In all my time nutrition and weight loss coaching I have yet to find any woman, including myself, who isn’t affected by the constraints of time! We all want nothing more than to be healthy with true body confidence at the very least, if not a perky ‘peach’ (apparently now trendier than a 6-pack). But we know that it takes time to achieve these things and if you’re a busy, plate-spinning, life-juggling lady boss, full time mum, or simply a female existing in this modern world, it can seem impossible to entertain even the thought of a healthy eating routine whilst maintaining the craft of being a woman – AKA being everything to everyone (else)!
As if it is not already hard enough without the social media posts that surround us showcasing the health highlights reel (detox-dinners, gym get-ups and progress pics) of our female contemporaries, subconsciously forcing us to guiltily question our own commitment to the cause and then leaving us bewildered as to how on earth these women have time to be so healthy let a lone post about it!
Many nutritional experts will also tell you that ‘healthy’ and ‘convenient’ are on the opposite ends of the nutrition spectrum – of course if we are talking about typical fast foods and takeaways then absolutely this is true. But there are many wholesome and nutritious foods you can make from scratch that do not take hours in the kitchen.
There were times during my days running a busy health studio in the UK and trying to do a million other things when it was challenging even for me to honour my body with healthy choices. But there are ways! The trick is to not over think it and follow some of the simple tips and recipes I share below.
Before you head to the kitchen for some convenient healthy cooking, here are my top 5 tips for maintaining a time efficient busy woman’s healthy diet and to help you prepare your own health highlights reel!
TIP 1. GET ORGANISED
Not exactly breaking news, BUT the undeniable truth is that planning will save you time in the long run and we just have to suck it up and do it!
You don’t have to spend hours shopping and scheduling meals, but certainly a quick plan of the dishes you are going to make through the week in order to have all the ingredients to hand goes a long way to keeping you on track. Taking 10 minutes on a Sunday afternoon or evening for example to think about the next 7 days will save you ‘umming and aarhing’ over what to have for dinner each night an hour before it needs to be served. To successfully prioritise health into our busy lives we must take ownership and get organised – My tips that follow will help you to do this with ease.
TIP 2. BUILD A SUPER FOOD PANTRY
A Superfood Pantry is your trusted ‘go-to’ food cupboard for ingredients that are simply just good for you. Whether whipping up a quick snack or a main gourmet meal, having to hand the foods that are by default, good for you, will make your time in the kitchen super efficient as well as super healthy!
Use this infographic as a resource to understanding three key components to any healthy meal: Protein, Plants and LGL-GF Carbs.
LGL-GF (LOW GLYCEMIC LOAD GLUTEN FREE) CARBS:
It’s not unusual for personal trainers and health coaches these days to recommend carbohydrate-free eating especially for weight loss. And although this can be a useful method to kick start a metabolic ‘shake-up’ it is not sustainably healthy. The key is to regularly choose carbohydrates that naturally carry a low glycemic load.
Blood sugar control is proving to be one of the most important factors in both long term health and efficient fat burning / fat loss. The Glycemic Load refers to how much of an impact a particular carbohydrate has on our blood sugar levels and the hormones (including insulin) which deal with these fluctuations and it is recognised that for general daily consumption – the lower the GL the the better. Of course where exercise demands and other special circumstances are concerned, higher glycemic foods from time to time. But in general, the more stable we can keep our blood sugar levels within an optimal range, the healthier we will be.
The Superfood Pantry also highlights Gluten Free grains – this is a big topic unto itself, and I will blog about this soon, but the reality is these days that naturally gluten free foods (such as those listed in the Superfood Pantry) are better for your immune system and insides. This translates into promoting more optimal nutrient absorption and energy production for most individuals.
Both animal and plant based proteins contain amino acids that are crucial for health. Maintaining a balanced metabolism, enabling repair and recovery and adaptation to stress and exercise all rely on good amounts of proteins in the diet. Protein-dense foods also help to to feel full and satisfied and keep blood sugar levels stable; allowing us to more easily maintain energy and shed unwanted body fat.
Plant based foods (vegetables, fruits, seaweeds, legumes, grains) are important because of their antioxidant and fibre contents.
Antioxidants protects our bodies from free radical damage (FRD) which leads to premature ageing, tissue damage and inflammation – all of which make us susceptible to disease and weight gain.
Fibre is KEY for soooo many healthy processes in the body. It not only keeps our bowels clean and regular, like protein it supports optimal blood sugar balance which helps in turn with heart health and weight loss.
So the trick is to get these three components of a healthy meal in a natural yet fast and convenient way – The recipes I share with you below do exactly that!
TIP 3. INVEST A LITTLE NOW TO GAIN A LOT LATER
I highly recommend you invest (in stages if necessary) in some core kitchen tools that will make your life a lot easier. I don’t know where I would be without my slow cooker, high speed blender (such as a Nutribullet) and steamer pots.
Despite their name, Slow Cookers actually save you a lot of time, making meal time super easy because the bulk of your meal cooks throughout the day while you’re out doing whatever you do best. Before I set off for a year on the road… I used my slow cooker ALL THE TIME! I Loved the fact that it had a whole meal ready for me to come home and just steam up some green veg (a vital accompaniment) all of which took around 15mins.
I also believe stainless steel (not plastic) steamers are a must for healthy cooking with convenience! If you grew up in the time of over cooked, boiled to death vegetables with every meal, it is likely you have been put off vegetables for life, but a quality stacking stainless steel steamer can easily reverse this adversity. With a steamer you can perfectly maintain the crisp vibrancy of your vegetables without losing nutrition and most importantly flavour. I also LOVE to steam fish and chicken because it takes no time at all and cooks them to tender juicy perfection. Steamed Pesto Salmon and Vegetables takes only 20mis (including prep time!) What how much easier can healthy get!
Finally how would I live without a blender? No seriously, I think it would be game over! Smoothies and superfood shakes are as integral to my daily health routine as brushing my teeth (both of which feature twice a day)! It is not uncommon for me to have a super smoothie for breakfast and then again in the afternoon after craving something sweet! A quick blend of banana, spinach, almond butter, cocoa nibs, dates and honey is often just what the sweet Dr ordered…and this is also what I LOVE LOVE LOVE about a high speed blender – the ability to make healthy treats that will not only satisfy the sweet ‘itch’ that can be so hard to scratch when focusing on being heathy, but will also nourish you at the same time.
TIP 4. GROCERY SHOP ONLINE
These days there is no excuse to have no food in the house. Online grocery shopping, be it through your budget supermarket or high end organic delivery service is a perfect way to ensure hassle free upkeep of your Superfood Pantry when pushed for time. Weekly or 2x weekly deliveries straight to your door will make your healthy lifestyle a breeze and what little extra you may have pay for delivery will be well worth your time and money spend getting to the shops and then wandering aimlessly around food aisles wondering what to buy at the same time as being tempted by the cleaver marketing of chemical laden, processed junk which let’s face it, makes up the majority of our supermarkets stock.
TIP 5. PERSEVERE TO EAT AS A FAMILY
Over the years I have met many women who prior to working with me spent hours in the kitchen trying to please fussy children and fussy husbands – sometimes making up to four different meals each night in order for them to be able to eat their healthy meals and also to keep the peace.
I made a strong point of showing clients (observing of course the upmost respect for them as mothers, appreciating it is no easy task to constantly feed a family) that this habit unfortunately sent out a number of unhealthful messages. One being that ‘Mum’s healthy eating’ is not normal or common place and only something Mum does.
I also explained that fortunately unhealthy eating behaviours can be un-learned with perseverance and a little tough love. If you had a mother like mine, you’ll know this can work very quickly! Her motto for us growing up was ‘you either eat what you are given or you go hungry’ – needless to say there were no fussy eaters in our house!
So, if you are the main cook in your household (and if not, this applies to whoever is) in order to not only to make your health goals and life in general much easier, but also to emit healthful messages around food and nutrition, it is important to work on healthy eating as a family. The best way to honour your loved ones is to feed them the same good stuff you want to feed yourself.
Now you’ve had a little food for thought, it’s now time to make a little food for, well … eating!
Here’s a sample of a ‘convenient health food’ plan consisting of several of my favourite simple, quick and delicious recipes for you to enjoy!