Your Space Guides Your ChoicesJanuary is the natural time each year when we start to rethink and reflect about many areas of our lives. One that nearly always comes up is diet - not necessarily going ‘on a diet’ but simply thinking about what is included in our diet on a regular basis. It’s not unusual to think about reducing the manufactured and processed food-like items and increasing the real, whole foods for better health. Those are very beneficial thoughts - for sure! Of course, a common approach is to say to yourself, ‘For the next 30 days I’ll stop eating junk and focus on the real stuff. I’ll make sure I have lots of salads for lunch and eat only oatmeal for breakfast. I’ll even try to get the family to agree to adding a vegetable at dinner. Probably by then I’ll lose a few pounds and feel better. ‘ When the 30 days pass, chances are you DO lose a few pounds, your clothes feel less tight, and your energy level is improved. So you toss away the positive changes and go back to old habits. If your health is reasonably good, this works for a while -- until the creep begins and the few pounds you lost reappear. Or the stress of life gets in the way and your energy is drained as you keep walking on that same old treadmill of doing the same old things. One of the reasons it’s so easy to revert to old habits is that the space in which you live - and prepare your food - hardly changes from year to year. Let me explain:
- You decide not to eat junk for 30 days, but there are plenty of temptations in the pantry - a couple of bags of chips, some packages of quick dinners that require only a can of mushroom soup be added, frozen pizzas - you get the idea.
- You intend to increase the dark leafy greens in your diet but find they wilt or spoil in a few days in the fridge and you have no tools to change that. You’re not even sure what they might be!
- You are pretty sure the oils you use for cooking aren’t very good for you but - after all - you bought them and you should use them up before buying others, right?
- You probably should bake with some kind of whole grain flour, but that can wait until you run out of the white stuff.
- While you enjoyed eating better for 30 days, now it seems you just don’t have time any more. You mean to have healthy dinners but when you run into the house after a long and stressful day at work, pulling a pizza from the freezer is just easier. Maybe in another life....
OK, here’s the thing:Change - permanent change - won’t happen until you change your space. Living in the same food environment makes you incredibly vulnerable! You don’t have to have a gourmet kitchen with all the bells and whistles, but you DO have to have in your house the right foods and ingredients for preparing good foods as well as the tools required. That’s Rule #1. Rule #2 says you absolutely must get rid of any and everything that isn’t considered good for you if you’re serious about change. The j-u-n-k . . . Does that mean you can never ever have another indulgence?!? Heavens no. But it does mean it’s time to upgrade those indulgences to good quality ingredients, and toss the things you know will not help you to maintain weight loss, keep your blood sugar normal, eliminate cravings and get you started back down the path you want to avoid! Isn’t it wasteful to just throw things away? My thinking is that if it’s ‘poison’ to your body, it isn’t health food for someone else, so better to throw it out than give it to the local food pantry. However, if your conscience won’t allow you to throw it away, then donate it. Just get it out of your space so you can truly change your habits around food. Once you toss it, the next step is to fill your space with the good stuff. Not everyone likes the same things, but here’s a good ‘starter list’ of things to keep on hand to be sure you stay on track: Dark leafy greens Colorful vegetables onions and garlic organic apples frozen berries brown rice and quinoa nuts of all kinds nut butters seeds, including flax, chia, sunflower, pumpkin vegetable bouillon for soups organic eggs organic kefir and/or yogurt hummus, salsa and guacamole raw fruit and nut bars canned wild salmon teas organic popcorn (not microwave!) a variety of spices and condiments Add things like a salad spinner and some airtight containers in which to store those greens, the good chef’s knife you need to chop vegetables, and labels - so you know what’s what in the freezer. With just these simple tools, you’ll find it’s really not so hard to stay on track. By making a similar list for yourself, then checking it twice each time you shop, you can be sure your space is prepared for you to make the changes you’ve only dreamed of in the past. I’d love to hear what you keep on hand to make it easier to prepare healthy meals in your space!
top image credit.