These days you can’t go anywhere without coming into contact with processed food. It’s everywhere — and the companies behind them want it to stay that way. Whether it’s the nachos at your favorite restaurant, most of the food in the center aisles of the grocery store and just about all the food out at holiday parties, sporting events and rest stops. And chances are, it’s all over your house.
It’s Monday. Mondays are exhausting, and you already know you won’t have the energy to make a meal at home.
You’ve been busy over the past few weeks…too busy to prepare a full grocery list and meal prep…but you know you should be doing that stuff. You tell yourself, “It’s okay, I’ll probably start that next week. This week is too busy.”
So instead you swing by the store to pick up a microwave meal and some chips for dinner.
Then you remember you have no food for breakfast and lunch tomorrow.
So you grab a few Yoplait yogurts and a bag of General Mills granola for breakfast and a prepared deli sandwich and crackers for lunch. That little voice in the back of your head says, “You can do better,” but you start to rationalize to yourself, “Yogurt is probably better than a Pop-Tart, and it has all that good bacteria stuff, so it must be good for me, right?” And, “The sandwich has lettuce and tomato in it so i’ll get all the major food groups in one, what can be so bad about that?”
Okay, dinner, lunch and breakfast covered, so you head on over to the checkout line. Now your stomach is really growling and you spot a Reeses Pieces and grab one to hold you over.
You look down at your cart and know these aren’t the best decisions, but it’s late and you’re tired. You’ll do better next week.
Have you ever felt this way? I think all of us can relate to feeling too busy to eat healthy.
But eating fast and processed foods can absolutely wreak havoc on our bodies. Although convenient, here’s what this food is doing to our bodies:
- Causing all types of digestive upset (Diagnosed with a chronic digestive disease? You can thank processed foods)
- Disrupting hormones (low libido and painful periods, ladies?)
- Causing weight gain (Have a few pounds you just can’t get rid of no matter what?)
- Leading to skin issues and acne (Even the best anti-acne medication isn’t getting rid of it!)
- Messing with your sleep (Why can’t I get to sleep and/or stay asleep? I’m freakin’ exhausted!)
- …and the list goes on
But there actually are ways to eat healthy that won’t suck up all your time.
Here’s how to do that.
The key is to make healthy eating your way of life, not something you’ll do when you have some free time. Of course with any lifestyle change, this will take some time to get used to, but over time it’ll become second nature (as stopping at the store for a quick bite is now) which will make eating healthy a cinch.
I used to work 60+ hours a week and lived right in the middle of Boston, so getting access to and having time to eat healthy wasn’t easy. But as soon as I woke up to the fact that the very food I was eating (processed foods) were literally killing me, I made the time to make this a part of my lifestyle. And after just 2 weeks, it no longer felt like it was taking up much of my time, I felt so much better, and I actually started to enjoy eating again!
So if you think you don’t have time to make healthier choices, ask yourself this: Do you have time to be sick later on in life?
Here’s how to develop a healthy eating lifestyle:
1. Clean house. One of the very first things I advise anyone to do when they’re cleaning up their diet is to throw out all the foods that aren’t serving them well. This will make giving into temptation a lot harder. If you think it’s not good for you, it probably isn’t. Once you clean out your cabinets, you can make room for healthier foods.
2. Learn to meal prep. Meal prep sounded really intimidating to me at first, but I now consider it an integral part of my weekend. Here’s how I do it: I look through my recipe books, pick out the breakfast, lunch and dinner meals I want and make my grocery list and go shopping! (I have a bunch of recipes on the blog you can use to get started.) You don’t have to make all of these meals at once, but pick a few that you’ll need for the first few days in the week and then decide on a day mid-week you can cook a few more meals in advance.
3. Stock your pantry with useful whole foods. As you grocery shop, start to accumulate basic whole foods that you can use in any number of meals, from quinoa to organic roasted tomatoes to coconut oil. This ensures that even on the days when you don’t have time to stop and pick up some fresh groceries, you have some really good food options to whip together. You could mix up quinoa, tomatoes, and beans, for example, for a filling, nutritious, and very easy meal.
4. Double up your meals. Another way to meal prep is to make double what you make. If you’re making a soup, meatloaf, pot roast, or salad, for example, make extras that you can either freeze or keep in the refrigerator to have later in the week for lunch or dinner. I do this all the time with soups.
5. Prepare breakfast the night before. Breakfast is a meal many of us skip because we just don’t have time. But breakfast is arguably the most important meal, and you should have it within 30 minutes of waking to kickstart your metabolism. But don’t grab a sugar-filled granola bar or processed yogurt (I’m looking at you..Yoplait). Instead, make my blueberry chia pudding recipe or grab an RxBar
6. Get fresh food delivered. This is clutch, especially if you live in a city or have a hard time finding time to get to a grocery store that sells organic foods. Here are some options:
- Join a local CSA (check for any in your area here). Make sure the farm you choose is organic, not all of them are. Some have just veggies, some fruits and veggies, some fruits, veggies and meat, so choose your flavor.
- Use a meat delivery service if your local CSA programs don’t have meat, or high quality meats (I use Walden Local Meats here in MA, they are fantastic)
- Get fresh fruits and veggies delivered if that’s all you need or if it’s more cost-effective and convenient. I use Boston Organics here in MA and absolutely love them.
Okay, so this all sounds great, but what are you supposed to do tonight? If you don’t have time to make a full meal, stop at the grocery store and grab a salad from the salad bar (Whole Foods has a great one) or make a quick quinoa pilaf (this is a really quick one to make).
Remember: Implementing each of these tips will take time, so don’t feel like you need to do all of them at once. Pick out one or two you think are most attainable and start working them into your week. Over time, as they become easier, start to add in more.
You really will be amazed at how easy eating healthy will become — and how much better you will feel. You may even forget those stomach pains you felt after every meal (I have!), eliminate the headaches and sleepless nights, and stop those nasty sugar cravings. Eating whole, organic, unprocessed foods will do wonders for your mind and body.
Think of it this way: The less that is in a food, the more it will do for you.
Making change is hard — especially if you’re already busy! I’ve been there. If you are struggling some health issues — digestive, sleeplessness, fatigue, weight, and so on — click here to schedule a free coaching session with me.
I work with clients to help them discover the connection between their symptoms and their food and lifestyle habits. We then work 1:1 to customize a plan to not only feel better again, but thrive!
This is exactly what I did to heal myself from chronic ulcerative colitis — but I want you to find your path a lot sooner I did. This first free session is designed to help kickstart your journey so you can walk away with several tips you can begin implementing immediately.