Monday, July 27, 2009

"I Just Don't Have the Time..."

This is the number one comment I get when talking to people about eating healthier. Why is it that what should be one of the most important rituals of our day gets tossed aside from our priority list as easily as over ripe bananas get tossed in the garbage instead of being used for banana bread? If we "are what we eat", then why don't we devote more time and energy into eating well?

The truth is; life is fast. We live in a world where you can wake up in San Francisco, have lunch in Chicago and dance the night away in New York City. Information is exchanged, literally, at our fingertips in a matter of seconds. News of wildfires in Australia or natural disasters in China can reach you seconds after being reported. It's no wonder people feel overwhelmed at everything happening in the hear about it all, and fast! For this reason especially, we need to grasp strongly to some routines in our lives that bring peace, gratefulness, and a sense of togetherness and connection. For thousands and thousands of years, humans have experienced these feelings over a shared meal. For those of you with children, Eating Together As A Family Creates Better Eating Habits Later In Life. This study shows yet another reason to ring that cowbell at dinner time.

Here are some tips to making mealtime one of your priorities:

* Shut off the TV. This includes mealtimes, but the less TV you watch during the morning, day or evening allows you more time to prepare meals. Just cutting out one or two 1-hour shows per week can keep your fridge stocked with well-prepped snacks and easy meal additions.
* Plan Ahead. Take an hour each week to plan out your meals for the week. They don't all have to be home-made, but then you will know ahead of time which meals are to be made at home and which meals will be bought prepared. No more "5pm: Oh no! What's for dinner?!?"
* Plan of leftovers. Make double or triple of what you are cooking and have leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. Did you know that we are one of few countries in which people have a different recipe or food for every meal? Most societies use part or all of a previous meal for the next one!
* Freeze it. Many foods will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer. Even most of the nutrition is still intact as well! So stock up on freezer-safe glass containers and get a labeling pen for the date and meal name.
* Involve your kiddos. Kids may slow down the cooking time a bit in the kitchen, but there are loads of benefits. First of all, they are more likely to eat the foods in which they helped prepare. Second, you get to spend quality time with them, something severely lacking for fast-paced families. Third, you will be teaching them that food does not only come from a box. They will begin to appreciate meals more and file away the knowledge that meals are created, not "opened" from a box. Later in life, they WILL thank you for this basic understanding and knowledge...I promise! (Mom - THANKS!!)
* KEEP IT SIMPLE. Really, who has time to spend 3 hours in the kitchen preparing dinner? Well, I sure don't. Most of my meals are prepared in about 30 minutes or less. The trick? A little planning ahead (for meal planning, soaking grains, groceries on hand), and setting the time aside (this is not the easiest thing!). Usually, something has got to go to make this time available. (Last time I checked the day was still only 24 hours...much to my dismay!) So, for me, just getting organized about the day cured that problem. Next, KEEP IT SIMPLE! Steamed broccoli drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and pepper accompanied by baked salmon in butter and garlic can be a whole meal prepared in about 20-25 minutes. And only about 5-10 minutes is active time in the kitchen!

So next time you think, "I just don't have the time!", I urge you to re-assess your priorities and make the time. Your life will be enriched in countless ways. Happy Meal Planning!

If you want some extra help with meal planning, I can assist you and your family in learning how to create and execute meal plans that meet your family's nutritional and scheduling needs. Call (925) 951-7136 to start.

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