home snack delivery, request your free sample of SnackNation HERE.