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The Hard Truth About Eating Healthy

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“There’s just not enough time in the day,” “If I had more time I could________.”  We’ve all heard it, heck most of us have probably even said it at some point in our lives.  The number one reason a person gives up on good nutrition is time constraints.  We are all given the same amount of hours in our day, it’s just the CHOICES we make on how to spend those hours, that separates us…

Challenges to Healthy Eating

#1: Lack of a Good Market: When we say “market,” we are referring to a place where you can buy affordable, fresh, whole foods.  In the absence of this market in most communities, we are forced to shop at the supermarket (traditional grocery stores), where we end up paying more for convenience.  Another downfall to supermarket shopping is the temptation to grab those cinnamon rolls, Oreo cookies, and other unhealthy processed foods.  Studies show that overweight and obesity are associated with the lack of or limited access to fresh foods.
#2: Limited Time to Shop: Many of us work 40+ hours a week, with some of us even having to commute to and from our jobs.  Once the workday ends, we are then faced with the decision to head to the gym to workout/exercise, grocery shop, or tend to children at home.  Some people may even hold multiple jobs, which limits time even more.
#3: Transporting Food: This dilemma not only involves having a reliable means of transportation (i.e. vehicle), but it also takes strength and energy to be able to carry all of those shopping bags inside.  Living on the top floor of an apartment building, having an injury such as a bad back, or trying to haul 3 little kids into the house, puts a strain on your transport abilities.  So with these challenges, many people take the easy way out and order fast food/takeout, or put off the idea of going shopping altogether.
#4: Time to Cook: Again, another time factor.  Now that you have bought all of those fresh foods, most of them need to be cooked and preserved quickly.  It takes time to wash, peel, cut up, bake, roast, steam and store these food items.
#5: Equipment, Seasoning, and Ingredients: Sometimes preparing these food items can take up to six pieces of equipment (knives, cutting boards, spoons, peeler, grater, etc.), and not to mention other ancillary ingredients (sugar, onion, garlic, cloves, ginger, etc).  In some ways, corners can be cut, but most things are necessities to ensure the meal is properly cooked.
#6: Cooking Skills: In today’s society, we are far removed from the days where people grew up in households where cooking was performed on a regular basis, and where people were taught to cook at school.  These skills are typically passed on and socially enforced.  It takes experience and skill to finely chop your “foodstuff” and put it altogether without tasting awful.

Ok, so we know that eating healthy is demanding…on your wallet and your time…so where do we go from here?

Reasonable Solutions

  • Build a Kitchen Toolkit: Invest in the basic kitchen supplies and shop around for the best prices.
  • Schedule Shopping and Meal Prep: Don’t scramble and opt for less-nutritious, convenient meals because you aren’t prepared. Set aside a day and time each week to shop and cook…put it in your calendar!
  • Simplify Cooking: Meals do not have to be elaborate to taste delicious. Plan to prepare basic, well-balanced meals.  A little salt, pepper, and garlic powder can quickly jazz up your pallet.
  • Prioritize Stress Reduction: Reduce your total stress load to make more time in your life for quality nutrition. Go for a walk, join a local fitness facility, take a yoga class, visit friends/family, read a book, be silly!
  • Be Sensitive: Healthy eating requires more effort and organization than most people think. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!!  Find a nutrition coach to help guide you along your journey and hold you accountable to reach your goals.

In the end, nothing worth having comes easy.  You can wish for it all you want, but in order to achieve it, you have to work for it.