Everyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of the number eight. I know you're wondering why I love this seemingly arbitrary number, but the truth is, there is some rhyme to my reasoning. I believe in eight easy rules (some of my clients even refer to this as "Keri Code"), which guide you in living a healthy and happy life. I'm a firm believer in sleeping for eight hours a night, drinking at least eight cups of water a day and focusing on your breathing for eight minutes daily.
Studies have also shown that a mere eight weeks of mindfulness meditation reduces stress and improves memory, empathy and our sense of self. All these little rules really add up and help make you the person you were meant to be, eat the way that's right for you and feel the best that you can possibly feel. Once a month, I'll be writing about how you can use eight minutes to change your life. Let's begin with meal preparation.
[Read: Building Your Kitchen Confidence.]
Whether you're cooking for an entire family, a significant other or just yourself, planning meal menus can be an overwhelming and daunting task. And, if you're like many people, ordering in can be all too tempting. But the trade-off for convenience is often a much less healthy option. C'mon, that salad you order in isn't as healthy as your homemade version, and you know it!
[Read: 6 Ways to Make Time for Your Health.]
That's why I want you to set aside a mere eight minutes to prepare the week's meals. You don't have to cook in those eight minutes (although, all the power to you if you want to!), but I'm talking about mental prep and just jotting down a few notes for the days to come.
One of the ways my clients tend to sabotage their healthy eating is when they leave meals to the last minute and have to make do with what's around. When they plan ahead, they know that their refrigerator shelves will be abundantly stocked with fruits, veggies and lean proteins, and their cupboards will be overflowing with whole grains like quinoa and farro. That's why preparing meals ahead of time, be it through mental or physical prep, is a critical part to living a nutritious life.
Here is how to spend these eight minutes:
• Write out your challenges for the week (birthday celebration, Mexican food, girls' night out, etc.) and then write down a plan to overcome the challenge.
• Plan your dinners at home around your schedule for the week and then create a grocery list to go with them.
• Write a list for work snacks, and add them to your grocery list.
• Schedule exactly when you are going to go to the grocery store.
If you have time left over in those eight minutes, then start with food prep:
• Make a pitcher of iced lemon water for the fridge.
• Chop what veggies you have around.
• Mix a healthy salad dressing to keep in your fridge.
• Portion out healthy snacks, like nuts, into little bags.
Not only does planning ahead make for healthier meals, but it also saves you money, reduces stress associated with cooking and helps keep your fridge and pantry cleaner and more organized. Just remember: It can take eight minutes to complete your order online or call a restaurant to deliver – and that's just for one meal! If you follow my advice, those same eight minutes can be used to provide you with a whole week's worth of healthy meals instead!
Hungry for more? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions, concerns, and feedback.
-Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and president of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City, and Nutritious Life Meals, a gourmet, healthy, daily diet delivery program available across the country. She is a member of Women's Health Magazine's advisory board and has authored Slim Calm Sexy Diet, The O2 Diet, and The Snack Factor Diet. Her fourth book, The New You and Improved Diet, will be released in December. Her expertise is regularly featured on the Today show, Good Morning America, and Access Hollywood Live, among others, and she hosts "A Little Bit Better" on YouTube's Livestrong Woman channel. Read more of Keri's tips every day on Facebook!