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No Time to Nourish Your Body?

I spoke with a client, a business owner last week who lamented she knows she wants to eat healthier and desires her family eat better as well, but the reality of each day and the time constraints therein seem to prevent her from getting out of the rut of having no time to meal plan, shop or cook. So around 5p when the collective stomach growl of the family occurs, someone makes a fast food run to just get food on the table.

This is a common plight for the busy American family, and even more so when one or both parents are business owners. It just seems like the demands of the day outweigh the ability to find or make the time to care for oneself or family in a way that matches their values or desire for healthier living including a nutritious diet.

If you can relate to this at all, let’s consider some options to break out of this cycle.

  1. Reconnect with your values around health and wellbeing. If you have a domestic partner or spouse talk to them about their values around this issue as well. Share your concerns and hear theirs. If you and they truly want to do something different then just fast food or quick and cheap processed food, you’ll need to come up with a plan that is reasonable and realistic to your current lifestyle and work demands.

  2. Pick a day of the week to devote 15 minutes to meal planning. If you take Sunday’s off then use that day to meal plan/ shop /prep. Consider what foods you can add back into your diet that you can easily begin to pre prep such as carrots, broccoli, and celery that you can wash, cut up and store in the fridge. They can be used as raw snacks and later tossed in a wok for a quick chicken veggie stir fry later in the week.

  3. Designate dinner nights with all members of the household including older kids. Kids can be taught to cook “breakfast for dinner” and can learn valuable life skills through cooking as well as what it means to work as family unit. This can take the pressure off a parent(s) one or two nights a week. Older kids can enlist the help of younger kids and they can all get involved to help the family.

  4. Make a monthly plan that includes dinner categories. This helps to minimize all the time wasted over the dreaded dinner question of “what’s for dinner tonight”? If Mondays are chicken night, Tuesdays taco night, Wednesdays breakfast for dinner night… then you already have that question largely answered. Our additional categories are fish night, ethnic night and vegetarian night.

  5. Shop on your day off and add fresh produce “snacks” to the list. Once you arrive home, wash strawberries, cut up melons and top off with blueberries to create a bright, healthy attractive snack that you can leave out for awhile and let family graze as they walk by. Replace chips, cookies and soda with these healthier alternatives whenever possible.

  6. Invite the whole family on the hunt for dinner recipes in under 15 minutes. Kids who love to research and create can look through cook books or go on line and find new recipe ideas to infuse into the family dinner rotation. If they find the recipe they may be more eager to help prepare it as well.

  7. Commit to taking a dinner break- even if it means having to return to some work after the family meal. This is an important time in the family, to share dinner together, talk about everyone’s day, and have a no phone zone conversation over a meal. This one act can make all the difference for kids to feel seen and heard.

  8. Start slow in baby step fashion- If you are currently racing for fast food every day at dinner time, plan just one night to start where you cook some tarragon turkey burgers on the grill, make a salad and a bowl of strawberries on the side. You can serve up healthy meals in under 15 minutes with just a little planning. Tossing ingredients in a crock pot and letting that soup, chili or lamb roast cook all day is another way to avoid the fast food dinner dash. Eating healthier is a matter of deciding you want better for your life, health and your family’s health. Making one small and different choice each day can move the needle in a different direction without taking up a big chunk of time. When you begin to tell yourself a different story, one that no longer sounds like “I don’t have time to cook or eat healthy”, to one that sounds like “ I will take small steps to ensure I eat healthier”, your mind and body will thank you and you will likely reap the reward of renewed energy and better health.

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