Our ancient (and even not so ancient) ancestors spent a lot of time preparing and sourcing food for meals, but for some reason in the 21st century the general consensus is that food is something to be hastily brought, hastily prepared, and hastily eaten. The easier it is to access, and the quicker it is to prepare, the better. And if we can somehow consume it on the run - well, that’s the perfect trifecta right there!
Yes - we’re all busy people - but why do we feel like meal times should require so little effort from us? After all, our food is our fuel. If we do it right - it’s what keeps us alive, provides us nourishment, helps fight off disease, and ensures that the complex masterpiece that is our body functions at it’s best.
BUT - if we do it wrong it could just be the greatest disservice we could do ourselves. Disease may come on so slowly that we don’t even realise that food is to blame. Processed food is sneaky like that. For some it makes sure that the damage happens so slowly that by the time you are ill there is no way you will blame it, or have the willpower to remove it, as a lifetime of bad habits are now entrenched.
But at the end of the day, I’m a realist. While I would love for everyone to savour mealtimes and choosing food for ourselves and our families (plus have plenty of time to spend preparing it), life gets in the way. I, as much as any of you, know that!
So I’m here to tell you that yes, eating well definitely requires a bit more advance planning, but it doesn’t have to be as difficult, or as expensive, or even as time consuming, as we often think.
Here are some tips to help you on your way!:
* Once a week, do a big cook up - it’s much more economical on your time to cook several meals at once, and by doing so you take the stress and planning out of the next few days, and can ensure you have healthy food at your disposal, just ready and waiting to be heated up. If you can’t do a big cook up once a week - try cooking an extra meal when you prepare dinner - one for tonight, and one for tomorrow’s lunch, or for the next night’s meal.
* Plan, plan, plan. Planning for most people is fairly important when it comes to eating well. I’m not great at planning my whole week’s meals in advance, but I will normally plan the next couple of days, and always make sure that I have healthy food in my house, and at work., so that when I’m starving I’ve got something to eat! Too often, poor eating stems not from lack of wanting to eat well, but from lack of anything nutritious to eat within a 5km radius! Keep nuts/seeds in your car to snack on. Throw a piece of fruit in your bag before you leave the house. Set a reminder on your phone not to forget your lunch in the morning (sounds silly, but I forget my lunch A LOT!). If you are able to keep food at work, buy food specifically to keep there so you don’t have to remember to cart food into work every day.
* Have a list of meals that are quick and easy to make, yet still nutritious, that on the nights where you are so time poor that you just can’t imagine having time to cook you can just quickly whip something up that’s faster (and cheaper) than take away……. for example:
#1 - CHICKPEA HOT POT
Take 1 tin of chickpeas, 1 jar of (good quality) pasta sauce and 1 bag of spinach. Tip them all in a saucepan and heat for 5 minutes.
#2 - CHICKEN SAN CHOY BOW
Fry some spring onions, garlic and chicken mince. Add some tamari, or any other seasonings you like, and serve in lettuce cups.
#3 - SCRAMBLED EGGS
Add spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes to increase the nutrient profile.
#4 - SALMON, RICE & VEGGIES
Use a packet of instant brown rice, heat in a saucepan with some mixed frozen veggies, then drain and stir through some tinned (wild caught) salmon.
* And remember, sit and chew your food when you eat. It helps your body break down the food and absorb all the goodness within!
Rebecca Milham - Naturopath and Nutritionist
The Natural Health & Wellness Clinic