Updated: Jun 27
“You have to be a masterclass chef, no one’s got time for that.”
Not an uncommon phrase.
In reality, not everyone enjoys the preparation and acquisition of food.
It’s tiresome and lengthy and sometimes results in lacklustre dishes.
#1 Firstly, you need to know what healthier eating would actually look like in the context of your diet, to you.
You have to start somewhere, you cannot edit nothing.
You have to acknowledge and understand your current eating habits, behaviours, food you eat and the amounts.
Doing this requires effort and is usually the first hurdle people don’t want to face.
There’s no shame in feeding yourself, how you do it or your food choices. We have to assess a fundamental starting place so you can have relevant information that helps you.
No more ‘juice fasting’ that lasts 3 days and makes you miserable, omitting occasions out, never seeing anyone…
Write down your food, the amounts, times, who you are with, how fast you ate, how you feel,
I repeat - many people go eurghhhh here - but this is where the absolute gold is.
You will notice things that immediately you would be happy enough to change.
You then know your energy intake and find ways to bridge gaps with swaps and solutions.
#2 You then need provision, which means access to money and supermarkets.
A cost of living crisis, the type of work you do, how many people in the household, food prices are on the rise.
We might find it very tough to keep up.
There are ways to asses how we distribute a healthy food budget from income if you look:
Pepsi max and coke are around £1.40 each.
A pint of beer is around £4 - each…
A bottle of wine at the pub is around £20 - glasses can be £6-£9
A Costa cappuccino, latte or hot chocolate is around £4.00 - each
Pizza from Dominoes is around £20
Lunch meal deal is around £4 5x per week, £24.
How long do they take to earn in your job? Think about those hours.
How many are you having and how often per week?
Now look at ‘basics’
Eggs are around 26p each
A slice of bread is 18p
15g (enough for a slice) of ‘expensive’ President butter comes out at 21p
30g reduced fat cheese is around 24p
I can make egg sandwiches, cheese sandwiches eggs on toast, cheese on toast, eggy bread, scrambled, boiled eggs and soldiers, poached eggs.
Healthy fats, proteins, whole grains, nutritional powerhouse foods.
3 eggs, 2 slices of bread, 30g butter, 30g cheese
Have a breakfast or a lunch for the week and shave 50% off a meal deal.
#3 You need the time to be able to shop.
Maximising time is of benefit to everyone. Some of us are incredibly time poor with huge responsibilities with long work hours, family and care responsibilities.
The time it takes to make a shopping list, get in a vehicle, go around the store, pack the items into the vehicle, transport again, unload and store those items, is all ‘dead’ time.
That time could’ve been higher rewarding to you. I don’t mean more Netflix, Xbox or scrolling. I mean time you could be working out, planning events, booking and organising your calendar, spending time with family, your kids… stuff that actually matters.
Maximising time and utilising digital technologies helps us now with more access to systems than ever.
Take your first hour of the day as an example.
Break it into 15 minute chunks:
What are you doing?
What are you doing?
What are you doing?
What are you doing?
Now - what do you notice?
Can you maximise that time anywhere?
How would you improve it?
I bet you can find 15 minutes here and there to be productive.
#4 You need to be able to carry and transport your items.
If you don’t drive, then there’s so many barriers presented.
What are you physically able to carry and take?
Will it keep all the way until you’re home?
Can you afford and carry frozen/cool bags?
Whole food is heavier and larger as it has more hydration and fibre than a prepared meal.
Athletes got really good at this using dried fruit, biltong and light convenient food to fuel athletic duration endeavours with exactly what they need.
You can get really good too.
Not being pulled in by the offers and “oh look” moments when shopping (cue, omg Ben and Jerry’s!) and knowing exactly what you’re going for and what you need keeps shopping concise.
Even going more frequently reduces the volume.
Better yet, book a delivery with the scrolling time you found in point #3.
#5 You need to be able to store your items.
Not everyone has a walk in larder like Nigella and if refrigeration is difficult, whole food typically needs using faster.
Buy too much, it’s wasted, no one likes wasting food.
Heat allows spoilage bacteria to proliferate. Trust me, I’ve travelled and stored food in beer fridges and cold water filled sinks, I hear you.
Let the supermarkets and food producers do the storage for you.
Then if you understand that regulating caloric intake is the primary target and you know how to do that, the world is your oyster.
Grab and go deli items with caloric information or even apps now have abilities to guesstimate meals from images help you further.
#6 You need to be able to cook those items.
Recently I watched a video on UK shot putter Geoff Capes who also won World’s Strongest Man in ‘77 and ‘78. He was touted to eat 12,000 calories per day:
Take a look:
Their diet consisted of:
Breakfast: 3 pints of milk, cereal, half a loaf of bread, 6 eggs, half a pound of bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes and a can of beans.
Lunch: 2lb steak, 1lb of potatoes, 3 different green vegetables and a pudding.
Dinner: 1lb pasta, 1lb chicken, 3 different green vegetables and a fruit salad.
There we also snacks such as whole tins of pilchards, nuts and cheese.
His wife stated that she would be cooking from 7:30am until 8pm and then Geoff would help himself.
That is an incredible effort, a lot has changed since the 70’s and food acquisition is easier than ever now.
Geographically what is around you that can support you?
Which restaurants, deli’s and shops have food you enjoy and can support your healthy eating?
Just-Eat bring more than just pizza’s and kebabs.
Supermarkets have some incredible meals easy to reheat that are getting healthier.
Gousto, HelloFresh, Mindful Chef - these companies will deliver exactly what you need and teach you how to do it.
Meal prep companies exist, have you considered how much your time is worth, fetching, cooking, storing and preparing, prep might be cheaper and convenient?
It's not the knowledge that we're really missing, it's application.
I know some of you read this with some 'how obvious' moments but sometimes we forget that we know things.
We all have control in some way to align our environment to support us, it just takes that little bit of effort.
Change is ever rarely physically hard, always more mentally.