The best results are achieved by using the right amount of effort in the right place at the right time. And this right amount is usually less than we think we need. –Michael Gelb
Overcoming the mental objections to eating healthier is the single most important, yet most often neglected aspect of making lasting dietary changes. For this reason, I’d like to share some thoughts on the two most frequently voiced objections I hear to eating for health, the first of which is: “It takes too much time to plan ahead and prepare healthy foods.”
If you find this thought running through your mind, consider the fact that healthier food choices often take less time than many unhealthy food choices. Having a piece of fruit or baby carrots and hummus, rather than toasting a bagel with cream cheese would be a good example. The same is often true when it comes to preparing meals. For example, it takes the same amount of time to stay some fresh vegetables as it does to pop a ready-made frozen entree in the microwave and wait for it to cook. They both take an average of between 5-10 minutes.
Consider too, that the challenge is often not about having the actual time involved that is the issue, but rather having the energy needed to prepare healthier foods. People, those with families especially, are frequently exhausted by the end of the day and just don’t have the mental or physical energy to prepare meals from scratch.
This becomes a Catch-22 situation however, as the convenient fake foods people usually resort to instead, are so devoid of nutritional value and laced with toxic additives that they cause a lack of energy and productivity. This can become a vicious cycle that’s challenging to break.
Push through the initial transition period and expend the time and energy necessary to get yourself consistently eating energy-boosting, health-promoting foods and you’ll eventually regain your energy. The length of time it takes will depend on the individual and also to what degree you’re actually eating for health.
Time Saving Strategies
To help with logistics, think about ways you can multi-task by combining food preparation and cooking with other activities such as listening to inspirational CD’s or catching up on long-distance phone calls or the evening news. And don’t forget about engaging the help of other family members which can be invaluable, not to mention a great way to spend quality time with loved ones, especially children.
Having children assist in the kitchen helps them develop cooking and food preparation skills that will serve them for a lifetime. One of the primary reasons many people, especially young adults, aren’t eating as well as they could be today is because they never learned how to prepare and cook fresh foods. Reducing your time in the kitchen and teaching them essential life skills for proper self care and the care of future offspring, is a win-win. It may require some initial time and patience for training, but the rewards are well worth the investment.
The more you start taking the time to eat healthier foods regularly, the lets time consuming and easier it becomes. Think of those things that we’re obligated to do as part of being in a human body that just become routine. Most people wouldn’t think of going off to work without taking a shower, brushing their teeth, dressing, shaving, putting on makeup, etc. However, many of these same people complain that they don’t have time to eat breakfast or pack a wholesome lunch.
Can you imagine walking into work naked and stubbly, with bad breath and body odor on a regular basis claiming you don’t have time to get ready? It would never happen.
Sure there are days when you leave the stubble, lose the eyeliner, and throw on a baseball cap because you really didn’t have the time or are taking a day off from the routing. But for the most part, you make the time to take care of these necessities for your benefit and the benefit of others. These hygienic rituals have become ingrained routines that you automatically schedule in without giving them a second thought. It’s just what you do. The same kind of automatic routines for healthy eating can be established as well.
Initially you’ll have to go through a short transition period. However, once you’ve trained yourself to make the time and create routines around regularly eating healthier, you’ll find that eventually it will become as routine as taking a shower and brushing your teeth every morning. Eventually you won’t give it a second thought.
In fact, much like the days when you miss your morning shower, start feeling a little grungy and can’t wait to take one, as you start to experience the many benefits of healthier eating – looking better, feeling better, having more energy, and mental clarity – you’ll find that you miss your healthier eating routines when you aren’t able to follow them and can’t wait to get back to them.
All in all, any time devoted to the preparation, cooking and enjoying of whole, fresh, natural foods is time well spent that serves you in all areas of your life.
Kelly Hayford, C.N.C., is the award-winning author of If It’s Not Food Don’t Eat It! As a former chiropractic assistant and junk-food junkie turned nutrition and health coach, Kelly has helped thousands restore their health, energy, and natural weight.