I’d also like to bust the myth that you need to have oodles of free time in order to live a truly healthy lifestyle.
I don’t have oodles of free time.
I don’t really know anyone who has oodles of free time.
Eating healthy, preparing vegetables, getting enough exercise has nothing to do with free time.
It has everything to do with planning and prioritizing – and having a few go-to shortcuts in your back pocket.
So here, without further ado, is my first batch of quick and easy ways to keep your very busy life, very healthy.
1. Make Friends With The Right Kind Of Frozen.
Many of my clients tell me that, when they’re pooped at the end of the day and don’t have the energy to cook a whole meal, they’ll resort to a crappy frozen pizza – because it’s quick.
My question is: Why does it have to be a crappy frozen pizza?
Sure – a home-cooked meal made from scratch has the potential to be healthier than a frozen dinner – but there are PLENTY of very healthy frozen meals and pizzas out there that could serve you very well in a pinch. I’m talking about brands that are low in fat, and which use whole foods and whole grains in their ingredients – and no chemicals or preservatives. ‘Amy’s', for example, is one brand that is becoming more mainstream and easy to find – and their products are excellent, in my opinion.
Just because it’s ‘frozen’ doesn’t automatically mean it has to be a lousy choice. Try to look beyond frozen chicken fingers and 4-cheese pizzas when you’re shopping for frozen meals. Set yourself up for success. Stock your freezer with healthy frozen options for those nights when you just don’t have it in you to cook.
2. Learn A Fast, Healthy Recipe With Under 5 Ingredients.
We are creatures of habit. We cook what we know. If the only quick recipes you know are things like pasta with butter, or chicken parm – then that’s what you’re going to cook when you’re crunched for time.
You need new recipes!
See if you can expand your repertoire to include just one or two recipes that can come together in under 20-minutes with minimal ingredients. These are not hard to find on the interwebs (or right here on my website!) – and, when you find something you like, you can make an effort to keep the necessary ingredients in stock.
My go-to emergency quick meal is some combination of brown rice (I often use the frozen kind from Trader Joe’s in a pinch), an onion, some frozen peas, and some spinach – quickly sauteed together with a little sesame oil and soy sauce. The end.
3. Add Greens Everywhere.
Another big complaint from clients and non-clients alike is that preparing vegetables takes too much time.
My answer to this problem may not be featured on The Food Network any time soon, but it will get you eating more greens and also save you some time.
See – one of the very cool things about greens like spinach or kale or chard, is that they don’t need a ton of time to cook. They wilt quickly.
So, with that in mind, I encourage you to throw greens into everything you already happen to be making.
If you’re making soup – even canned soup – try stirring some extra greens into your pot. Seriously – just stir in some greens as you’re heating the soup. Boom. Done.
Cookin’ up some chili? Mix in some kale towards the end of cooking.
Makin’ pasta? Drop some greens into the boiling water, along with your pasta – and top with whatever sauce you were already planning to use.
This works great with almost any kind of vegetable, actually – fresh or frozen. If you’re pressed for time, don’t worry about preparing a whole separate side dish or side salad. Just throw vegetables into whatever you’ve got going on. The vegetables don’t care that they’re not in their own dish.
4. ABC: Always Be Choosing.
I think there’s a false sense that, in order to be ‘HEALTHY’, one needs to be bathed in constant sunlight, wearing clean, white exercise clothes, drinking vegetable juice all day long and eating spa cuisine that you personally prepared by hand.
Can we let go of that ideal, please?
All you need to do to live a healthy lifestyle – no matter how hectic and busy you are - is to keep making the healthiest choice possible from moment to moment to moment.
It starts in the grocery store when you decide what to put in your cart. What you put in your cart, you put in your kitchen – and what you have in your kitchen is what you end up putting in your face when it’s 9pm and you have the munchies.
You’re in the grocery store ANYWAY, right? No matter what your crazy schedule – at some point, you have to buy food, yes? So you might as well buy healthy food and, more importantly, do NOT buy the food that sabotages you in your weaker moments. Choose health at the supermarket and you’ll make it easier to choose health when life gets crazy.
Tomorrow I’ll be sharing a few more shortcuts and strategies to simplify and healthify your life. None of this stuff has to be hard, I promise – and everything you do ‘counts’.
For free weekly health tips that are ridiculously easy, just plop your name and email in the box below or at the top of the page. And if you’d like some more support and insight about your health and your eating habits, let’s talk it out together over here.
See you tomorrow!