Healthy Eating Vs. Time
By Hollis Taylor
The biggest excuse for not eating well is TIME! I hear it over and over that people are lacking the time they need to cook, exercise and make good choices. I understand!
One of my biggest challenges was incorporating healthy eating into a very busy schedule. When I first began I had a child, volunteered in my community, ran my own business, and enjoyed occasionally doing something for myself! My schedule was packed solid but I knew I really needed to find a way, otherwise my schedule wouldn’t matter anymore. I had to make a variety of adjustments to my perspective and life in order to manage a healthier diet. I had to change my busy unhealthy life to a something manageable and healthy. What good are you to your commitments if your are NOT healthy? I know the challenges of being a parent, a wife, running a business, and full time employment….don’t forget being involved in your community or having fun!!
The very first thing I did was turn off cable TV. It immediately freed up more of my time and helped my child become more interested in household activities. With no TV he spent more time outside and I suddenly had more time to cook, relax, and follow my personal interests. I do have netflix but I still limit myself to only my favorite shows and now after 10 years I almost never sit to watch anything. TV is a waste of time. Although I am seen occasionally playing games I still limit my time. I like all of my time to be effective. My value system leads me to be grateful for every moment and therefore use it very wisely. I live a very active life these days but still make time for exercise, yoga, and cooking.
One thing I learned to do was batch cook. So on that Sunday afternoon that I want to lounge around in my pajamas and finally have a few hours of rest, I would prepare large batches of food. I would be creative because it made cooking fun. I would bring the family together to cook something and often it could easily be seen as quality family time. There is always something kids can do and teaching them to use a knife is often exciting for them. Learning to cook is a priceless skill. Then I would also use my tools. I would prepare it in the morning after my breakfast and put it into the crockpot. I have also done it the night before and simply plugged it in during my morning rush. I freeze leftovers. I leave just enough for a quick warm up but I know we will get tired of it after a couple of meals so I only leave out a little. The rest gets tucked away into the freezer, labeled and dated. Later you can pull them out when your in a hurry.
I also learned that grocery stores are typically just as fast as your local fast food joint. They are also readily available in just about anywhere and often carry very healthy food. I can easily put together an easy healthy meal in a grocery store. My favorites are hummus, vegis, fruits, cheese, yogurt, granola bars, healthy smoothies, and sometimes you can find some other alternatives easily accessible. I have seen a salad bar in grocery stores, which is obviously a fantastic choice. So when you are in a hurry and need convenient food try a grocery store. You will likely find yourself delightfully surprised at variety and healthy choices. Most grocery stores sell chilled water beverages and sometimes they even have other options available.
I have also learned about the most convenient healthy treat available, fruit. After eliminating sugar from my diet I missed having little sweet treats. I began to notice that I really enjoyed all sorts of fruit including apples, oranges, pineapple and berries. I enjoyed them most when they were in season and of course they are super healthy. I found that fruit tamed my sugar cravings enough, especially if I just at the fruit fresh. By the time I was done eating the apple or orange, assuming I had been off sugar for over 3 weeks, I had forgotten all about my sugar craving. The best part is that fruit is simply easy and convenient. I realize that pineapple can require some preparation but once you do it you can easily just store it in the fridge in a container and eat at it as your are ready. You can also purchase most fruit already prepared. But I like to keep oranges, apples, and bananas on hand. I can simply grab them and go. Fruit can hold off hunger pains for another half hour or more until you can sit down for a meal. Fruit is nature’s convenient food!
I also began to shift my activities and hobbies to something more active. I picked up gardening and the entire family joined in. I also made efforts to take the steps or walk from the back of the parking lot. I also began to make sure my child’s activities were exercise in some way such as camping, sports and skateboarding. I joined my son’s activities as I could. I picked up a fun family activity called Geocaching. I also began to do yoga from home, it was too much to get to a class. I noticed how I felt after exercise and began to make it mandatory part of my life, so I made time for my physical activity. It became priceless and would put me in a better place to get everything done in my very busy life.
The other adjustment I needed to make was tendency towards excessive busyness. As a child I wasn’t very busy but all the adults in my life were. When I first started to move my lifestyle to something more healthy I found that I had over committed myself. I was so busy I was having panic attacks because I often felt like I couldn’t keep up. I was constantly running from one thing to another. I had a school aged child and it was easy to over commit. I liked being busy it helped me forget all my problems. I had no time to think about my unhappy marriage or anything else that I was miserable about. When my therapist suggested that I might be over committing because of my lack of contentment with my life I had to really think about it. I began to adjust my commitments and made sure to keep them at a minimum. Today I love an active lifestyle but if I don’t have time to do my yoga and exercise than I know there is something wrong with my level of commitments. Its a slow adjustment but there are times that I find myself over committed and I must ask what I am avoiding.
Living a healthy lifestyle is not just about eating, although that’s a big part of it. I found that over time the harder I worked at eating well and exercising, I would be more compelled to do other healthy activities. The healthier I was the more I wanted. I love how I feel in my now healthy lifestyle and I know that every struggle I ever made in the past 10 years has been completely worth it. Today I am grateful when I have time for exercise, yoga and healthy meals. I am grateful for down time although at times I am not sure what to do with it. Change is the only constant!