As I said last week when we talked about moving our body more, these are big topics in this section of the challenge and I can only get your started with a push and attention drawn to the subject. If these topics are areas you need major adjustments in, start with one thing this week and build on the changes as you go. Decide what your ultimate goals are in relation to health and wellness and plot your course to get there.
This week we are talking about food! Some people focus on food simply as fuel for their body. Others look at food as a hobby (cooking and baking etc), a source of pleasure, a social activity or a chore (either they struggle to eat regular meals or they just hate preparing food). Whatever your story or approach is will determine what you want to change or simplify. Start from where you are now.
Some ways to simplify in the area of food
- Consider adding in meal planning to your routines if you never know what to make, struggle to have ingredients on hand, find cooking a chore, feel stressed about feeding your family.
- I covered everything about meal planning in this series of posts. there is no one way to do this so don’t write it off without carefully considering it – even if you hate planning and want flexibility in your meals.
- If you want some planning sheets or create something crafty to make it more fun check out this round up of meal planning resources.
- If your issue with food is either mindless eating or over-consumption consider using a food diary to track what you eat. This does not even have to include calorie counting etc (unless you want to) – the simple act of pausing to write it down can connect you with your food and the issue of “do I want to have to write down 6 cookies” might act as a deterrent to unhealthy eating habits if you are working to change those.
A well- stocked pantry
- Another reason some people don’t eat well is lack of food on hand. This often leads to take away meals or convenience foods or simply grabbing what is handy in the house (which could mean cereal for dinner all week). Keeping a pantry stocked with basics plus foods you regularly use can ensure you can whip up simple meals no matter what.
- Track what needs replacing with a simple notepad on your fridge so your shopping list almost writes itself. As you prepare your favourite pasta sauce and realise you just took the last 2 tins of tomatoes, add them to the list!
- If you need some help organising your pantry check out this video tour of my own pantry
Cook in bulk and stock your freezer
- Instead of buying ready made meals at a higher price (and usually less healthy or satisfying) you can simply double whatever you cook that freezes well and put one in the freezer for a night you don’t want to cook or are too busy.
Strategies for good eating as both fuel and pleasure.
Listen to your body and what will work for you.
- What foods increase your energy and vitality?
- Which ones affect you badly? ( for me it is sugar and dairy)
- Don’t follow trends – so many people are currently following restrictive diets and going gluten free, sugar free, no carb, low carb etc without considering what goes on in their body. While many people need to follow restrictive diets due to allergies, sensitivities or illnesses, many other people are simply seeking to replicate others results. In most cases eating as naturally as possible (without driving yourself crazy in my opinion) will see results so do what makes sense for you. If it is not something you can maintain happily forever perhaps it is not the right path for you.
- If taking something out what are you replacing it with that will satisfy you (and/or nutritional needs). Also what is being replaced in commercial food. You may have noticed that when manufacturers take out fat they often replace it with sugar to make it taste good. If you don’t eat certain foods are you getting the vitamins elsewhere, are you consuming enough calories, do you feel satisfied and full or do you find yourself seeking other foods – what are you craving?
Eliminate or reduce your unhealthy food habits
- Remember if we eliminate something we need to think about what we will replace them with. So if you usually eat junk food meals a few nights a week and want to get that down to one takeaway meal – what are you going to prepare instead? As virtuous as a salad is, I doubt it will be a good replacement for a fried fish dinner that is your usual Saturday tradition so maybe you would explore recipes and find a great seafood recipe, or even set out on a mission to make Saturday seafood nights where you try new healthy seafood recipes each Saturday.
- You can create a “to try” recipe stash or binder to find new recipes for any type of food you are looking to cook more of… You can often find recipes online where people have taken your favourite foods and made them healthier.
Have healthy snacks on hand
- Either cook or buy foods you want to eat more of for snacks
- Clear out your home of foods you want to eliminate (although most of us can manage with moderation you might have foods you really don’t want to eat but keep in your house for others) – get rid of it or put it away somewhere – I keep special chocolate in our spare fridge for my husband since sugar and dairy are my two areas of struggle since I love them but they don’t love me.
- Plan out your snacks and prep what you can – chop veggies, make a fruit salad, bag up individual portions of your snacks.
Challenge this week: The ways you choose to simplify food will depend on your starting point so set yourself a goal (s) and pick one step to take starting this week (does not have to be anything I mentioned). Once you get started you can build momentum and move along towards your goal. You might start with getting your kitchen and food situation organised first, then when that is completed find new recipes or meal plan. You might want to simply get more variety in your diet and organise your recipes and/or meal plan. maybe you need to cut down on red meat and want to start a meatless Monday in your home. Come up with one thing and start today. Create a plan for yourself to move forward long after this block of challenges finishes – how will you build on this one change?
We will have a guest post on Wednesday- Justine from Full Belly Sisters will talk about healthy eating simplified – 5 changes you can make to eat healthier. It is not as hard as we may think to make some changes to our diet. Remember to start small and move consistently in the direction you want.
Find your simple,
Link up your simplify your life posts here (and try to visit the other participants in this community):
Image credit: Flickr user Steven Depolo