Friends, to start out, let’s say the word JOURNEY out loud. Let that be freeing in itself. It’s a process, a quest, and it takes time. You might not fully arrive for years- and that’s OK. We’re talking about health here, so it’s worth the time and effort that it will require. Gandhi said “it is health that is real wealth, and not pieces of gold or silver.” Let’s take Gandhi’s advice and place value on walking out this path to healthy living. I’ve got some truths, revelation, and personal stories that will hopefully encourage you and be a breath of fresh air for this healthy eating journey!
1. Stop Comparing Your Healthy Eating Journey
This will set you free. Apply it to all areas of your life. Go ahead- I’ll wait.
Talking with friends about food, recipes, supplements, and homemade hippie recipes is seriously so enlightening. I have learned so much from my friends and readers who are at varying stages of this journey. However, comparison is a little jerk that has no issue showing up to a party uninvited.
I’m five+ years and a nutrition coaching certification into my healthy eating journey. When people ask me what I eat or why I gave something up I always get responses like “We can’t eat that now, too!? I quit.” or “I could never live without ________ (insert food addiction here).” Instead of comparing the beginning of your journey to someone else’s veteran status and choices, write down or make a mental note of what they said, and then file it into your “I’ll get to this when I’m ready” file. Please do not think I gave up pasta and sweets overnight. Believe me, I used to buy apple pie and ice cream and Kyle and I would eat it while watching The Biggest Loser every week. And your friend didn’t become a spokeswoman for kale in a day. We are at varying stages of this lifelong journey, and that’s OK. Accept that now and you’ll be freed up to walk out your journey without feeling like you don’t measure up.
Consider people being farther along on their journey as a gift to you. You can pick their brains and ask them what you should tackle next. And chances are they have a wonderful arsenal of healthy recipes.
2. Take It Step By Step
Not only is this an amazing NKOTB song, but it’s how I approach everything in the health and fitness world. People who focus on developing one habit at a time are 80+% more likely to stick with it. I feel stressed when people speak of an overhaul of their entire diet. It can definitely work for some, but most of need a step by step approach to be successful.
Pick one thing in your diet or life that could be improved upon.
Focus on it.
Tell a friend.
Track your progress.
Write down strategies to help you be successful.
When you think you’ve gotten this habit down, move on to the next one.
The Fit Tutor’s Nutrition Course is set up this way. By mastering one habit at a time, it takes the stress and confusion out of healthy eating. I believe in detoxing the same way. If you want to expose you and your family to less chemicals, pick one area and work on it. When you’ve gotten it down, move on. Overhauling everything is so tempting- but also so overwhelming. We’re trying to create a lifestyle here, not another failure. Check out my Detox Your Life in a Year series if you’re trying to decrease your chemical exposure!
3. Simplify. For the Love of God, Simplify.
This one has several parts, so buckle your seatbelt!
Simplify Your Meals
We are not all blessed like some of the amazing bloggers on Pinterest. Many of us do not have the time or skillset to craft up such delectable, instagram-worthy, gluten-free, low-carb, paleo, whole 30 approved, non-GMO, organic meals. For many of them it is their job, and we forget that. See previous section on comparison.
I love being creative in the kitchen, and I believe learning how to cook is an essential skill. But some weeks it’s just not feasible. Friend, I release you from the pressure to compete and put out a beautiful, new, fancy, healthy dinner each night. I believe this is an appropriate place to insert “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
It’s OK to cook boring, simple meals. Boring can still be flavorful. Cooking healthy shouldn’t be a big source of stress. It’s OK to have a rotation of easy, healthy meals. I know a picky palate or family member can make simplifying tricky, but I know you can find a way. If you don’t mind leftovers, cook a meal to last for a few days. Kyle and I cook enough burrito bowls on Sunday nights to last us through Tuesday lunch. Take that, Manic Mondays. I like to try one new recipe a week, but the rest are go-to simple, healthy meals. Chilis, soups, tacos, baked chicken and veggies… Stop overcomplicating dinner. Your family will live if you create a rotation of healthy meals and they repeat every few weeks. Side note: this does not decrease your awesomeness in any way.
Make Only One Meal
Forgive me that I say this as a possible future parent, instead of a current one. Hear me out, though.
When I was growing up, my mom cooked one meal. We ate it, like it or not. Cooking wasn’t a big stressor or event. We didn’t eat the healthiest then, but that was back when very few people were asking if that cow was fed with grain or counting how many pesticides were sprayed on their wheat. We had a rotation of meals which included spaghetti every Friday. My brother’s favorite, my least. It didn’t matter- only one meal was served. Good news! We turned out OK.
If you have an unbelievably picky eater at your table, work to find an easy alternative. Remember, we’re simplifying: they do not need you to cook them a separate meal. If your picky eater is old enough to cook, teach them how. If they don’t eat what you make, they can make their own- within your healthy eating parameters. Remember, as parents you are in a leadership role, and if you decide the family is going to eat better for the sake of health, then the kids are on board- like it or not. Their preferences shouldn’t determine the health of the family. With 1 in 3 kids overweight or obese, you’re doing them a favor. Be freed to lead your family on this journey to health, and ease your stress by only having to worry about cooking one meal per night. It will all work out.
Divvy Up Responsibilities
Speaking of someone being old enough… Teach any capable person in the house how to cook and how to eat for health’s sake. Roommates, spouses, kids, freeloaders- whoever. Learning how to cook and how to eat healthily is an invaluable skill. Forcing brussel sprouts down your kids’ throats with no explanation or instruction doesn’t prepare them for buffets in the university cafeteria. Instruct them. If you don’t know how, rest assured. That’s why God created Youtube. (and for cat videos, of course).
This knowledge will help keep them from being among the 1 in 3 young adults who have Pre-diabetes. And it also helps lighten your load now. Busy night? Late work meeting? Someone can start dinner or help you chop veggies and speed up the process. Being an adult and parent doesn’t mean you do everything. You are empowered to teach, delegate, and equip- for their sake and your sanity.
4. Order Groceries Online
Friends, it’s a great time to be alive! If you live in an area that offers this service, try it! Two of our local grocers offer this with a $4.95 fee- which is totally worth it to be able to control how much I spend. Both the hubs and I are crazy impulse buyers and must be stopped. My forgetfulness and frustration with crowds often makes me leave the store without everything I need- online grocery shopping saves the day. There’s also the awesome bonus of being able to google the brands and ingredients so you actually know if what you’re buying is healthy- which is much harder to do while standing in the aisle with the product in hand.
I make my weekly meal plan, order everything via website or app, and pick it up at the scheduled time. I still run to the store if we run out of something or better yet have a party to go to, so there’s still good ol’ human interaction. If you’re single, don’t dismiss the high probability of finding your soulmate reaching for the last organic celery bunch. The grocery store is such a great place to do random acts of kindness, so don’t completely avoid it. However, my weekly shopping must be done online to save me time and money, and ensure we eat healthy! Try it!
If you don’t have a store that offers it you can always try a meal delivery service or Amazon Fresh. Here are some to look into:
- Blue Apron (antibiotic and hormone-free meat)
- Green Chef (organic, many dietary meal plan options)
- Hello Fresh (as far as I can tell their chicken is antibiotic and hormone-free)
- Dine Wise
- Bistro MD (this one’s not really for families, but was worth including. rBST-free Beef)
- Fresh N Lean (vegan)
- Metabolic Meals (not for families, but including it because they offer organic food!)
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but feel free to mention any you’ve tried in the comments! You could also do a CSA delivery box or check out The Green Polka Dot Box, which is sort of like an online, healthy warehouse store. There are a lot more organic options that are specific to certain big cities. You’re not exactly lowering your carbon foot print by using a delivery service, so use only as needed.
5. Enlist Help
I love healthy eating and fitness so much I made it my life! But you might think it’s a drag, or something you don’t have time for. Don’t reinvent the wheel; enlist someone who already has done the research.
Even if you can’t or don’t want to afford a personal trainer or nutrition coach, pay for a session to ask them questions and get some direction and sound advice. Paying for their time is worth it. They deserve it, so quit asking your friends for tons of free advice. And it’s an investment for you- you are much more likely to put their wisdom into practice if it cost you something.
My passion is to make healthy eating and exercise doable for everyone. My Nutrition Course teaches you how to eat right, one healthy habit at a time. My at-home workouts teach you how to exercise and fit workouts into your busy schedule. If your journey to health seems overwhelming or something you don’t have the time or energy to research, enlist help. Check out The Fit Tutor, or contact a local trainer or coach. Most of us just want to help simplify this part of your life so you can soar in what you are good at and made to do!
What is something you struggle with, or what’s something on this list you think is crucial to the journey? Share in the comments! :)