12 Ways to Sneak Healthier Food and More Exercise into your Daily Routine
Life is busy. We all intend to eat healthier food and be more active, but work and family commitments often get in the way. We skip our workouts when time runs out and make less-than-optimal food choices because they’re quicker and easier. But with some forethought, it’s relatively easy to add more nutrient-dense foods and short bursts of exercise to your busy schedule. Over the course of days, weeks, and months, the benefits of those small additions can really make a positive impact on your health. Here are 12 health hacks to sneak better-for-you foods and more exercise into your daily routine.
- Sneak protein or collagen powder into oatmeal, waffles, pancakes, banana bread, or even cookies and brownies. Collagen powder is flavorless, dissolves in water, and packs in up to 10 grams of protein per scoop. And depending on your specific recipe, vanilla or chocolate protein powder can be added without disrupting the flavor profile.
- Jonesing for salt? Try salted almonds, steamed edamame, roasted chickpeas, or pumpkin seeds with sea salt instead of corn or potato chips. A one-ounce serving of almonds – about 23 of them – has six grams of protein. A half cup of roasted chickpeas has seven grams, and a half-cup of roasted pumpkin seeds has six grams. These snacks will satisfy your snack craving more quickly and for longer than a bag of chips.
- Replace mayonnaise with hummus as a flavorful sandwich spread. Mayo is delicious, but it packs 100 calories and 10 grams of fat into just one tablespoon. Hummus, however, has just 60 calories and three grams of fat in a quarter-cup.
- Earn Your Shower! Wake up five minutes earlier so you can squeeze in a set of squats, pushups, lunges, or plank holds before your morning shower. Make a quick sweat part of your wake-up routine.
- Sneak greens into a smoothie or protein shake. One cup of spinach or kale will blend seamlessly into a shake or smoothie, leaving no unpleasant chunks and adding a powerful punch of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. And when added to flavored protein powder and fresh or frozen fruits, the taste of the greens disappears. Half of an avocado also adds a pleasant creaminess, along with vitamins and healthy fats, to smoothies and shakes.
- Use real blueberries or sliced strawberries instead of sugar-packed jellies and jams on your peanut butter sandwiches for extra antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins. Traditional strawberry jelly packs 12 grams of sugar into just one tablespoon, and you’re likely to use at least twice that for a sandwich. Fresh strawberries, however, have just seven grams of sugar in an entire cup.
- Skip sweet drinks in favor of fruit-infused waters for flavorful, spa-like hydration without the sugar. Any combination of fresh fruits, herbs and some vegetables make for flavorful waters, but some of the most popular are strawberry, basil and lemon; blueberry, lemon and rosemary; cucumber and mint; orange and ginger; pineapple and lime; and grapefruit and mint. Just add chopped fruit and herbs to a large pitcher of water and refrigerate for at least two hours.
- Try turkey burgers instead of traditional beef burgers. Add in chopped veggies for flavor, texture and an extra nutritional punch. Ground turkey has less saturated fat and fewer calories than ground beef. And if you’re feeling extra motivated, use a lettuce wrap or baked, sliced sweet potato in lieu of a bun to decrease carbohydrates and increase your vegetable intake.
- Try pre-made cauliflower pizza crusts from the frozen food aisle at your grocery store for a healthier, lower-fat, at-home pizza night. And with all the cheese you’ll put on top, your kids won’t even notice they’re eating a vegetable!
- Take your conference calls on the go. Plug in your headphones and go for a walk while you talk with your colleagues. Keep the pace easy so you won’t be out of breath when you have to contribute. Plus, the fresh air and activity boosts brain function. And if walking is too much, try just taking your calls standing up for a simple posture break.
- Top Greek yogurt with chopped nuts, berries and a swirl of local honey for a healthy snack that feels like an ice cream sundae. A five-ounce serving of nonfat Greek yogurt is just 80 calories, has only six grams of sugar and packs in a whopping 15 grams of protein. And if you let your kids pick their toppings, they’ll be a lot more likely to eat up.
- On your next pasta night, puree zucchini or summer squash and mix it in with your sauce. Your family won’t even notice the extra helping of vegetables they’re getting.