Skip Fast Food: Eating Healthy When You Don’t Have Time
Time seems to be one of the biggest barriers to healthy eating. This is especially true for millennials, like myself. We’re constantly on the go, holding down a 9-5, in addition to our own businesses, ministry obligations, school, and let’s not forget relationships, marriage, and kids for those of us that are already doing the family thing. I’m sure with all that’s on our plates, many of us have to find the time to eat, least on create a healthy meal at home. The promise of fast food is that it saves us time, the one thing we never have enough of; but let’s be honest, with Atlanta traffic and the lines at Chick-fil- A and Chipotle (which I love in moderation), fast food doesn’t seem to deliver much on its promise. Then there are the health implications, the empty calories, obesity, heart disease, and the stand in appointment we make with the toilet bowl as a trade off for this convenience. With a little preparation, creativity, and self-management, I believe we can limit the amount of fast food we consume, save ourselves some money, and continue successfully on our paths to total health and wellness.
Preparation is key! It’s like getting dressed for an important event. You don’t wait until a few minutes before you need to leave to figure out what to wear. You might consider beforehand what you have in your closet, what needs cleaning, possibly ironing at night, you might even check the weather. For a busy person, preparation means thinking about your schedule AND FOOD in advance. Foresight allows you to prepare meals ahead of time that will fit your schedule. If you work late and hate coming home to cook, choose one day (or two), say Sunday (and Wednesday), as your meal prep and shopping day. Prepare your dinner meals for the week (or the next 2 days). Cook them fully or do things that will limit cooking time; for instance, thaw and season your meat, slice your veggies, cook your grains. To maximize time in the morning, I cook oatmeal and boil eggs in advance because looking ahead, I know I will eat oatmeal and a boiled egg throughout my week. I bring lunch to work everyday (I wake up early or prepare the night before) and only buy lunch occasionally to share experiences with co-workers. I even bring a sandwich, fruit, and a snack with me for lunch on weekends, unless I plan and budget to eat out with friends. I grew up with a single mom so I’ve learned the importance of preparing meals to take on the go to prevent spending money on food while you’re out. So grab some storage containers and zip lock bags and you’ll be good to go!
Get creative! Refurbish your meals. Don’t be afraid to use left overs or use a portion of one meal as an ingredient for the next. I like to challenge myself to limit the amount of food that goes to waste in my fridge (not buying too much or making use of what I have before I head to the store again). If I buy it, I better eat it, freeze it, or give it away! So i’ll toss something creative together in a minute. This past week, I bought too many sweet potatoes. I’ve sliced and added them to a salad, baked and topped them with collards and turkey, and next week, I may may mash one. Its a healthy carb and it gives me a chance to create different things. A great tool to help with creative meals in the fall and winter is purchasing a slow cooker ($20-$30) and using your left over ingredients to make soups (start your meal before heading to work, come home, and its done). I made a delicious 10 bean soup last week just by adding some of my leftover veggies and meats that were just sitting in my fridge (not too long). Everyone wants to be creative these days, so why not start with your food.
Invest Time! The thing about time is that it’s always the same everyday. You only get 24 hrs. We can do our best to wisely use the time we are given each day, but the rest is really self- management. Caring for yourself in a balanced way is one of the best ways to invest time. Preparation and creativity can help you eat the healthy meals your body deserves, which studies show tend to be the ones you prepare at home because you are more aware of what’s going into your food and the portion sizes tend to be smaller. Your health is a priority! If you can’t make time to eat a balanced meal, get at 30 minutes of exercise (start with 1 day a week), spend time with God, get some rest, and read a good book, then its possible you have your priorities mixed up or you may have too many priorities (which means you have no priorities at all). Invest time in your health, that’s your physical, spiritual, and mental health. Eating healthier meals is a great start! I believe in you. You can do it. Cultivate