Friday, February 7, 2014

How to Eat Clean When Busy

Everyone is busy these days.  Life is just filled with so many activities.  We work, we take care of family, we clean, we have extra activities to attend, etc.  There just never seems to be enough time.  A lot of people resort to eating out or grabbing fast food just because it's more convenient than cooking at home.  When you look at the effects on the body and also the monetary cost of that though, it isn't the best option.

I view busyness as the enemy's way of keeping us distracted from the important things.  Now there will be seasons in your life that you will be busy and lose sleep.  There are seasons when you have young children and they require a lot of care and attention.  Then there are seasons when your children are grown and you have time again for rest.  There are seasons of working a lot to save up money or get out of debt, but the end of that season means you can enjoy life to the fullest.  The lesson in life we must learn is to never rush through any particular season. 

I was very bad about that when I was younger.  When I was ten I wanted to be a teenager.  When I was thirteen I wanted to be able to drive.  When I was driving I wanted to have my own place.  When I was dating I couldn't wait to be married and settled with children.  I finally learned not to try to rush life.  I am excited about starting a family with my husband soon but I am not rushing it or missing out on the time we have together right now. 

Busyness may take over your life at some point, I mean let's face it; it always does.  But don't let busyness prevent you from living your best life and being healthy.  We do have to make time to be healthy, but think about the consequences of not living that way!  Disease is much more rampant in those that do not take care of themselves.  Obesity, heart disease, type II diabetes, skin conditions, liver and kidney problems, cancer, etc.  Most of these can be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle and being conscious of your environment and avoiding things that can cause problems like second-hand smoke, chemicals in skincare products and cleaning products, fast food and junk food, etc.

I am by no means perfect, but I have cleaned a lot out of my diet and I have seen positive results.  Eating whole foods is the best thing you can do for your body and your health.  Our bodies, created by God, are meant to receive fuel from whole foods that were also created by God.  He gave us sources of food at its best, but man has been corrupting nature and trying to create something "better."  You can't get anything better than you get from God. 

I see man's attempt at trying to create better foods or alter foods to be better as an attempt to be like God.  That will never work.  Our ecosystem is fragile.  God created it to sustain itself, but when man plays around with chemicals and the like, it breaks down the environment around us.  When God put Adam and Eve on Earth He told them to take care of it and all the animals.  We were given them to sustain us.  When we no longer have a sustainable Earth, we no longer are sustained as humans.  (That's another topic for another day though...) 

The main thing you can do for your health is to eat clean, whole foods.  Vote with your dollars for organic.  You save the world from tons of chemicals when you do.  It's not just about the safety of the food you put in your mouth, but the safety of the environment that produces the food for you.  If you incorporate a few tricks, you can eat clean I promise. 

1)  Take a few minutes each week and prepare a menu plan.

Now I know this sounds crazy when you are so busy but it is the number one thing you have to do.  It's only a few minutes out of your WEEK compared to a few minutes EVERY DAY to pick up fast food.  The choice is yours.  A menu plan should consist of the week on a calendar that you are planning for (or month if you are ambitious). 

List categories of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.  Fill in what you think your family will love to eat under each category for each day.  If you are on a budget, this is very important to plan for.  You will need a go-to list of cheap recipes and cheap, wholesome fillers for your meals.  My favorite fillers are beans!  They are cheap, even organic, and they provide lots of nutrition and fill your belly. 

We do leftovers a lot for lunches so we plan dinners to be large enough for two meals.  That way we aren't resorting to sandwiches (I'm not eating wheat right now and I know a lot of people can't have gluten anyways - PLUS I don't want to eat processed bread due to the ingredients) or having to cook extra meals.  We do fruit and nuts usually for snacks as they are wholesome and filling.

2)  Prepare what you can ahead of time.

Another thing I love about using beans in my meals is that I can soak them overnight then rinse and throw in a crockpot with fresh water to cook throughout the day so they are ready for dinner.  Comparing the cost to canned beans which can also have additives and extra salt, dried beans are the best option all around.  Quinoa is also another good nutritious option that can be soaked ahead of time and it cooks faster than rice.

Some chopping can be done earlier in the day so that putting together dinner doesn't take long at all.  The longest part of the cooking process for me is the chopping.  I am clumsy so I take longer to avoid cutting myself.  Hopefully one day with lots of practice I will be fast at prepping foods.  Just be careful what you chop ahead of time.  Things like apples and avocados brown and should be done fresh right before using.  (Though with apples you can toss slices in fresh lemon juice to slow down the browning process then put in baggies for the kids as a snack to take with them.)

3)  Make cooking a family activity.

My favorite times when I cook is when my husband helps.  He cuts meat for a living so he is an awesome prepper for chopping foods.  Having help in the kitchen really does cut down the time.  Even young children can help whether it be setting the table, loading the dishwasher, or handing Mommy and Daddy items to throw into the pot.

Also when you cook together as a family, children have more appreciation for what they eat and are less likely to be picky.  It is a good time for family togetherness and fun and creates precious memories for everyone.  It may take some getting used to for some people.  I grew up in a family where we got in each other's way more than helped.  It takes practice just like anything else.

4)  Make your own convenience foods.

The best part to me for cooking larger meals is also that I can freeze portions for our own convenience meals.  We all have tough days where we just don't want to cook.  If you already have a healthy whole foods casserole in the freezer, you can plan to use that for dinner on those days that you know you may have a tough time.  Just throw in the oven to reheat and toss a salad or something to go with it.  Quick and easy and most importantly...healthy.

You can also make your own snack baggies for grabbing on the go or throwing into children's lunch boxes.  There are excellent real food recipes for granola online that makes an awesome snack or cereal!  Did you know you can also make your own treats like fruit roll-ups?  I can't wait to try that one out!

So the thing that I am learning is that no matter how busy you are, you must make time to be healthy and keep your family healthy.  After all, we only get one body in this lifetime and we must take care of it now.  Every choice we make for what goes into our bodies affects us in some way, whether good or bad.  I want the good.  I hope these tips help you in your journey to eating clean.  Please leave any tips you may have in the comment section below!

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