Chop, munch, grate, nibble, stir, sip–if this sounds similar to how you cook in your kitchen, no matter how healthy a meal you’re preparing, you could be ruining it before you even sit down to dinner. And it’s likely not the only fat-packing mistake you’re making in the kitchen. We’ve rounded up the top four, and provided helpful tips to take back control.
- Prepping = Snacking: While it’s one thing to taste your recipe as you go to make sure the seasoning is right, snacking as you cook is something completely different. It’s the extra slice of cheese you cut for yourself, the few walnuts you munch on before throwing in the food processor, or the heel of bread that you figure would just go to waste if you didn’t eat it. It may seem like a little here and a little there, but those calories and bad fats add up fast–especially if you’re not thinking of them as more than just a nibble.
Kitchen Control: Measure out exactly what you need for your recipe and then put the rest away before your willpower caves to cravings. If you’re prepping in advance, hide those ingredients so that it’s “out of sight, out of mind.” Also give yourself a reason not to eat by planning two main meals using similar ingredients. If you snack, you’ll come up short and have one less meal for the week. If you absolutely can’t control your prep-time snacking, choose wisely with chopped veggies.
- Cooking and Cocktails: It’s better to eat your calories than drink them, but sometimes a glass of chardonnay while cooking just feels complete. If you like an evening drink, try to save it for supper. When you’re cooking, you tend to tackle a lot of tasks at once. If you’re drinking while doing so, you might not realize how much your guzzling, and likely not even enjoying your beverage.
Kitchen Control: Go for water or iced tea while you’re cooking, which will keep you hydrated among the oven and stovetop heat while also filling you up so that you can take in less at mealtime. For dinner, enjoy your wine or cocktail when you can be more mindful.
- Not Swapping: Just because a recipe calls for large amounts of butter, flour, sugar, and salt doesn’t mean that there aren’t healthier alternatives that you could use as replacements.
Kitchen Control: Cook with a computer at your side. The Internet has loads of recommendations from experts and everyday cooks when a recipe calls for something you don’t want to eat, can’t eat, or simply don’t have. If you stock your kitchen with these good-for-you essentials, you’ll likely get used to swapping them in and out as needed. Also look for flavor alternatives. Instead of loading up on salt, see what a mix of dried or fresh herbs can do for your palate.
- Lingering Leftovers: Dinner might be over, but when it comes time to cleaning up the kitchen, you’re once again snacking as you put away what’s left. Just as when you were prepping, those tiny bites add up and can equal disaster for your fat-loss goals.
Kitchen Control: Portion out meals before you even sit down to eat. If you know you don’t want leftovers–or even second helpings–luring you in, pack up the food before heading to the table. Be sure to think about portion sizes for your leftovers as well. Store in smaller containers so that you can grab and go for lunch the next day instead of having to be again tempted to supersize from one big bowl.
It’s hard to avoid your kitchen if you’re making strides toward eating healthier. But just because it’s where the food lives, doesn’t mean it has to feel like a fat-laden danger zone. You have the control to keep it cool when you cook!
What kitchen tips do you use to eat healthier? Share with others in the comments!