Search This Blog

Thursday, April 14, 2016

7 Secrets To Sneaky Nutrition

In case you were wondering, I Googled it - sneaky nutrition IS a "thing." I had no idea, but I've been using it for a while now. I'm married to a very picky eater, and I have a 13 month-old who has ZERO interest in eating table food. So I have to be sneaky with our nutrition. I'm trying to be creative in finding new and sneaky ways to ensure that we're getting healthy, balance meals, all while I'm trying to lose weight, tone up, and train for a few obstacle course races I have coming up! It's not easy, and I'll be honest - I don't enjoy cooking enough to want to work this hard. But I DO love my family and the results I've seen in our overall health.

I hit a milestone this last month: I'VE LOST 60 LBS in the last year! That's 30 lbs past what I gained during my pregnancy. I'm over the moon! A lot of that is due to a combination of my BeachBody workouts, Shakeology, and other workouts (mostly swimming, I LOVE to swim!). However, anyone who has been in the fitness game for more than a month will tell you that there's no super workout or fad diet available that will fix your eating habits. YOU have to do that. It is completely up to you to develop and maintain healthy habits that will help ensure you achieve your goals long term. The 21 Day Fix helped me to do that by learning portion sizing and which food groups to ingest the most.

To be completely honest right now, I've plateaued. I reached the 60 lb mark and almost instantly plateaued. It can be so discouraging to not see the dramatic changes anymore. I've still got 20-30 lbs to go; why can't they drop as easily as the last 30 lbs?! Well, it wasn't easy, but at least I was seeing weekly progress. I was following the 21 Day Fix diet most of the time, but I still had some of my bad habits. Sugary drinks are my Achilles' heel, and I love chocolate. I was on-the-go more too, so I was eating out more. Sure, I got mostly salads, grilled chicken, etc. But I would throw in a small soda, maybe a small fry (for the baby, I swear! heh) see where this is going. I'm blessed in that I didn't gain the weight back. But something needs to change or I know I am in danger! In addition to increasing the intensity of my workouts and adding more variety, I know I need to tweak our diet.

Thus my avid interest in sneaky nutrition. I have to be gluten-free, and my hubby has several food allergies, so figuring out how to balance our meals can sometimes be tricky. Here are some of the best ways I've found to help you sneak extra nutrition into your meals (and change your habits):

1. Swap "zoodles" (zucchini noodles) or spaghetti squash in for normal pasta whenever possible. This is such an easy way to sneak in extra veggies. When paired with a no-sugar-added pasta sauce, or a Thai peanut sauce, you can't even tell the difference! Just remember a few tips:
- Zoodles don't require much oil or time to cook. Keep an eye on them or they'll go soggy!
- Brush spaghetti squash with a little EVOO or other oil (avocado is my fave) before roasting it, cut side down.
- If you're not going to cook them immediately, store in a closed container in the fridge with some lemon juice to preserve freshness.

2. Drink more water! My husband challenged me to drink at least 1 GALLON of water per day for 30 days. I'm only 4 days in and I can already tell a HUGE difference in my appetite, cravings, energy, and overall health. If you can't stand the thought of drinking it straight, try adding fresh fruit and/or veggies to a jug of water. One of my favorites is to add blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries to ice water and let it sit in the fridge for 2-4 hrs before drinking it. YUM. The lemon/cucumber/mint option is also delicious. If you're worried about chunks in your water, I use these little baskets dunked in a pitcher. They contain the fruit while allowing it to flavor the water.

3. Shakes/smoothies/purees are delicious AND nutritious! I personally use Shakeology. It's like a multivitamin in smoothie form, plus it has all the pre- and probiotics you need to help with healthy digestion. I always add fresh fruit, a handful of spinach, and coconut oil to mine for even more nutritious benefits. I also prefer to make purees for my daughter (when she'll eat them - she's picky too!). I have reusable pouches and a little gadget to help fill them. I've learned that my food processor and blender are two of my favorite kitchen appliances! If you'd like to know more about Shakeology, feel free to contact me or see the "About" page.

4. Make some of your most commonly used foods yourself. I have so many plans for my bread maker, and my crock pot is another one of my favorite appliances. I most recently used it to make my own "baked apples" as a special treat. You can make applesauce the same way. Veggie, potato/sweet potato, and kale chips are easy enough to make in your oven. It's also not hard to make your own yogurt, seasoning blends, soups, etc. By making them yourself, you know what is actually in them and limit the amount of extra chemicals and non-nutritive ingredients you eat. You can also seize the opportunity to sneak extra nutritious ingredients in!

5. Grow your own garden. I'm working on a patio garden and I can't wait to use the fresh ingredients in my cooking! I'll have tomatoes of various kinds and lots of fresh herbs. I hope to have a larger garden later, when we have the space. Growing a garden teaches kids the value of working hard and eating fresh foods, and it's fun for them to be able to enjoy the fruits of their labors! This also allows you to cut out a lot of the chemicals, waxes, etc. that come with store-bought veggies. If you can't grow a garden of your own right now, try looking into a local co-op such as Bountiful Baskets. They provide fresh produce every week for relatively cheap, and they even have organic options.

6. Sit down every week and create a family meal plan. There are tons of options out there for planners and organizational systems. I personally use several in order to ensure I'm faithful while I shop for groceries and cook our meals. I'll admit I'm not always faithful to do this, especially when my hubby is gone for long periods of time. But I swear, it makes a marked difference in our grocery bill and meal quality. It also helps to even make some meals in advance, such as salads and soups. One of my new favorite ideas is mason jar salads. It's a great way to save fridge space, have healthy meals on hand for days when I just don't feel like making lunch, and use all those mason jars that have been gathering dust in the basement! I also like to make some of our favorite soups/stews and freeze them, and my sister introduced me to "sandwich bag omelettes." I think they're going to revolutionize our mornings, especially on days when my husband has to rush out the door extra early for work!

7. Allow yourself the occasional treat. This one is so very important! I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but if you don't allow yourself a treat at least once per week, you're a lot more likely to give up altogether and eat revert to your healthy habits. I personally like to have a glass of wine at least once per week while relaxing on the couch with my husband or in a nice bubble bath. I also allow myself chocolate almonds and mango sorbet (my husband's favorite) on occasion. These treats are necessary for curbing my cravings and helping me to remind myself that my choice to eat healthier is NOT a punishment.

So that's it, those are the top 7 ways I've learned to be a bit sneakier about our nutrition. It's a lot of work sometimes, I won't lie to you. I still haven't tried making our own yogurt, and I honestly might not because my husband is lactose intolerant. But I want to do everything I can to limit the amount of unnecessary chemicals we're ingesting and maximize the nutrient density of our meals. How about you? Do you have any ideas to add? What works best for your family? I hope you're all having a wonderful week!

Hapless but hopeful,


  1. Great suggestions! I need to meal-plan more, I think it would be great for our budget and in helping us to eat healthier in general.

    1. It will definitely do both! You'll find you only buy the food you need, so it cuts back on your bill and your trash. I've also found that when I have a plan and it's posted for my family to see, I stick to it. It's like unspoken, self-imposed accountability!

  2. Wow!!! Sixty pounds is awesome! Kuddos to you for your hard work and determination.