I read a quote the other day by Edward Stanley that said:
“Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness.”
And over the course of the last week, I’ve watched a new documentary on Netflix Sugar Coated.
When exactly did the consumption of processed food, almost to the complete exclusion of real food, and the inability to engage in a moderate amount of exercise on a regular basis, become so normalized that the thought of giving up processed foods made you do one of either 2 things – disregard anything I have to say in this post, or freak out and wonder how on earth that would even be possible.
Over the last few years, enough people have asked me how I lost weight or got to look the way I do, I’ve come up with a standard response: “I don’t eat sugar, I don’t eat processed food, and I limit alcohol”. By the time I’m done that short little sentence, most people have stopped listening, and if they haven’t, by the time the hear the bit about limiting alcohol, they’re ready to change the subject.
Here’s the thing though . . . when I have these conversations, part of me wants to throw my hands up and scream. If we feed ourselves a diet of predominantly processed, nutrient-deficient, non-organic, genetically modified diet, what do we expect the end result to be? It can’t be health and vitality, because nothing in this world can survive long-term without solid nutrient-dense foods.
That being said, there are a few people that have been willing to hear me out, but then start to question how it’s possible to eat that way and not spend all my time in the kitchen.
Well, my simple answer to that is with another quote:
“It’s not about having time. It’s about making time. If it matters, you will make time” (Anon).
So, I thought I would outline for all of you, just how it is that I “find the time” to make sure my family gets the healthiest, most nutrient-dense food I can give them so we can do our best to limit disease and our risk of contracting disease later in life (like cancer, diabetes, etc.)
It all starts on Sunday. I have (as I’ve talked about before), a dry-erase magnet on my fridge where I write down what we’re having for breakfast and dinner for each of the days of the upcoming week. On Sunday, before we do a big grocery shop, I plan out our meals for the week based on what we have going on that week.
You can absolutely find healthy foods at your local grocery store – while meats that are traditionally raised without the use of antibiotics, hormones, or feed that contains genetically modified ingredients certainly taste better and require a little bit more time to source (we visit the St. Lawrence Market every Saturday to stock up on meats) – you can get at least antibiotic and hormone free meats at all the major grocery stores now. You can also get lots of organic fruits and vegetables there too, while you’re at it. Sure, fruits and vegetables from your local farmers market (where there farmers selling their actual crops and not just produce that has been sourced from elsewhere) are a better choice, but until you’re ready to take that next step – just shop at your local store.
Sundays are often the day when the Husband and I will batch cook things that we might need for the week.
Sundays are also often the day when I make a batch of my chocolate chip cookies so the kids will have a healthy snack for the week.
For example, I bought 24 chicken thighs at the grocery store yesterday morning, popped them in a simple marinade when I got home, and the Husband barbecued them for us at lunchtime. We all had some for lunch, but I now have 20 leftover to use for my lunches, and the kids lunches this week.
Each night, Sundays included, as soon as the dinner dishes are done, the Husband and I prep some of what will be needed the next morning. That might entail washing and prepping fruits for our daily smoothie or veggies for the kids and the Husband. I also use this time to make sure the kids’ backpacks are packed and ready to go for the next day, and on Sundays in particular, I tend to organize any activity bags we might need for the week (swimming, skating, hockey).
I suppose I’m lucky in that Husband and I make a great team in the mornings. While I’m getting ready, he makes the kids’ breakfast and the smoothies for all of us. And while he’s getting ready, I assemble the kids’ snacks, a bag of veggies for him, and my salad while simultaneously cooking eggs for my breakfast. If he’s not around, the kids and I have the same breakfast at the same time, and snacks and my lunch are assembled after.
Lately, the kids have been REALLY into cooking, and helping me get the things I’ve been adding to my daily salad from the garden. So, I’ve been eating with them we’ve been making my salad and their veggies (they have to have one snack of veggies a day, house rule).
Do your kids help you cook? If not, why not? It took some supervision at first, but my 5 year old can now cut up pretty much any vegetable, whether it’s going in a salad or her snack container. Not only is it more fun to have the kids in the kitchen with you, I’ve found they’ll eat better, knowing they’ve prepared it, and they’re learning a life skill . . .To minimize the risk of accidents, they each have their own knife and they each get their own cutting board.
Depending on what we’re having for dinner that night, I might have the kids help me cut up broccoli or carrots in the morning so they are ready to go for dinner.
I’m also lucky in that both my kids have their lunches provided for them at school – so aside from my salad, and their snacks, I don’t need to do any other food prep in the morning. All in all, the entire time I spend in the kitchen in the morning is 30 minutes, tops.
Again, depending on the day, if I’m at home before I have to pick the kids up from school, and I’m making a “recipe” for dinner, I might do some dinner prep before I leave – pre-measure ingredients, or chop up things like onion or other veggies.
Once we’re all home, I usually start dinner prep at 5:30. If we’re having something that doesn’t require much assistance, the kids are in charge of setting the table, while I get things started. But again, since they love being in the kitchen so much, they’re often in there with me chopping, mixing, even cooking on the stove. Dinners are usually a protein and 2 veggies. Because I menu-plan and shop on Sundays, I rarely need to go to the store during the week, and my total food-prep time is no longer than if I were making a pre-packaged meal from the grocery store.
I will stress that although we are only 4 people, I usually make enough food to serve 6 – that way I have leftovers for my lunch, or to freeze for when I’m in a pinch. And when I make things like my chicken fingers, I make TONS, and freeze them. The kids LOVE making those with me, so why not make a double or triple batch . . . it doesn’t take double or triple the time, and will save time down the road. Also, when I’m making things like roasted sweet potatoes, I make lots – there’s nothing I love more in a salad then roasted sweet potatoes (if you haven’t tried it . . . you have to . . . it’s delicious).
And that . . . well, that’s how I “find” the time to eat well.
Before I conclude, I want to add in that I know many of you believe that it’s simply too expensive to eat organically. To that I will say . . . once you realize how much better you feel, how much healthier you are when you start eating this way, it becomes an easy choice. But more importantly, healthcare is expensive. Far more expensive that eating organically ever will be. Medicines, parking fees to visit doctors, etc. . . . the costs add up . . . wouldn’t it be better to spend perhaps a little bit more nourishing yourself now than pay all the medical bills if/when disease sets in?
And so, given what I’ve had to say today, what would compel you not to eat processed foods for one week??? Because, I bet that once you start, you’ll keep at it for a lot longer than one week!
And now for my new favourite chicken recipe – the one I made yesterday!
Easy Lemony-Herbed Chicken (thighs)
- 2 tbs red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- juice from one lemon
- 3 clove minced garlic
- 1 shallot (minced)
- handful chopped fresh herbs (i’ve used rosemary, thyme, basil . . . use whatever you have on hand, you like, sounds good to you) -salt and pepper to taste
- chicken – use whatever you want – but just enough to serve about 4-6.
- In a medium bowl, add in all the ingredients and mix with a spoon, fork, whisk . . . whatever.
- Add in your chicken, and using some tongs, toss it so that all the chicken pieces get well coated with the marinade.
- Let the chicken sit for a few hours, all day, overnight. When you’re ready, cook the chicken however you want – I’ve been barbecuing lately. But you can also throw it into a pan and bake it in the oven at 350 until it’s no longer pink inside. Or you could sauté it on the stove top.