There are many essential factors to consider when it comes to prom preparation. You have to give yourself ample time for your prom dress hunt (with accessories and shoes to match), find the perfect date, book arrangements in advance for limo drivers, professional photographers, after-party venues, etc…all while keeping up with your schoolwork, homework, possible part-time job and every other activity your busy self is involved in! It can be exciting, while overwhelming and stressful at the same time. And when we get caught up in our hectic schedules striving to maintain our “To Do” lists, it’s easy to overlook other important factors that we should be keeping in mind: healthy eating and good nutritional habits. With our lives always on the go, it may seem hard to squeeze in time for health-conscious meal preparations. So to make things easier, we’ve rounded up 9 Fab Tips for nutritional success. Because in the long run, maintaining a consistent healthy diet and lifestyle will give you more energy, stabilize your “inner zen” and help you check off your “To Do” lists more fabulously! And the bonus, you’ll look and feel awesome on your prom night (SCORE)!
- Set out your goals for success. We’ve mapped this out in 3 parts:
- Simplify. Don’t overly concern yourself with calorie counting and measuring your meal portions – it’s an unnecessary stress that you should not worry about. Envision a healthy diet comprised of fresh, natural ingredients in a variety of colors.
- Start off slow and make gradual changes over time. You can’t expect to change your eating habits completely overnight. It’s not realistic to create immediate restrictions on yourself (this could lead to diet cheating or giving up full force). Baby steps are key, like switching to extra virgin olive oil, rather than butter, having a robust salad full of colorful veggies with a light dressing as your meal, having a fresh bowl of fruit as opposed to ice cream, cake or cookies for dessert. Consistent small changes will become habit as you continue to include healthier options to your diet.
- Make it a long-term goal. Don’t fret about giving up your favorite indulgences completely. Keep in mind that moderation is key. The ultimate goal is to feel more awesome and energized, so every healthy meal option you choose will make a difference!
- Keep everything in moderation. (Or in other words maintain a healthy balance) You shouldn’t cut out your favorite foods “cold turkey” and make it off-limits (that’s pretty depressing), but strike a balance by eating less of the unhealthy elements (saturated fats, refined sugar and simple carbs) and eating more of the healthy elements (colorful vegetables, fruits, proteins like chicken and salmon and complex carbs). Think of moderation as this: if you want to have your bacon for breakfast, follow it up that day with a healthy lunch like salad and a piece of fruit and for dinner, perhaps grilled salmon and steamed veggies.
- Consider not just what you eat, but how you eat. To avoid mindless overeating, try to make it a habit to eat in the company of others when possible. This will help in creating healthier eating habits – plus you’ll enjoy mealtimes a whole lot more without rushing through meals. It’s also important to be more in tune with your body’s signals to ensure that you’re getting all the proper amounts of nutrition. Stop eating before you feel uncomfortably full and never let yourself go thirsty by keeping a bottle of water always by your side. Another good habit is to eat breakfast to jump start your metabolism, then follow it up throughout the day with numerous small meals to maintain your metabolism and energy levels. Avoid eating before bedtime and try to eat dinner earlier in the evening. This dietary adjustment will benefit your digestive system, while regulating your weight.
- Fill yourself up on colorful fruits and vegetables. These are the foundation of a nutritious diet because they are low in calories, while being nutrient dense. In other words, they’re jam packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber…major building blocks to a healthy physique both inside and out! And remember the brighter the fruit and vegetable, the better! And keep in mind different vegetables contain different benefits so be sure to consume a variety of them! Five portions a day are key!
- Eat whole grains and healthy carbs. Healthy carbohydrates and fiber like whole grains creates long-lasting energy. And along with being delicious and satisfying to our taste buds, they also contain loads of antioxidants and phytochemicals to guard us against diseases later in life like heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes. And if you’re not sure how to differentiate unhealthy from healthy carbs, here’s a quick and simple break down:
- Healthy carbs: whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables. Because these are digested more slowly, you’ll feel full longer, while stabilizing your blood sugar and insulin levels
- Unhealthy carbs: white flour, refined sugar and white rice that have been stripped of all their good elements (bran, fiber and nutrients). Digestion is much quicker, which causes major spikes in blood sugar levels and energy.
- Know the difference between healthy & unhealthy fats. A good source of healthy fats help to nourish your brain, heart and cells, while nourishing our hair, skin and nails. Here’s another solid breakdown to separate the good from the bad:
- Healthy fats: (monounsaturated fats) plant-derived oils like olive, coconut and canola oils, as well as avocados, nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios) and seeds (like pumpkin and sesame). (Polyunsaturated fats like Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, found in hearty fish like salmon, herring and halibut. Other good sources are unheated sunflower, corn, flaxseed oils and soybeans.)
- Unhealthy fats: saturated fats from animal sources including red meat and whole milk dairy products, as well as trans fats including butter, processed foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oils, as well as candies, cookies, snack foods, chips and those evil deep fried foods.
- Include a variety of protein in your diet. Protein is another major energy source that our body needs for it to thrive. They’re also crucial in maintaining healthy cells, tissues and organs. A diet lacking of adequate protein can lead to reduced muscle mass, while weakening our immune systems. And if you think protein comes strictly from animal sources, think again! Here’s a healthy variety of different types of protein you can include in your meals. And the bonus (you can create really quick, simple yet tasty dishes with this list). Protein sources are broken down into Beans (black, navy, garbanzo beans and lentils), Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans), Soy (tofu, soy milk, tempeh and veggie burgers). Consume these in healthy moderation and avoid dousing these sources in heavy amounts of salt.
- Drink plenty of water. Keeping yourself hydrated with plenty of helpings of fresh water throughout the day is ESSENTIAL. Water not only keeps bloat at bay but also acts as a major tool for proper digestion. You can also consider it as the main transporter of the healthy foods you eat. Water streams all the nutrients you consume into your bloodstream.
- Limit your salt and sugar intake. It’s no surprise that salt can contribute to high blood pressure, strokes and other main health issues. Avoid processed and pre-packaged foods like canned soups, boxed meals and frozen dinners that are jam-packed with sodium. Also, keep in mind that eating out can also pose as a major culprit…this can be difficult to monitor as many restaurant menus don’t always come with a list of nutrition facts per dish. So ask for your meal without salt or just a pinch. Sugar is another pesky one that can cause weight gain and even more serious complications like diabetes so it needs to be carefully consumed in proper amounts. Avoid sugary drinks like sodas and artificial fruit juices. A good practice is to sweeten your meal options yourself (like plain Greek yogurt, unsweetened tea and unflavored oatmeal), maintaining keen portion control. Also consume more naturally sweet food like fruits, peppers and peanut butter instead of cookies, cakes and candies.
Stay focused and fabulous, loves…your mind and body will thank you!