Have You Got The Time?

An extremely important component in learning about your individual health needs and getting to know how your mind and body works; is becoming your own healthcare advocate. You can read it here.

I’ve written about my thoughts on why it is so difficult to be and stay healthy. You can read it here. I’m expanding on each of the eight points I made, because I have a lot to say. What I write about, comes from my own personal experiences and observations. As individuals–our health–needs to be approached as such.

5. The amount of time it takes to prepare fresh food daily, is mind blowing. The daily routine becomes much longer, albeit a healthier one. You are standing and moving about while slicing and dicing, and not being a couch potato. I attempted this a while back, making huge salads (to last a few days), and preparing mostly vegetables for meals. It literally sucked up my days. I don’t enjoy cooking at the best of times–just ask my guy–but this was ridiculous. I ended up wanting to do anything else but prepare food. Honestly, when will ‘They’ come up with a pill, that covers all your nutritional needs and fills you up? I’m sure I would still have an occasional treat, and my green tea lattes, but I definitely am not a ‘live to eat’ girl. I am an ‘eat to live’ girl. On a positive note, the four days that I completely cut out sugar, white flour, white rice, anything processed, my energy level went through the roof. A hill that might have noticeably increased my breathing, had no effect at all. That lasted a good few weeks, even though I added back a few things to my diet. Why then, since I felt so divine, am I not continuing? Well, that is a good question, isn’t it?

Take some time to write down all your activities, and the time it takes to complete them. Include the hours you sleep, how long it takes you to dress in the morning, and be honest when it comes to how long you sit on the couch. There are 168 hours in one week. If you break it down, I guarantee that there will be some time that could be freed up to pursue healthier activities, like making a salad.

If accomplishments are to be made, then efficient use of time is important. There are many new advances that seem to suck up our time, ways of procrastinating until we are cramming to get something done. What is last on the agenda? Our health. Not for everyone, but for a lot of us. Who wants to be chopping vegetables for a salad when they could be playing their favorite game on the computer, or watching their favorite television show. It’s easier to ignore our troubled minds and our fat, out-of-shape bodies, when we can have some fun with just the tap of a finger.

I’ve said before how much I dislike cooking, partly emotional, built up over years, and the lack of excitement over food. I’m alone for a week and am using this time to re-introduce a routine, which includes making myself decent meals and snacks to eat. I kid you not, end of the second day, and I’m mulling over in my head, a plan to have nachos one night as a treat. What the heck do I need a treat for? Why does it have to be something so dripping in fat? (I make them with ground beef, jalapenos, and lots of cheese.) I must have been thinking about it for a good hour, until I had my broccoli and cauliflower in sesame ginger sauce. It was delicious, as always, and I was completed satiated with no more thoughts of ‘pigging out’.

Awareness has definitely given me insight that I choose not to ignore. Until I’d eaten, I couldn’t believe how my mind was working overtime. Yes, nachos are good, but would have been more trouble to make than my veggie dinner. Day three, so far so good. I have a plan for dinner and am determined to follow through.

Planning, planning, and more planning. For me, the planning is the fun part.

  • Sit down with your recipe books, a notepad, pencil, and some ideas on what your favourite foods are; chicken, beef, pasta, etc. Go over them in detail, look for lower fat, lower calorie, and generally ‘healthy’ meals. Almost any recipe can be adapted to fit your needs. Obviously you can google a ton of recipes as well.
  • When making your list, group the food items according to the grocery store aisles. Gather any coupons or fliers. Check out the sales and plan accordingly. Start with the coupons, google recipes with those particular items.
  • Check out the preparation and cooking times because if you’re like me, shorter is better. Some foods such as salads, there is no getting away from the washing and chopping, so increase the portions while you’re at it. I find cutting up a head of broccoli/ cauliflower and keeping it in a bowl seems to make it last longer, and it’s easy to grab a handful. Adding extra vegetables to any meal and cutting back on the sauces/ gravies is a great option to lower fat and calories.
  • If you feel overwhelmed at this point, ask a friend to help with the planning. Sometimes it’s simpler, for someone outside of your ‘mind’, to make the bigger decisions. Two can make it a lot more fun!
  • Get out your food processor (huge time-saver, and one of the best purchases I’ve made), to help with the chopping and grating. Grated salads taste better because all the flavours blend together and the texture makes for easy chewing. I put seeds and nuts in as well. Anything that has a tendency to go mushy, like cucumber or peppers, chop up and put in a separate bowl. Any veggies for a soup or stew can be whizzed through, and you will have uniform slices that will cook more evenly and be pleasing to the eye.
  • There is nothing wrong with leftovers. Choose three healthy meals for the week and double them up. Make enough to put some in the freezer for lunches or dinners.
  • If you are not feeling up to snuff for the week ahead, don’t buy a ton of fresh produce as it will end up rotting in your fridge. Been there, done that more times than I care to admit. Waste of food, waste of money. You can always take an extra trip to the store if you perk up.

The book that had me spending all my time washing and chopping was ‘Eat To Live’ by Joel Fuhrman. Love this book! There are a few recipes that having me shaking my head, just awful. Then there are a few recipes that are absolutely out of this world, delicious. Personal opinion. Eating this way is very healthy and really lacking in nothing. A lot of time is taken up with preparation, something I don’t have the patience for, and with the truckloads of produce, it was a little expensive. However, this eating style had me feeling my best ever.

Get your family/ significant other involved in the process. With all the ingredients needed for that large salad, do all the washing and chopping together on the weekend in preparation for the week. I just purchased the book ‘Mason Jar Salads and more’ by Julia Mirabella; wonderful, appetizing, and efficient plans for salads and other lunches to grab on your way out the door to work.

Check out this ingenious idea for organizing crock-pot meals: a whole month’s worth of meals via crock-pot freezer cooking. Maybe when my guy returns, we can get started on this.

Make a genuine effort to cook healthier meals and snacks. If you have kids, show some interest in the whole process and be a good role model for them. Get them involved (if they’ll let you). All this planning will leave you with much more free time to engage in all those mindless activities, only now, you won’t feel guilty.

Any other suggestions? Comments are welcomed and encouraged!

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