Is Planning the Key to Smashing your Health Goals?
Hollie (aka, insta-famous: @powered_by_vegies) shares some ideas on how to plan your meals, shift your mindset to achieve your best most healthy self!
The first thing that I know for sure is that we are all living busy lives, full of responsibilities and to-do-lists as long as our arms. Unfortunately, habits can be much easier to make than break, like having a cup of tea and a sneaky biscuit, it’s only one right? If we continue to repeat behaviours for long enough we create worn in pathways in our brains, which can be hard to rewire.
So how long does it take to break a habit? 21 days? Well contrary to popular belief it is different for everyone depending on your experiences and personality. The best thing to do is try to form a new parallel pattern i.e. when you are feeling peckish at 3pm and usually reach for sweets or salty snacks, drink a green smoothie or eat some crunchy vegie sticks. Or if you feel stressed and this usually triggers a craving to devour a tub of ice cream, put some head phones in and go for a walk 1.
“Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a most challenging problem. While it appears that it should be easy, it is a path laden with obstacles.”2 Think about how hard it is to eat healthy when your cupboard is full of chips, lollies and chocolate.
This brings me to my “go to” advice for anyone wanting to transition to a healthier diet. I know that we all think that multi-tasking is effective, but when it comes to eating healthy it is best to make a plan and take one simple step at a time.
Step 1: Out with old and in with the new.
I want you to set some time aside to clean out your cupboard, refrigerator and freezer. Get some boxes and a bin ready. I don’t want to tell you exactly what to throw out as that will depend on you and your family’s needs. Processed junk (i.e. chips, sauces with lists of ingredients longer than War and Peace) is a good place to start.
Place all of the food that will no longer assist you in achieving your goals that is still within the best before date in one box. I recommend giving this to your local homeless shelter as it will not only make their day but assist with the feelings of guilt associated with throwing away food. Then go through all items that may be past their best before date and get rid of them.
Step 2: It’s time to renew and refresh your cupboard, refrigerator and freezer
I like to stock my cupboard according to what I will need. This means checking your recipe books and making a list of the herbs and spices that will be regularly used. I have a few go to books that are simple, healthy and very family friendly (like Deliciously Ella and Vegie Head).
Staples in any healthy pantry:
Legumes (I like to buy in bulk, cook and freeze in bags that are ready to go) but you can also use cans if you are time poor. Did you know: Beans can help us live longer, control our blood sugar, and help prevent and treat diabetes3. Remember that variety is key, try chickpeas, red kidney beans, lentils, adzuki beans and black beans just to name a few.
Herbs and spices are also a must to enhance the flavour of any dish. My favourites are: turmeric, cumin, coriander, oregano and chilli.
Your fridge should be stocked with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Buy from your list to avoid wastage (more about this later).
Don’t forget to make the most out of your freezer! When fruit and vegies are on sale I buy up big and freeze in portion sizes. I always have frozen bananas to make banana “nice cream” and frozen fruit is perfect to make healthy desserts and smoothies.
However, if you are like my mum and just get home, open the fridge and create healthy food without recipes or lists, it is essential that your fridge, pantry and freezer are stocked with a rainbow of fresh produce that will inspire you to get creative and eat healthily.
Step 3: Make a plan and stick to it!
I spend a little time each week with a cup of coffee and my recipe books all laid out on the dining room table. I flick through the books for inspiration and ideas of what I will cook for the week to come.
Write down what you would like to cook for the week and the ingredients that you need for these recipes and healthy snacks in between. It’s important that you take this list to the grocery store or farmers market to stock up for the week. Try not to make impulse buys. If it is not on the list do you really need it? Do not…. I repeat DO NOT… go the grocery shop hungry…… this has led to me over buying and… let’s face it… making some less than desirable decisions.
If you have a partner or children you can get them involved in picking meals from the books and helping you buy the fresh produce that you need. Write the meal plans down in a family scrap book and it can become your healthy food family favourites. Give kids the list and highlighter and then make it a challenge to buy all the things on your list as fast as possible. If you deviate, tell them that you owe them 5 push ups and they can stand and count them out. I recommend doing this at home as you might get some funny looks.
These are just some of the simple things that I do to ensure that the environment in which I live is always stocked with food that helps me achieve my goals. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a treat every now and then but if you don’t have it… you won’t eat it.
My last tip for people aiming to make healthier choices is to take your own food and snacks to work. This can be prepared the night before to avoid all those greasy takeaway lunches which are usually full of salt, sugar and fat. If you normally buy your lunch at work, put the money aside and treat yourself with something at the end of the month, like that nice active wear you have had your eye on.
Work options: It’s really simple to prepare some homemade lentil burgers or roast a big batch of vegies for the week. Just add some whole grain bread, brown rice and a simple dressing and you will save money, time and be smashing those healthy goals.
1. Layton, J. (2009) “Is it true that if you do anything for three weeks it will become a habit?” HowStuffWorks.com. July, 29th. Retrieved from http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/form-a-habit.htm 28 February 2016
2. Lisle, D., & Goldhamer, A. (n.d.) How to escape The Pleasure Trap! Dr Fuhrman. Retrieved from https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/article16.asp
3. Greger, M. (2014) Beans, Beans, They’re Good For Your Heart. NutritionFacts.org. August, 29th 2014. Retrieved from http://nutritionfacts.org/video/beans-beans-theyre-good-for-your-heart/
I am a healthy living advocate and lover of life.
I am a health and nutrition coach, fitness instructor and self-taught cook.
My aim is to empower people to build positive relationships with health promoting plant foods, to nourish your body not only with good food but with an active lifestyle and exercise.