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I failed horribly when I started on the path to cutting processed foods in our home.
In the beginning I was a little obsessed with making over our diet. I woke up early, cooked everything from scratch and spent a whole lot of time in the kitchen. It was exhausting and I knew there was no way I would be able to keep doing it. I found myself making excuses and a few processed foods (especially breakfast cereal) started making their way back into my shopping trolley.
I started telling myself things like:
“It’s only a few things”,
“I need a break”
“It’s too hard”
“It’s not that bad”
I was setting my self up to fail.
But the problem is – you can’t unlearn what you know. And the truth is that Processed foods are bad for us.
I had to work a little smarter if I was going to succeed. So I learned to take a few shortcuts.
The 80/20 Rule
I read an amazing book last year called The 80/20 Principal and it changed how I looked at the process of giving up processed foods. The idea behind the 80/20 Rule is that 80% of the results you get can be achieved by only 20% of the things you do. The author explains it a lot better than me, so it’s definitely worth adding to your library.
By making a few simple changes and cleaning up 20% of our diet, we could cut out 80% of the processed foods we were consuming and we would naturally be eating Clean, real foods at least 80% of the time! For me, that was a damn good start!
So I went about making a list of the 5 things that would make the biggest difference to our diet and then setting up a system that would make these things easy to follow through on.
5 Healthy Eating Hacks that will Improve your Diet by 80%
1. Easy Breakfast Options.
Breakfast was the hardest meal time to clean up. I was used to stocking the pantry with boxed cereals. And it was really difficult to change this. When I first started cutting processed foods, I didn’t have a system in place. I would get up early, cook breakfast from scratch, try and get everyone up and to the table to actually eat it. And it was hard! I have a lot of respect for Moms who get this achieved every morning (and I do know some). It just wasn’t happening for me.
I knew that I needed a couple of fast ‘instant’ breakfast options that the kids could feed themselves – without my help – on school mornings and then make it a priority to stock up on a few of these breakfasts every week.
See More Fast Breakfast Recipes:
2. Clean Eating Snack List
It’s pretty easy to clean out your pantry and stock up on real food. Oh yes, that’s the easy part.
The hard part is learning what to eat. Our family was used to having ‘ready to eat’ foods in little plastic bags. Opening a real food pantry or fridge is a little different. What you get is a whole lot of ‘ingredients’. My family had to relearn how to snack and I got a whole lot of the “What can I eat” and “There’s nothing to eat” comments from the family (husband included).
To fix this, I made a little list of 50 Clean Eating Snacks. It’s a handy reference list I keep stuck to the fridge. It was a game changer! At any time the family can check the list and get some ideas on what equates to a healthy snack.
Related Post: FREE PRINTABLE: 50 Clean Eating Snacks below:
3. Drink Water at Home. ALWAYS
Soda is packed with sugar and what it’s doing to our kids is scary. Some children are getting up to a third of their daily calories from soda. And I have a sneaky suspicion it’s a lot higher families like to admit.
Unfortunately it’s not just soda that causes a problem. Fruit juices are also a major source of unnecessary sugar.
You wan’t me to quit drinking fruit Juice? Yup. Well at home anyway.
Think about it. A glass of apple juice contains the juice of 3 – 4 apples. If you had to eat an apple, as in the whole thing, as it came off the tree. Could you manage to eat 3 or 4 in one sitting? I doubt it. Your brain would scream STOP round about half way through the second one.
It can be difficult to decide how far you want to go with the Healthy Eating process but I decided that since we spent most of our time (The 80% number comes to mind) at home, if I simply made it a habit to drink water at home then this issue would sort itself. And it did!
I simply stopped buying soda and fruit juice at the weekly shop. If we have a function, go out for dinner or have a treat, then that’s OK. I let it go if the kids want to order a fruit juice or even a soda (Gasp!). But at Home we drink Water.
Some More Great Reasons to drink more Water:
- Dehydration is Making you Sick and Fat
- The Benefits of Drinking Water for 30 Days
- 12 Wonderful Water Infusions
4. Lunchbox Planning System
I pack over 1,500 lunchboxes for my family every year. What I put in the lunchbox accounts for a third of what they eat in the day. In our ‘Processed food Days” this meant popping a couple of bags of premade goodies into the lunchbox.
Then we started eating Clean …..
I hit a lot of Lunchbox Making Blanks. I literally had no idea what to put in lunchboxes every day.
The Mix and Match Lunchbox Planner
I purchased these lunchboxes which I have been using for around 3 years now. It has three compartments which fits perfectly with my 3 Step Lunch Planner. I’m not kidding when I say I like to systematize things.
5. The “Go To” Dinner List
Life is busy. And that crazy time after school and before bedtime is ridiculously busy! Squeezing a home cooked meal into that little spot can be a nightmare.
To avoid an all too frequent fast food stop, I made a list of “Go to Meals”. These are meals that I can get on the table fast – in 30 minutes or less. Oh my Gosh! This is honestly the best thing ever. No more “What should I make for dinner” panic sessions. I just choose something off the list! Click here to download my Dinner Time Cheatsheet
Putting it all Together
These 5 Little Changes mean that our family eats Real Food MOST of the time. Life still happens. There are still birthday parties, sweets and treats and that’s OK. Finding what worls for your family is part of the process. For us, it meant making a few changes that made the most amount of difference to to our daily eating habits.