Okay, so we all know that I love the word “organize” and, even more, love to find things that need me to follow through with the action! So, when I realized that my eating & shopping habits could qualify for one of my favorite activities if I look at it from a different point of view…well, you’ll see.
Do you ever have those crazy hectic days, weeks, or even months when you are lucky if you get to eat at all, much less eat healthy? We are six weeks into the New Year, and many of us set goals in January to work on our eating and exercise habits. It’s a lot harder than it seems during the anticipation of what the year will bring, huh?
While I am fascinated by nutrition and wellness, I am not a health expert. But I have learned – through my least favorite teacher, ‘Experience’ – that when I, personally, eat is just as important as what I eat. With life and work being what it is, we are all running to and from meetings, attending networking events, working, and spending time with friends and family. The ability to eat the right stuff at the right time is difficult.
Stress is something else my body forces me to acknowledge and handle in a healthier manner, so taking care of myself is important. And letting food stress me out is not an option. Hence, organized eating…
Oddly enough, for being a compulsive planner, I rarely plan out my meals a week in advance. Cooking ahead for the week is a fantastic way to ‘organize’ eating, but it’s not a habit I have built yet. Instead, I focus on having healthy ingredients in the house and from there, allow mood and inclination to lead when cooking and eating. But that identifies the first step right there.
Step 1 ::
At the grocery store – willpower and a list make sure I have the foundation I need for the week. They say to never go grocery shopping hungry, and boy is that true…it’s amazing what “jumps” in your basket when you’re hungry. Or angry. Or lonely. Or tired. This acronym, H.A.L.T., has been an invaluable tool as I’m putting food in my basket at the store. Am I making wise choices or emotional choices? If sugar lands in my buggy, ten-to-one I am, at the very least, tired. Try it the next time you go to the store and see what happens.
Step 2 ::
By making sure healthy items are available whenever low blood sugar, hunger, or schedule interferes with the plan for the day, you set yourself up for success. It is hard when you work somewhere with a handy vending machine full of yummy, unhealthy options. A stash of healthy options in your desk or refrigerator makes that 3 pm craving is a breeze. I keep healthy snacks & protein bars in every purse, briefcase, and bag that I carry, along with a refillable glass water bottle that stays near me so I don’t start eating when I’m really thirsty.
Quick Tip :: My sister taught me this. When groceries come into the house, she immediately rinses fruits and veggies and places them in individual portion containers. Then, when she is heading out the door, she can stop by the refrigerator, gather a few containers, put them in her bag. If you have a cooler bag, single serve containers of hummus and guacamole are worth paying a little extra at the store.
Step 3 ::
Warning – this is the hardest step. Changing the habits of a lifetime. Gulp. I don’t like the word change. And I don’t particularly enjoy the process of breaking habits. This takes a lot of intention and focus, but the benefits are so worth it. Success in any change begins with attitude. The wrong attitude of ‘deprivation’ leads to obsessive desire for the “bad” food and eventually, giving in to the unhealthy options temporarily or abandoning goals altogether. By focusing on my “why” and maintaining a positive attitude of hope, I can achieve my goals of health, vitality, and energy. And, going back to Step 1, I often have to just H.A.L.T. – acknowledge what is really behind the ‘deprivation’, process it, and move forward.
Quick Tip :: Whatever a healthy diet looks like for you, find some ‘treats’, that fall within those guidelines and make sure you plan your times to savor them. Refined sugar does not do well in my body at all, so I have found healthier options when I’m craving something ‘sweet’.
Whether you’re holding strong to your January health goals or they’ve changed / been abandoned, a little forethought and intention and this will be the year you achieve them. And sooner than you think! The great thing is, even if we wander off the road here and there, the road is still there and we can hop back on.
We all learn from each other and I would love to hear your tips on how you organize your eating – please leave a comment below!