When new clients come to our office, we’re always fascinated by what they tell us they’ve eaten in the past when they’re trying to clean up their diets. Nine times out of 10, their best intentions to eat healthfully go awry and, ultimately, end up backfiring, causing people to fall off the healthy-eating track. Here are three common clean-eating dinnertime mistakes and how to fix them.
Mistake 1: You think your healthy dinner options are limited.
You know eating grilled chicken is one of your few safe bets so you make it most nights. You can only eat a plain grilled chicken breast so often, however before you get bored and your taste buds wander and you go off track.
Fix: Just like healthy people, healthy meals come in all different shapes, appearances and sizes. Grilled chicken isn’t the only healthy protein food out there. How about fish, turkey, lean cuts of beef, lentils and plant-based proteins? Being healthy is not just about a boring grilled chicken.
Get creative—try healthy lasagnas, quinoas and spiced-up fish, all of which offer a good source or satiating protein as well as other nutrients. Consider these healthy meals:
If you do want grilled chicken, it doesn’t have to be boring—spice it up and reap health benefits, too. Skinless chicken breast is lean, satisfying and rich in protein, iron and B vitamins, but grilling chicken isn’t the only way to prepare it. Add spices to make a dish explode with flavor. Take your taste buds on a trip around the world by adding Latin, Asian, Mediterranean or Mexican-inspired spices, which are packed with health-promoting antioxidants and phytonutrients that help to prevent diseases like heart disease and cancer by fighting damage to your body from free radicals and inflammation.
Mistake 2: You turn to your standbys—usually steamed broccoli or steamed green beans—for your dinner veggie.
You’re correct in thinking these are healthy, but, as in the first mistake, preparing the same food over and over gets boring. When your taste buds get bored, it’s easy to stray from your “get-healthy” eating plan. Lack of flavor or variety is a top reason for falling off track.
The Fix: There are a lot of veggies out there other than broccoli—and they’re easy to make, too. And you don’t have to turn to a traditional salad! Think about veggies that are seamlessly incorporated into your meals or try out delish veggie sides such as these (Note: The first three options can be main courses; simply adjust the serving size. You’ll notice the veggies are mixed right in.):
Mistake 3: You cut carbs after lunch or avoid them altogether at dinner.
This is one of the quickest ways to set up your body to crave sugar after dinner. Leaving a quality carbohydrate out of your evening meal means you are depriving your brain and your body of fuel. Plus, a meal of only veggies and protein makes it easier to stray from your clean-eating regime.
The fix: Add a small portion of a quality, fiber-packed carbohydrate to your dinner, such as one-half to one cup of a whole grain like quinoa or brown rice, or a small sweet potato.