Often our busy lives and the choices we make do not support us mentally, physically or spiritually. When we rush around, work too much, have to manage a house and kids, and just can’t find enough hours in the day to get everything done, our diets and health are the first things to go. We shave time off dinner and give ourselves a few extra minutes by eating convenience packaged foods, stopping at the drive-through on the way home from work, and ordering take-out. But are those extra minutes worth our health and vitality? I think not. It’s time to make our food choices a top priority in our life. We are what we eat. The things you put in your mouth will either help or hurt your health. Here are a few tips on how to eat healthy, set up realistic goals for yourself, and nourish your mind, body, and spirit.
Make Healthy Eating a Priority
If you want to dip your toe into plant-based eating and want to feed you and your family healthful foods, you must first make it a priority. Make a sincere commitment to try your very best every day. If you fumble, don’t beat yourself up about it and try harder next time. Cooking and nourishing our bodies is fun and gives us more energy! Discover what you love about it and hold those thoughts in your mind when making food choices. If writing “To do” lists or posting notes around the house helps remind you of your commitment, go for it.
The Good, Better, Best Policy
Some say that moderation is the key, but I really don’t like that phrase or concept. If you say to yourself “everything in moderation”, then you aren’t setting a solid committable goal to get healthy and will more likely make poor choices. I teach my clients and students to use the “Good, Better, Best Policy”. When making a food choice ask yourself “Is this the best choice I can make?” If the answer is no, then see if you have access to the best choice possible. If you want a snack and you have a choice of carrot sticks, apple slices, trail mix, or potato chips the best choice would obviously be the fruit or vegetable. But if my only option were the latter two I would go with the trail mix. Do the best you can and be sure to keep your house stocked with the best choices, so you aren’t tempted to make a poor choice.
Focus on Whole Foods
If it has a label or comes in a box, it most likely is not a whole food. Whole foods are things like fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. If you plan your meals around these whole foods, you automatically will be eating healthier than if your diet consists of processed foods. On occasion I will eat things out of a package or can when times are rushed, but I make vegetables the focus of my plate. It’s easy and fast to steam or blanch some kale or make a quick leafy salad, so I make that half my plate. Then the other half consists of a whole grain like millet, brown rice, quinoa, barley, or red rice and a plant-based protein. You can’t go wrong if every meal has these three elements: whole grain, vegetable(s) and protein.
Plan Your Meals
Our lives are so busy these days that eating healthfully and cooking from scratch is often the first thing to go in our daily routine. If you do some careful planning and always have a stocked pantry, you are less likely to eat something not so good for you. Pick 2 days a week to do “batch” cooking where you cook a large pot of brown rice, a pot of beans, and pre-cut some veggies and store them in glass containers in the fridge. That way, when you come home from work you can easily throw together a quick meal. One pot of rice can be used to make sushi, a grain salad, a bean burger, breakfast porridge, and a rice pudding for dessert. Or make a veggie stir-fry served over rice. The possibilities are limitless if you keep the fridge and pantry well stocked.
Our lives, minds, bodies, and pantries are cluttered with all kinds of things. To live a healthy life we need to get rid of the things that are not serving our higher purpose. A great place to start is in the kitchen. Throw out the junk food, organize your pantries and spice rack, find homes for all your favorite kitchen gadgets and tools, and replace any old cookware that needs a makeover. Designate a spot with ample counter space, which I call the “prepping station”, where you have your cutting board, your chef knife, scraper, and small glass bowls. On the floor at this spot you can put an anti-fatigue mat that will make standing in one place more comfy. The prepping station will be your workspace area when you are preparing meals. Make it comfortable so you’ll want to be there working, chopping, and cooking every day.
Nourish Your Body and Mind
Did you know that stress weakens our immune system, making us more susceptible to disease and viruses? Stress could be the culprit to your migraine headaches, your anxiousness, or lack of sleep. You can eat well and build strong immunity, but sometimes eating healthy isn’t enough. Having a fitness plan is an important part of having a healthier lifestyle. You could also incorporate yoga, meditation, or tai chi, which help relax the body and mind. Take a few minutes each day to turn off the chatter in your mind. Light some candles and soak in a hot bath. Set aside time just for you to relax and zone out.