It’s so much easier than you think. I promise. There are only 3 simple concepts you need to even consider to eat well.
- Develop a plan that is doable.
- Have the right equipment.
- Prepare bulk portions
Develop a plan that is doable. Big changes are best done one step at a time. There is no need to go cold turkey with this process. If you are overwhelmed and not enjoying it, chances are, you will regress to old habits.
Begin by approaching this with the right mentality. You are not giving up anything. All your favorite foods can still be enjoyed. You’ll just be preparing them in different ways than you used to. And by that, I don’t mean different in a way that doesn’t taste as good or that leaves you hungry. On the contrary, the food you will eat will be the most flavorful food you’ve ever eaten. And I encourage everyone to eat when you are hungry rather than pushing through feelings of starvation.
You can still eat pizza and burritos and cheeseburgers or whatever your comfort food is. But, you will be eating them in a way that can be both enjoyed by your taste buds and your body as a whole.
You’re not giving anything up. You’re adding foods to your diet. You’re replacing certain ingredients. And it is ok to do this one step at a time. You can add one food at a time. You can replace one ingredient at a time. Take it at a pace that will work for you. This allows your taste buds to adapt to the different sources of flavors you’ll be eating.
If you’ve been eating a typical American diet, your taste buds are used to artificial flavors. For example, you may think you know what almonds taste like, but you’re actually used to the artificial flavor many companies add to their products to trick your body into thinking you’re eating almonds. These artificial flavors change how our taste buds respond to different foods. So, at first, you may need to time for your taste buds to recover. It won’t be long before real food will be bursting with flavor.
This is one reason why taking it slow is a good idea. As your taste buds “wake up,” you’ll find real food tasting more and more flavorful. In time, as you add more and more of the right kinds of foods to your diet, and your body begins to enjoy these new wonderful foods, the other stuff you shouldn’t be eating will just naturally disappear from your daily diet. When this happens, if you do choose to eat something from your old habits that you used to savor and relish, you may find yourself quite surprised. The food tastes odd. It isn’t satisfying anymore. It’s just weird. And any thought of wanting it in the future dissipates.
This process initially takes some discipline, but it needn’t be forced or miserable.
The last point for this section is to properly understand what I mean by eating well. Our culture is obsessed with counting calories or fats or carbs or whatever particular diet we’re trying out. I don’t know how many times I’ve mentioned to friends foods I’ve begun consuming such as green smoothies, fresh juice, whole grains or whatever the case may be and the response was, “Is this something you’re doing to do low fat to lose weight?” I can only respond with a sigh. We’ve come to this bizarre conclusion that health food = low calorie, low fat, and/or low carb and unhealthy food = high calorie, high fat, and/or high carb.
This is completely, absolutely, very, very WRONG. There are foods quite high in calories and fat that are excellent for your health. Of course, I’m not suggesting we can consume large bowls of these foods and be unaffected. But, when we are eating properly, our bodies won’t want the large bowls because it is getting what it needs from day to day.
Healthy food = food that nourishes your body well. It has fats that don’t contribute to inflammation and that do have what our bodies need to function. It has micronutrients and lots of vitamins and minerals. It has fiber. And many other things that contribute to optimal health. It lacks highly processed or concentrated ingredients that cause big sugar spikes and crashes, screwing up our metabolism. That is what healthy food is. It has nothing to do with calories, fat, or carbs.
Healthy food is also not about extracting a single ingredient from a food and concentrating it into a supplement so we can take massive amounts of it. It’s not about any particular single nutrient in a food. It’s the whole food itself. The whole food all together is what our bodies need and want.
I don’t care how many failed diets you’ve tried, you can do this. And it will work. You are not going a diet. You’re on a journey of nourishment and healing. And it will get better and better.
Start by adding a green smoothie each day. Or running some vegetables through the blender or food processor and cooking them into your food. Take it at a pace you can do well with. It won’t be too long before you realize the benefits and find yourself wanting more of the right foods and ignoring the wrong foods.
You’ve got this. You can do this. And you’ll never be the same.
Equipment. This will not be the same for everyone. It depends on what you make. But, I can describe what I have and how it has helped me to give you some ideas to think about.
I have a Kitchen Aid mixer. There are so many attachments to that thing that you can collect over time. Most of them aren’t as high quality as buying a separate machine designed specifically for that purpose, but the space saved by utilizing the attachments is worth it to me in most cases.
I have an awesome blender. Because I have a tubie that requires pureed food, I now have a vitamix. But, I used to have a Ninja Professional blender, and it performed very well for the tasks I needed it to do. And it made awesome smoothies.
I have a food processor. I can make my own peanut butter while watching TV. I can chop up vegetables into tiny pieces in 30 seconds and cook them into sauces…a great way to get lots of veggies in without ever even knowing they’re there.
I have a 7-in-one Instant Pot. This thing is my latest acquisition, and it is amazing. It’s a yogurt maker. You can saute right in the pot and then, add ingredients and change it to a crock pot or a pressure cooker with the press of a button. You can cook vegetables in minutes. And pressure cooking is great for retaining nutrients. It is a rice cooker. It steams. It makes porridge. It cooks grains. And it dirties one dish in the process. And that dish is dishwasher safe. It is a lazy person’s dream come true.
I have a juicer. A pretty nice one, actually. I juice vegetables daily and felt the difference in my body in less than 3 days. And I’m talking about a dramatic difference. Drinking a cup of green juice each day is a great way to increase your vegetable consumption.
I have an immersion blender. If you like creamy soup, this is a great item to have. When a soup has finished in the crock pot or pressure cooker, or even on the stove top, you can dip the immersion blender right in and blend it up to the consistency and texture you prefer. The alternative is waiting for it to cool and then, in portions, blend it in the blender. This is a messy and time consuming process. An immersion blender solves that.
I have a dishwasher. Yeah, I’m a crunchy mama with a dishwasher. And I’m fine with that. It is probably the one thing I would hang onto if I could only keep one item on this list. It saves so much time. My apartment doesn’t come with a dishwasher. I have an apartment dishwasher that I roll up to the sink, connect to the faucet and run. And I love it.
I have a chest freezer. Trust me, if I have room for a chest freezer, you do, too. It allows me to buy multiple items when they are on sale at the grocery store. It also allows me to cook in bulk and freeze what I’ve made into portions to eat later.
I can guess what one of your thoughts is. “I don’t have the money to buy all of that.” Probably not. At least not all at once. I didn’t go out and buy these things in a day. I bought them slowly over time. And they’ve been worth the investment. They save so much time. They make cooking fun and easy, which keeps eating well fun and easy.
Also, consider that purchasing these products will help you be more consistent with cooking your own food. It is cheaper to make your own food than to buy it from a restaurant or ready-to-eat from a store. Over time, these appliances will pay for themselves. Not to mention how much eating well can potentially save you in medical bills.
Prepare food in bulk. It generally takes just as much time to prepare a triple batch of a recipe as a single batch. So, plan ahead and get the most out of your time. When I make spaghetti, I make enough sauce for 3 pots of spaghetti. I use one portion and freeze the other 2. Then, when I want to make spaghetti again, I simply boil some noodles and thaw a portion of spaghetti sauce. It takes no more effort than if I’d bought it in a can. You can even make your own TV dinners. Freeze your food in meal sized portions. Spend an afternoon making a week’s or even a month’s worth of food. Then, good nourishing food will be available effortlessly, greatly decreasing the chance that you’ll find yourself at the drive-thru.
Plan a monthly get together with friends and cook together. You can have so much fun together while making food for yourselves and families. Make huge batches so everyone leaves with enough food for a month.
There are so many ways to incorporate healthful eating into our lives. With the right plan, making the switch can be easier than you ever would have thought. Let’s do this!