THE BLOG

Eat for Abs

05/29/2014 10:39 pm ET | Updated Jul 29, 2014

Today, all over Instagram underneath every healthy food photo is the popular hashtag #eatforabs. Equally relevant to the conversation is the hashtag #eatforhealth. Even if you are not trying to eat your way to a washboard stomach, the underlying key to improved physical health is proper nutrition.

And it starts with self meal preparation.

Cooking your own meals throughout the day is a vital step in gaining control of weight management. Michele Smith, owner of Forever Fit With Michele and certified nutritionist out of NYC, concurs with the idea, stating, "It's a lot healthier because you have direct control on what's going into your food." Knowing what you're eating is half the battle, and according to Michele, "If you want to know exactly what you're eating, you have to be responsible for making your own meals."

However I often hear a complaint from people wanting to lose weight that cooking simply takes too much time. Ironically enough, the same person that makes this argument can also be seen standing in the Starbucks line for 20 minutes waiting on coffee and a bagel. Sound familiar? If we break down the actual time it takes to prepare a quick and easy meal this lost time can easily be discovered.

Let's examine breakfast, unanimously considered by health professionals as the most important meal of the day. New York City certified nutritionist and health and wellness expert Rhonda Huff believes that "with the right combination of foods to start your day, you can have more energy, prevent cravings, and ultimately eat less throughout the day." This is critical for someone looking to regulate their health and weight.

Overnight oat recipes have become very popular trends in the health community. They require minimal preparation and are a readily available option for those with busy morning schedules. To prepare it is easy. The night before, whether you're in the kitchen cooking dinner or chowing down on the Chinese take-out you waited half an hour for, consider spending an extra 5 - 10 minutes to prepare this effortless overnight oatmeal recipe.

Ingredients:

1) 1/2 cup of dry oatmeal
2) fruit (banana, raisins, etc)
3) 1-2 cups of 2 percent milk (or almond milk)

Add fruit for extra vitamins, nutrients, and a natural sweetener. Place them in a container with the dry oatmeal and your liquid of choice. If you like sweeter oatmeal or want more flavor, look to add either honey or cinnamon. A favorite oatmeal recipe of Rhonda's contains "apples, walnuts, and a little bit of honey." Once the ingredients are combined, stir or blend and then cover the container before placing it into the fridge. That's it. When you wake up in the morning the oats will be chewy as if you had cooked them and will be ready to eat! You can enjoy it cold or warm it up in the microwave. The whole process literally only takes five minutes. You cannot purchase a quicker breakfast anywhere.

As listed by the Whole Grains Council, additional benefits of regular oatmeal consumption include an increase in appetite-controlling hormones, a reduction of bad LDL cholesterol levels due to the high fiber content, and improved insulin sensitivity. However, if the idea of preparing breakfast the night before is too foreign or you're just not an oatmeal person, another quick, easy, and healthy recipe are microwaved eggs in a cup.

Ingredients:

1) 2 eggs
2) 2 slices of whole wheat toast
3) topping of choice (turkey, ham, tomato, etc.)

To prepare the eggs, all you have to do is crack two of them in a cup, season with salt and pepper, stir, and microwave on high for 45 seconds. Take them out and stir once more before microwaving for an additional 30-45 seconds. Once the eggs are done you can assemble a quick and easy egg sandwich by scooping them between two slices of whole wheat toast. Some common additions are turkey, ham, or a tomato slice, but you can add whatever toppings you like (with a health-conscious mind of course).

If you are accustomed to the convenience of eating out, preparing your own foods will seem difficult at first because it is going to require a change of habit. Michele affirms this notion with the belief that "nutrition is one of the most intimate habits and requires many behavioral changes." But if your physical health or body image is of priority to you then it is your worth your while to invest the energy into making these changes. It can be as easy and painless as you want it to be. Not only will you be saving yourself money, but you will also be saving yourself time. And since time equals money that's double the savings!