This new year, take “I’m too busy” out of your vocabulary for healthier body and mind, and dive with your whole self into a richer life.
“Oh my goodness, how are you?” an old friend squeals when I see her at the store recently. “Busy,” I reply with my default answer. “Oh I knoooowww, we’re so busy, too,” she says, rolling her eyes; both of us using the word “busy” like we won some kind of prize for how great our lives are. My newsfeeds declare: “Busy is the new normal”, “Busy is the new happy”. Studies show that stress plays a role in so many real health consequences: anxiety, insomnia, stomach pain and weight gain just to name a few.
This new year, join me in resolving to take back our health by not letting “busy” justify nourishing our bodies with artery-clogging, high calorie, low nutrient, dense food. We have the power to choose how we fill our time and what we fill our bellies with. The food you eat is broken down into building blocks for new cells, for the production of new muscle tissue, for recovery, and for every biological process that makes us work and affects our aging. Let’s choose those building blocks with intention.
Join me this year in taking back what we fuel our bodies with because we quite literally are what we eat. Here’s how we are going to do it:
Planning! Have good stuff on hand. Meal and snack planning is worth your time, and if you want to be healthier in 2016, it is not optional.
- Make sure you always have healthy snacks on hand at home. Always have a fruit basket, nuts, hummus, yogurts, cup of soups and pre-made bars, so when you get hungry and you need something to grab it’s already there.
- Have pre-washed greens in your fridge at all times. They can be thrown in salads, in soups, or paired with a frozen veggie burger.
- Quickly sketch out an outline for your most challenging meal. Make a list of the key components. It can be on the back of an envelope or on your phone. Just enough information to make sure you have a few key ingredients on hand at home. For example:
Now, at the store you know you need at least veggies, greens, lentils, beans, bread and pasta.
Technology can be awesome; let’s use it! There are lots of websites that will meal plan for you and even deliver pre-made meals right to your door. On your busiest day, have Thrive Foods Direct send your meal right to you. Here are my favorites:
A slow cooker/crock pot will save your life.
Every one of the meals listed in the chart above can be made in a slow cooker (some recipes are on my website). Beans, lentils and peas are longevity foods, according to the Blue Zones Project; plus, they have protein, iron and fiber. They can be thrown in the slow cooker in the morning, and by evening you have dinner ready for you. They are an inexpensive and health-promoting source of protein and go in many different dishes from Tex-Mex to Mediterranean to Indian.
Let your freezer make your life easier.
Make large batches of beans, peas and soups, and then freeze in small glass containers like Pyrex or even mason jars. Stock up on frozen veggie burgers, edamame, peas, corn and whole grain breads like Udi’s Millet Chia bread.
Invest in a good blender.
Get in the habit of making smoothies at least two times per week. Use almond milk (a good source of calcium and vitamin D), Swiss chard leaves, frozen berries and chia seeds for a calcium rich but plant-based snack. I throw nuts and seeds in the blender to thicken it up and to provide protein and healthy fats.
Have premade snacks ready to go.
Try the Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods brand. They are meals in a cup that can be heated in one minute, cost less than $2/serving and are delicious and healthy.
Buy or make hummus and use it as a dip for veggies every day. Use it as a quick dressing for kale salad by massaging hummus and lemon juice into the kale, and done! Have storebought or homemade bars with you every day. I like the Kind bars, Bobo’s Oat bars, Lara bars and Barre bars. I also have recipes for no-bake almond oat bites on my web site, www.dancernutrition.com.
I’m done with the glorification of busy in place of a healthy lifestyle. Let’s make healthy eating a priority this year!
By Emily C. Harrison MS, RD, LD of Nutrition for Great Performances.
Emily Cook Harrison MS, RD, LD
Emily is a registered dietitian and holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nutrition from Georgia State University. Her master’s thesis research was on elite level ballet dancers and nutrition and she has experience providing nutrition services for weight management, sports nutrition, disordered eating, disease prevention, and food allergies. Emily was a professional dancer for eleven years with the Atlanta Ballet and several other companies. She is a dance educator and the mother of two young children. She now runs the Centre for Dance Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org