Diet and nutrition advice tends to get complicated, doesn't it? Eat this, don't eat that, drink this, don't drink that, try this, avoid that. It sometimes feels like a healthy diet requires more time, energy and attention than we have to give. We want to eat well, but we also want to get on with our lives.
Fortunately, those of us who are too busy to sort through complicated nutrition information or follow complex eating plan, can follow one simple healthy eating strategy. I call it the 2 x 3 + 1 Rule. If you follow it, you'll end up following many of the complicated nutrition "rules" and improve your diet without even trying. Are you ready for it? Here it is:
The 2 x 3 + 1 Rule - Eat 2 fruits or vegetables 3 times a day (i.e., at every meal) plus 1 as a snack.
That's it. If you can't make any other changes to improve your diet, just make this one - include 2 fruits or vegetables in every meal and one more as a snack. Why? Because that one change will trigger a cascade of positive changes. It will increase the amount of vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients in your diet. And it's likely to decrease the amount of salt, sugar, calories, and unhealthy fats. How? By replacing low-nutrition foods (e.g., a packaged rice mix for dinner or chips for a snack) with high-nutrition foods (e.g., a baked sweet potatoe for dinner or grapes for a snack).
Now, I said that this strategy is simple, and it is. But I know it isn't necessarily easy because, let's face it, prepping and serving fruits and vegetables requires a bit of work. And making sure that you have enough on hand for 3 meals and 1 snack every day requires some planning and effort. But if you're only making one change, and it's a change that really pays off in terms of a healthier diet and better nutrition, I think it's worth the effort. Here are 4 ways to make the 3 x 2 +1 Rule work for you without driving yourself crazy:
Wash and cut up fruits and vegetables before you need them. One of the things that keeps busy people from eating and serving more fruits and vegetables is the time it takes to wash and prep them. If it's 6:00 pm, everyone's hungry, and the salad vegetables haven't been washed and cut up, then a salad probably isn't going to happen. But, if some lettuce, pepper, cucumber and tomatoes are washed and ready to go, then quickly putting together a salad becomes an easy dinner option. (And if a simple homemade salad dressing is ready and waiting, even better!) So do some food prep on the weekends. Get your children involved - talk to them about healthy foods while showing them how to wash and cut different fruits and vegetables. (This will take more time at first, but can save you time in the long run.) Then package the ones you'll need for school/work lunches or snacks in grab-and-go bags or containers.
Need more help getting started? Download my free ebook, The Busy Woman's Guide to Quick and Healthy Meals and get 24 quick and healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners plus 22 food prep tips.