Healthy eating for busy lifestyle - Lazy cook guidelines

 

I want to start with stating that this is an absolute no judgment zone, no pointing fingers. I will simply be guiding you through my story which I hope will be a hand out from one hardworking individual and a lazy cook to another.

Healthy eating for me has always been overwhelming. I never knew where to start with the meal plans and when I finally found a plan, it felt too time-consuming. Thus, I became one of the cyclical health nuts, yo-yoing between eating extremely healthy one day to eating the fastest, most preserved food the next day.

What happens to the busy girl who wants to be healthy, but finds herself cycling between the extremes of healthy eating and binging on unhealthy food?

THE STRESS OF FOOD

What happens to the busy girl who wants to be healthy, but finds herself cycling between the extremes of healthy eating and binging on unhealthy food?

Well, I attached another yo-yoing emotion of guilt and shame to my already fragile relationship with food, which as we all know is epitome of health!

And although a major component, this is not the only aspect of health that I felt shame and guilt towards. It was just an add-onn on to daily stress of not walking enough, not stretching enough, not meditating enough; by the time I got to food, the stress of being healthy was causing such high levels of cortisol production that my relationship with food was purely based on constant state of fight or flight. It was a constant reminder pointing to my lack of self-control and my inability to prioritize my health above my career or other goals. Needless to say, this caused all kinds of break downs in this beautiful machine of my body. Adding the desire and failure of wanting to be healthy to the knowledge of hypocrisy as I daily gave my clients health advises was consuming me into this spiral of negativity.

Abandoning Perfectionism in Implementing Healthy Eating Habits

So what did I do, you ask?

For starters, I decided that stressing about being healthy was unhealthy (Duh, I know), so I started with implementing self-love and taking it easy on myself. Implementing self-love is not as straight forward of an idea as one might think. I started starting my day with daily positive affirmations. I stood in front of the mirror every morning and said, " you are doing the best you can" along many affirmations that I did not believe in. It is such a weird feeling to stand in front of a mirror and give yourself a pad in the back. I still don't know if I belief my daily affirmations every day, but it is gotten more routine and less awkward.

By now, I have accepted that I actually like the busy and hectic lifestyle I have. I feel challenged and useful by doing what I love and I should not feel shame about. Having said that I do work a job that can be physically and emotionally exhausting and I want to make eating healthy a part of my routine in this fast paced world, so I had to create a plan that fit me. By plan, I mean a general guideline that lets me feel healthy, but has room for a breather.

Guideline that efficiently simplifies Healthy Eating

My guideline into healthy eating has 3 easy to follow rules:

  • I started by bringing back the K.I.S. S rule: Keep It Simple Silly bean. I thought to myself what is the biggest obstacle? Well, for me, it was all of it: the cooking, the cleaning, the grocery shopping and meal prepping. Don’t get me wrong, I have times I want to do it all, but it is about twice a month which I believe contributed to my yo-yoing behaviour with food.

  • The second item in my guideline is what saved my relationship with food. I have this rule of everything under 20 minutes: I am a firm believer in this. Of course every rule is subject to a standard of error, so 10 minutes more or less is the lenience I have on this rule, but even that is conditional. The recipes that I collect to make as weekday foods are mostly, easy and under 20 minutes and that is including prep time.

Slowly I realized that I have go-to recipes for this which are not only under 20 minutes, but they were flexible and adaptable to what is present in my fridge and required zero thought processing. For example, in the morning, I quickly wash and cut up vegetables and sauté it on a pan with tofurky meatless kielbasa or egg whites and voila here is lunch and sometimes dinner. Other times I drizzle the vegetables with oil, salt and pepper and leave it to bake for 30-40 minutes. This is longer than 20 minutes, but I don’t have to watch it, as in I get ready and eat my breakfast until my lunch is ready. I do like to have some desert, but this does not have to be complicated. 


My desert is sometimes as simple as peanut butter and banana, other times it is brie cheese, chopped almonds topped with raw honey. Or some Sundays, I make healthy cookies with oatmeal, apples, and gluten free flour or chocolate almond milk or homemade peanut butter to eat with fruit and veggies: all of which take under 20 minutes. My breakfast is usually, overnight oats with Greek yogurt or steamed apples with cereal/ oats, Turkish menemen/omelet or avocado, tomato toast and a handful of almonds. What is for breakfast is really dependent on whether I slept in. 



These are some go-to recipes I have compiled. On the weekends, I look up easy to make recipes and try making them, and if I feel like it fits with my 20 minute rule, I add the recipe to my recipe book. So far, I have one book of recipes that I have compiled, I eat healthy, I never run out of variety of recipes and I spent minimal amount on cooking.

  • I do not go grocery shopping with a list, but I go on small grocery trip for the next couple meals after work. This may or may not work for you. I live on my own, so my grocery needs are small, so this works for me and it may be adapted to a family with some changes.

On Sundays, I check the fridge to see if there is any non-dairy milk, Greek yogurt, eggs, vegan meat, veggies and fruit left? At the grocery store I buy 2-3 types of fruit and 4 types of seasonal vegetables (2 green, 2 not)and non-dairy milk, Greek yogurt, eggs and vegan meat as needed. I also buy staple items which for my diet include olive oil, apple cider vinegar, raw honey, almonds, onion, garlic, ginger, non-dairy milk, Greek yogurt, eggs and vegan meat as needed. I never buy a week's food or all my staple items all together, I just sort of pick them up after work as they run low. My post work grocery store trips are never longer than half an hour. 


Make healthy eating fun with efficient, flexible and enjoyable cooking guidelines

These 3 rules conclude my list. I don’t have a set number for eating out or cheat days. They just happen when they need to, I do like to keep them to under 2-3 days per week. I also have this general rule of not having unhealthy food in my kitchen. Thus, if you are also a hardworking individual with lazy cooking tendencies, be nice to yourself, do not have unrealistic ideals and start with a simple guide and conscious choice to be healthy and the rest will follow.

 
Laleh Maroufi