It’s clear that nutrition is an important weapon when it comes to disease prevention and longevity. Yet too many people refuse to believe that what goes into their mouths every day has as much power to impact their lives as it does. Instead, they eat too much processed and fast food, missing out on the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants their bodies need to be healthy and fight disease.
Too often, when people do address good, nutritious food, they think about it more in terms of losing weight and fat rather than disease prevention and general health. They focus on such things as reduced calories and carbs rather than the equally or even more important ingredients in wholesome foods.
A common complaint I hear from people who are considering taking better care of themselves through nutritious eating is that it takes too much time and effort. Yet those same people seem to find the time and energy after they’ve been diagnosed with serious, often devastating, diseases and disorders. Perhaps it’s not that there isn’t enough time to focus on healthy eating, but that priorities are misplaced.
Being a busy person myself, I don’t want eating well to take any longer than necessary. If I can eat well and not spend a lot of time on it, I’m all for it. And that’s just what I like to show people: that they can eat nutritiously in less time than it would take to prepare a meal or go out to eat.
Many people think they’re saving time by going out to eat instead of preparing food at home. But going out to eat isn’t really much of a time saver when you consider how long it takes to choose a restaurant, drive to that restaurant (even if it’s a fast-food place), stand in line or wait for the server to take your order, wait for the food to be served, then drive back home.
Using the fast-food restaurant drive-through line isn’t much quicker, either. Have you noticed the length of the lines these days? What’s so fast about that? Considering the time people spend waiting in the drive-through line, wasting gas and money, it’s often quicker to park the car and go inside to order. Most fast food is bad for you, too, and all the sitting you do while waiting in the drive-through line only adds to health and obesity problems.
Unless cooking is a hobby, however, if you have a busy lifestyle you won’t be keen on spending a lot of time doing things in order to satisfy your hunger.
At the same time, many people are concerned about their health, weight and fitness and don’t feel good about eating convenience foods that are processed and lacking in nutrition. That’s where thinking positively and rationally comes in.
Consider these points:
• The more whole foods you include in your daily diet, the less time it’s going to take to eat well. Whole foods consist primarily of fresh vegetables and fruits. Many of these can be eaten raw in salads or by themselves, and others require little cooking.
• Modern kitchen appliances and gadgets, such as breadmakers and slow cookers, make any required cooking an almost mindless endeavor. Just throw the healthy ingredients in and walk away.
• You have to buy groceries whether you eat nutritiously or not, and eating nutritiously requires less time at the grocery store because you can skip all the aisles that sell nothing but low-nutrition products.
• It doesn’t take any more time to wash and cut nutritious foods than it does to prepare other, much less nutritious meals at home, and it certainly takes less time than dining out. That prep time can be really good for you, too. You can listen to or dance to music while you prepare the food, make it a more social task by sharing it with another person, or just consider the extra calories you burn by standing and cutting rather than sitting. Also, preparing whole foods is cleaner. It takes more time to clean greasy residue from fatty foods or raw meats.
Previously published in the Tampa Bay Times