“Oh I’ll just start again on Monday…”
How many of us have said that over the years? It’s not hard to fall off the wagon, even when our intentions at the start of the week seemed so legitimate.
I would say the only down-fall of eating healthy when you already have a busy job or home life, is the fact that you need to be organized in order for it to flow. If you’re not naturally an organized person, then this can become a little challenging and it’s where I’ve seen many clients feel like giving up.
The simple fact of the matter is, that it’s much easier to buy packaged, pre-made foods and snacks then it is to spend the time cooking them at home, especially if you don’t actually enjoy cooking. When we’re not organized or don’t have healthy options at our fingertips, we become complacent and choose whatever is easiest. This could be a packet of gluten free pretzels (gluten free to reduce our guilt factor), but pretzels nonetheless. Once the guilt has set in, many people then spiral down from there, one bad meal triggers another, and another, because of the guilt or shame attached to it you feel like you’ve let yourself down. So instead of simply picking yourself back up and ensuring the next thing in your mouth is healthy, you feel as though you’ve already lost the battle.
So how on earth do we get more organised? Here are my tips for ensuring a healthy week, every week.
Out of sight, out of mind
What’s currently in your pantry or fridge? Is there anything that shouldn’t be there? The best way to start a healthy lifestyle, is to ensure that everything you are trying to reduce or remove, is totally out of sight and out of mind. Spend one day after work this week going through your kitchen and throwing away anything that could tempt you to make poor food choices. Lollies, chocolates, fizzy drinks, energy drinks, white bread, white pasta, bottled sauces, 2 minute noodles…
Find healthy alternatives to the food you love
Being healthy doesn’t mean you have to eat lettuce leaves your whole life. All recipes can be tweaked to be healthier, whether it be adding extra grated veg to your Bolognese sauce, or swapping the white rice with that beef curry for brown. It might be that you use quinoa flakes instead of bread crumbs the next time you make chicken schnitzel, and you might choose to bake it in the oven instead of fry it in vegetable oil. Small changes to the food you love can turn an unhealthy meal, into a healthy one where you don’t need to sacrifice the flavor. The great thing about the growth in awareness around healthy eating is that there are so many blogs out there full of amazing (free) recipes for you to try out!
Make a recipe book
When you’re browsing through blogs or reading magazines or cook-books, start compiling the recipes you want to try into a booklet or folder. Whenever you cook those recipes, write down your specific changes and tweaks to make it more enjoyable for you. Once you start accumulating a few great recipes that you feel confident cooking, you will enjoy the process much more. New recipes and having something to refer to keeps you feeling inspired and motivated to be in the kitchen.
Plan your week
Once you’ve chosen recipes for the week, try and plan ahead of schedule. Look at your week ahead and decide when you’ll go grocery shopping, what night’s you’ll cook, and when you might do some extra prep to ensure you always have healthy snacks on hand. For most people, they might choose to go to the shops or markets on a Saturday to buy groceries, and then allocate a few hours on Sunday preparing dinner, along with snacks and breakfast type items for the week. This might include making some raw balls, or a tray of nut and seed bars. It might mean baking a batch of healthy savoury muffins, or soaking your oats over night to prepare for your breakfasts for the next few days. Some people like to pre-pack their smoothie ingredients into little bags and keep in the freezer for when they wake up. Either way, the more organised you are, the less chance there is of you getting home starving and opting for take away instead of an easy nourishing meal.
Let go of the guilt
No one is perfect all of the time. So don’t go thinking you’re going to wake up tomorrow and all of a sudden be a green smoothie drinking, toxic free, organic loving, health-guru. A huge part of living a healthy lifestyle is to also have balance and to not be so hard on yourself. The physiological effect of stress on our digestive system can be mean that our bodies actually fail to absorb or assimilate many nutrients that we put into it regardless of how healthy they are. So don’t stress yourself out with all of this! Be fair to yourself and be as organised as you can… but don’t have a meltdown if a friend asks you out for a wine on Saturday night. You need to enjoy life too and in my opinion, if you’re really healthy and look after your body 80% of the time, you shouldn’t feel like it’s the end of the world every time you have a drink, or a bit of chocolate. It’s life, and that’s perfectly ok.