10 Ways DIY Meals Make a Healthy Lifestyle Stick

Article posted in: South Beach Living
Healthy

It’s easier to lose weight when you regiment your diet to include pre-made, nutritious meals and healthy snacks. But real life cuts into being able to enjoy these ready-to-go South Beach favorites at every occasion (think dinner parties, holidays, restaurants and temptations). That’s why your South Beach meal plan gives you the flexibility to prepare two of your own breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks each week in Phase 1 and 2.

The idea is that practice makes perfect—and that’s exactly it. Make healthy recipes now, and you’ll have more success using these learned principles in inevitable situations down the road.

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Here are 10 reasons why DIY’ing sets you up for long-term success:

1. Healthy Portions

portions

When you cook your own foods keeping South Beach principles in mind, you’re sticking to the portion sizes spelled out in your South Beach Diet handbook. To ensure you’re staying on track with proper portion sizes, use these comparisons: A three-ounce serving of chicken or steak should be a little smaller than the size of your fist; a three-ounce serving of fish equates to the size of a checkbook; a two-ounce serving of sausage or rolled deli meat is roughly the size of two lipstick containers; a cup of uncooked non-starchy vegetables compares to a tennis ball.

If you’re not cooking for yourself, remember to watch your portions when you’re out to eat. Restaurant portions have doubled or tripled in years past. On average, restaurateurs consume 134 more calories than if they ate the same meal or snack at home, says the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

2. Healthy Recipes

chicken chili

We know DIY meals can be a little intimidating, which is why every South Beach Diet recipe has nutrition facts and Phase 1, 2 or 3 approvals. For example, our Shredded Chicken Chili is approved for Phases 2 and 3 and provides one healthy fat, one  lean protein and one good carb. Based on the South Beach Grocery Guide, it’s easy to make this correlation and to know what’s what: The diced avocado counts as a healthy fat, the lean protein comes from the chicken breast, and the beans count as your good carb. If you’re wise enough to continue logging your meals (it’s a proven method for losing weight and keeping it off) you can easily see what nutrition boxes you’ve checked for the day and what’s still on the list.

3. Healthy Doesn’t Mean Boring

Cauliflower Pizza

The fact that you can have pizza (that tastes delicious!) on a low carb meal plan is tempting in itself. When you’re trying to eat healthy, there’s no reason you have to eat grilled chicken and broccoli every single night. Try this delicious Cauliflower Pizza, or switch things up with our Garlic and Soy Grilled Pork Chops and Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Breakwiches. These are just a few of the DIY recipes you can make at home and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Check out hundreds of recipes right here on The Palm and check back often for new ones!

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4. Healthy Ingredients

Healthy food

Healthy recipes begin with healthy ingredients. The more you cook our recipes, the more familiar you become with what is classified as a lean protein, which veggies are non-starchy, how many healthy fats you can have in a day and which carbs are good carbs. From the olive oil that coats the pan to the lamb chops that go in it, healthy ingredients are accessible and will seem less intimidating the more you cook with them. If you like this Chimichurri Sauce you make with the Lamb Chops, you can also use it enhance salmon, chicken or even a vegetable stir-fry.

5. Healthy Meal Prep

meal prep

Cooking does take some prep work and planning ahead. But every minute of that prep work is time well spent. For example, if you plan to have meatballs and spaghetti squash for dinner on Monday night, you can take the leftovers for lunch on Tuesday or Wednesday. While you’re at the store, you may notice sweet bell peppers are on sale and hummus is right there for the taking. Now you’ve found an afternoon snack for the week. Grab some eggs and you’ve rounded out your breakfasts and evening snacks in one purchase. The more you prepare, the less likely you are to snack on something from the vending machine or skip a meal.

6. Healthy Family

healthy family

Haven’t you always wanted to provide healthy, nutritious foods for your family? Do you want your children to know how to cook healthy foods? This is your chance. Bring the kids along for the next trip to grocery store and let them pick out their favorite lean proteins, veggies, fruits, healthy fats and good carbs. Then, show them how to prepare them at home. Healthy eating can be fun and informative.

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7. Healthy Means Moderation

moderation

Of course you won’t always be the cook. In fact, if you prefer never to step foot in the kitchen again, you can eat every DIY meal out. Just be careful not to associate “out” with a special occasion and reason to order the fettuccini alfredo every night. If you want to treat yourself to something, have a glass of wine (preferably a dry red) or beer. Or, have a small piece of dessert—splitting it amongst the table gives you just enough to satisfy that craving. Remember, everything can be enjoyed in moderation and on occasion, and allowing yourself small indulgences will keep you on track long term.

8. Healthy Vacations

vacation

You’re on vacation. Do you want to eat everything in sight? Don’t restrict yourself completely, but keep the South Beach portions and principles in mind.  Experiment with local cuisine that falls within the guidelines you’ve worked so hard to maintain. Go to local diners or cafes and ask the chef for a recommendation on something healthy. Seek out restaurants that are farm-to-table, known for fresh seafood, or make everything from scratch. Order things you may not cook at home and find out how to make them. Variety keeps dinner interesting and enticing.

9. Healthy Habits

exercise and eating

Research from a February 2015 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition states that exercise can be linked to healthier eating. It’s all because of a “transfer effect,” wherein learning new skills and information (how to exercise) transfers to a second behavior (eating). Once exercise becomes part of a person’s regular routine, he/she no longer has to think about it freeing up the brain to take on another get-healthy challenge. So what does this have to do with DIY meals? Exercise is the other key factor in maintaining your healthy lifestyle. If healthy cooking habits help fuel consistency at the gym—or vice versa—that’s a win.

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10. Healthy = Happy

You can eat your way to happiness. By preparing your own nutritious meals, you’re directly affecting the structure and function of your brain and, ultimately, your mood, says Harvard Health. When we eat high-quality foods with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, we protect our brains from oxidative stress. Further, serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep and appetite, mediates moods and inhibits pain. About 95% is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, which is lined with nerve cells so researchers now understand that what happens in the gut (and what we eat) influences emotions. Incorporating naturally fermented probiotic foods like kimchi and yogurt into your diet can lower anxiety levels, perception of stress and improve mental outlook. Learn more about eating your way to happiness here >

Take the first step towards leading a healthy lifestyle—get started with your South Beach meal plan today! >