My New Year’s resolution was to eat better. (I know. I pride myself on my originality.) I suppose I’m fortunate in that my problem wasn’t a love of super sized McDonald’s meals or an addiction to Krispy Kreme donuts. My problem was time.
Now, before I go any further, I need to emphasize strongly that this is not a blog telling you how to lose weight. I deal with that confusion frequently with just the name of my website, (“oooo The Time Diet! Is she going to tell me how I can take inches off my waist by looking at a clock more?) and I recognize that writing a blog about an actual diet might only add to that confusion. So I just need to trust you, dear reader, that if at any point in the following paragraphs you start to think “hm, did Emily start writing a healthy eating blog instead of a time management one?” you will stop yourself and say “No. Bad self. If Emily ever started a healthy eating blog that would mean she’d probably have to give up her frequent consumption of cheese and ice cream and we all know that ain’t gonna happen.”
Now, where was I…
My problem with eating was the same that many people face- I didn’t carve out any time to think about it. On Sundays, I meal plan healthy dinners for my family that I can make quickly after a day of work. I get healthy lunch makings for the kids so they can have lovingly prepared, well balanced meals that they refuse to eat at school. But I never plan for ME.
When I caught myself running out the door one morning with a rolled up tortilla for breakfast and 5 frozen chicken nuggets in a baggie for lunch I had to stop myself. Nothing makes you take a hard look at your life quite like 5 frozen chicken nuggets sitting in your purse.
I realized at that moment that my bad eating habits didn’t have anything to do with “not eating enough fruits and veggies” and everything to do with “not making time to PLAN my fruits and veggies.” I knew I needed a change.
After researching a few different healthy eating plans, I settled on Whole30. If you’ve never heard of Whole30, it’s basically an eating challenge where you eat nothing delicious for 30 days and try not to cry. (Technically, it’s no dairy, no added sugar, no alcohol, no grains, nothing processed, and a whole bunch of other rules you can read about on the Whole30 Website)
I like that there were rules. I do well with rules. I liked that it was a defined time period, not a life long commitment. I can do anything if it’s only for 30 days, I’m quite sure. I also liked their “stop complaining and eat the damn carrot” attitude they have on their website. It’s sassy. I like sassy people.
Healthy Eating Takes Planning
After 2 hours of being on Whole 30, I realized just how little time I had put into planning what food I was going to put in my mouth. With all of these rules in place, it’s impossible not to plan. When I walked into the grocery store, I had to know what I was going to eat, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next 7 days. I also found, surprisingly, that the prep and planning didn’t take as much time as I thought it would. Here are some things I did to cut down on time:
1.Use cookbooks and recipe cards
This might sound obvious, but it seems that half the stress and time of planning involves remembering what types of things you have available to eat. With a cookbook, I can easily flip through the pages and say “do I want this one or this one? This one or this one?” I also wrote down on a piece of paper 10 things I enjoy eating for lunch or breakfast so when I’m planning and shopping I can say “I want to eat this, this, and this for the week. Done.” I know it sounds like such a simple and obvious thing, but storing that information on paper rather than in my brain took far less time and freed up a lot of “hard drive” space for other things.
2.Get better food storage containers
Again, this may sound trivial, but it really helped. A huge part of success was prepping/chopping a lot of things during the weekend to have during the week. For example, cutting up a bunch of red pepper to throw on salads, boiling a bunch of eggs to eat as snacks, etc. Literally every food blog ever says to do this, but I never really did, in part because I didn’t have anywhere to put them. My old Tupperware collection was a travesty to kitchens everywhere. Nothing matched, no lids fit, etc.
Prepping became so much easier, faster, and more satisfying when I got a new set of storage containers. Everything was the size I wanted. Everything had a lid. Everything fit nicely in the fridge. None had someone else’s name from 3 lifetimes ago Sharpie-d on the bottom.
3.Have a plan for every item
My old approach to eating was “well, if I have healthy stuff in the house, I’ll be sure to eat it.” I didn’t make time to meal plan, ended up at the grocery store with only a vague idea of what I wanted to eat, threw a bunch of stuff that looked kind of healthy in my cart…and ended the week with a bunch of rotting fruit, and 5 receipts from Chipotle.
A HUGE thing that helped me with this was Fry’s ClickList. If you’re unfamiliar with ClickList, it’s a service that lets you order your groceries online, and pick them up at a time of your choosing at participating Fry’s Grocery. It is certainly not the only service like this, and I’m sure other ones are good too. This finally helped me make time to plan because I literally do my grocery shopping in my pajamas on Saturday nights (I’m real fun at parties, can’t you tell?)
I’ve been done with Whole30 for a few months now, and I’m happy to say that a lot of the good habits have stuck. Not all of them. I still have to snap myself back into shape sometimes, but overall, I find myself purposefully making time to think about what I’m going to eat, which was the whole point of all of this. My big take away was that healthy eating doesn’t just…..happen. It’s a thing that takes time, just like any other important thing in your life takes time, but being efficient about it, and making it a habit, helps make it easier.
Like the blog? You’ll love the book! Check out The Time Diet: Digestible Time Management and The Time Diet: Time Management for College Survival on Amazon. Do it. Do it now.