We hear it all the time, “I don’t have time to eat healthy.” While I could get into the psychology of trading time now for time in your coffin, that’s way too deep a subject to cover here. Let’s instead take a look at the logistics of creating healthy food choices and a few tips for squeezing some healthier options into your life.
How are you eating now?
This is always an interesting question to ask clients. Often the answer is drive thru’s, grab-n-go from home, fast-casual restaurants or sitting in front of the TV. This food-on-the-go or food as an accessory speaks volumes to our multitasking, never-really-focus-on-anything lifestyle. And it’s killing us.
What if what you eat (I won’t even call it food because most fast-food isn’t food at all) got moved up the priority list a couple of spots? What might that look like in your life? What if you actually took a moment to THINK about what you’re putting into your body? Just a thought exercise for you. Let’s look at some practical options for eating just a little healthier:
- Drink water or unsweetened tea – Sugary drinks, including sports drinks, are empty calories that no one needs. I have heard, “I don’t like to drink plain water.” Do it anyway. Your taste buds will adjust and your body will thank you in SO many ways.
- Buy veggies pre-chopped – Eating veggies like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, cucumbers and celery is easier if it’s already cut into pieces you can eat with your fingers. If you’re not eating in the car, dip them in hummus or natural peanut butter. Yes, it’s more expensive than buying them un-chopped. But if you’re not going to chop them and they rot in your fridge, that isn’t a win.
- Frozen veggies are your friend – Peas, corn and broccoli are our go-to’s. You can eat them cold (yes right out of the freezer) or pop them in the microwave with some water for a couple of minutes. They are great on salads as a protein source. We also have sweet potato and squash, but they are more work.
- Keep nuts, seeds and dried fruit in the house – I am munching on dried mangoes (no sugar added) as I type this. A handful or so of almonds, pecans, cashews, peanuts (although some think of peanuts as vegan junk food) and some dried fruit (we have mangos, raisins, plums and apricots in the house) is a great snack. And it travels well in a Ziploc bag or small Tupperware. Frozen fruit is also a good snack at home.
- Have salad fixin’s ready to grab – you can buy these already washed and chopped or you can chop them yourself. But if all you have to do is pull the containers out of the fridge and throw a salad together, you’re more likely to do it. We usually have: kale/spinach, beets, red cabbage, tomatoes, olives, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, peppers, onions (red/green), avocado, quinoa and lentils. As noted above, peas and corn are easy as well.
- Put ground flaxseed on everything – It is a super food. Seriously. It helps prevent prostate and breast cancer, has amazing nutrients and the fiber is great for your gut microbes. Cereal, salad, soup, pasta, casserole, smoothies, you name it, you can put flaxseed on it. Sure, it’s best if you buy it whole and grind it yourself. But if you’re not going to do that, buy it ground and keep it in the fridge. You can totally do this.
- Get rid of the junk food in your house – If it’s not there you won’t eat it. But, if you do this without replacing it with some of the ideas above, you’re going to find yourself hungry, staring at an empty pantry and cussing me. Don’t do that. Bring in healthy stuff to replace the junk.
- Cook in batches – I know a lot of people don’t cook anymore. But surely you can turn on the oven to 400 and put some potatoes or sweet potatoes in there for 30 minutes to an hour (depending on how big your potatoes are). Or put a cup of rice or quinoa in a pot with two cups of water and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes. Lentils are cooked the same way as quinoa, no soaking needed. Now you have food that’s easy to heat and eat. Add taco seasoning, avocado, hummus, mustard or whatever floats your boat. Just typing that makes me want to have a burrito for lunch.
- Try new recipes – Don’t be intimidated by cooking. It’s not as hard as you might think. I had to tweak the way I think about cooking when we went plant-based. But overall, it hasn’t been a big deal. The Forks Over Knives website is a great place to start.
When people say, “I don’t have time” what I’ve found they actually mean is, “It is too daunting to try to do it all.” So, don’t do it all. Pick one thing and do that. Next week pick another. When we started moving towards being plant-based we never planned on being 100% and we got great results just moving in the plant-based direction. I know you will too.
Let us know what healthy habit you add this week!
If you are ready to address how your food choices are negatively affecting your health, let’s set up a free get-to-know-you chat. Send me an email and let’s get you on track to taking control of your stress eating. Health@RnRJourney.com
Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at Health@RnRJourney.com.