Thou shalt not preach!
It is all well and good people like me preaching at you and telling you that you need to eat better but does it mean you will? I doubt it. Unless you are really committed and you have USEFUL advice under your belt that it will all be water off a ducks back.
So here are some tips from me to you to help you get on track and more importantly stay there!
1. Keep it Real
Choose real, whole foods as often as you can. What do I mean by that exactly? Foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Lean proteins, nuts, seeds and unprocessed foods. Any foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.
Our bodies are meant to consume foods made from the earth, not from factories. We are designed to operate best on foods that are rich in nutrients, not in chemicals. We should eat foods that make us feel good, not bad. So where you can, start by picking real, fresh foods and go from there. Your body will thank you, I promise!
2. Help You Help Yourself
I always find it helpful to spend at least one hour on meal advanced preparation each week. That doesn’t mean you have to prepare all of your meals for the week in full on Saturday or Sunday. Nor does it mean you must portion your weeks worth of lunches into individual plastic containers.
All I mean is to take a little bit of time each weekend to make your life way easier during the week. Just by doing a little bit of prep work for yourself you can ensure you stand a better chance of not giving into temptation.
Doing something as simple as chopping a few peppers or onions to have on hand for dinners during the week will save you agonies galore. Cooking a big batch of cauliflower rice to have as a base for your lunches will save you a ton of time (and stress) when it comes to weekday meals.
Whether you’re getting home late from work or the kids have a cricket game, having less work to do for a meal makes it 100% more likely to actually happen. Make a goal to set aside just one hour for this each week and I promise you’ll notice a big difference!
3. Be Prepared
The above being said, how will you know what you need to prep for the week if you don’t know what you want to make? You won’t! Start by making a list at the beginning of the week of what meals you plan to have. List out the ingredients you will need to make them. When you go grocery shopping you will not find yourself aimlessly walking around the store putting things into your trolley that you don’t need. Worse still, forgetting items you do need, leading to an extra grocery tip trip during the week.
Making a grocery list immediately sets you up for a great week because it gives you a built-in action plan. Try writing your dinner ideas for the week down on a calendar and hang it up on your fridge, or make notes of your weekly emails on your phone. It can be fun to create a photo album on your iPhone, “This Week’s Meals”. Save pictures/recipes for each day so you have a visual and something accessible if you need to look up ingredients while you are at the store. Being prepared means setting yourself up for success!
4. Embrace the Power of Leftovers
I believe there are two types of people in this world: those who have leftovers and those who don’t. I hope to one day show the latter group is really missing out. Seriously! I think food often tastes even better the next day, since the flavours have had time to sink in, marinate and develop. You can repurpose things in new ways. Have Chicken Lettuce Wraps for dinner on Monday? Throw the filling into an egg scramble for breakfast on Tuesday. Two great, healthy meals for the price and work of one and you didn’t waste any food. Win-win!
5. Create Your Own Healthy Environment
Have you ever heard someone say that if you keep healthy food around, you’ll eat healthy food? And if you keep junk food around, that’s what you eat? Well it’s true! Think about it...
I would like to share one of the most valuable concepts I have learned during my years as a Naturopath and Nutritionist. It is that our environment plays a major role in the health decisions we make. For example, if we open our fridge and see fizzy drinks and lollies front and centre. The water and fruit are shoved into the bottom back corner, the first option for many of us is going to be the candy bar. Why? Because it’s readily available, easily accessible, and, well, it looks and tastes good. Plus, the fruit has to be washed, peeled and prepared, so from a convenience standpoint, the sweetie bar wins.
But, what if we made a few small changes to our environment? What if we pre-washed the fruit, put it into an open bowl and moved it to the front of the refrigerator. Place it at eye level and put the lollies and soda in the corner down below? Or better yet, what if we eliminated the candy and soda all together? Leaving the fruit as the only option?
We can’t always control every element of our environment. There are simple efforts we can make to help put ourselves in better situations when it comes to making healthy decisions in our everyday lives. If you are tired of being tempted by donuts at work meetings try eating breakfast before you get to the office. Want to stop hitting up the vending machine for your 3 p.m. snack? Leave your cash at home and put a bag of almonds in your purse.
Small changes can have big outcomes and can help make the healthy choices easier.
6. Find Your Balance
I have “to-dos” covered from personal experience on how important finding balance is to a healthy lifestyle. It can be easy to have an all-or-nothing personality when it comes to diet or exercise or work or school, but I found that it’s actually okay to not be all in. It’s okay not to eat a 100% Paleo diet. It’s okay not to do a killer workout seven days a week. The important thing that I continue to reiterate is that you find a balance that works for you. Whether that means you follow the “80/20” rule, you eat Paleo, you eat vegan, you eat whatever the hell you want; by all means do it. If it’s a lifestyle that’s healthy and treats your mind and body well, I’m a fan of it.