When I talk to people about eating clean, one of their main reasons for not taking it up is that they are too busy. We are a busy people. If we attend college, we have classes, jobs, study-time, party-time, time to go home and time for laundry. We think we’ll get to healthy eating habits when we are older. Well, then we get jobs, we get married, we have kids, and before we know it, we are headed toward retirement with high blood-pressure, diabetes and other chronic illnesses that a healthy diet could have warded off, or at least made manageable. So, now is the time—no matter where you are, or what you are doing. Now is the time to start eating healthy.
And since I’m a clean eater (or at least attempting to be), I’m going to tell you four of the best things for me that have helped me along the way. I have not “arrived” yet, but I’m much closer than I was a year ago.
Tip #1: Make the First Move and Don’t Concentrate on the Distant Goal
I contemplated clean eating for a long time—a very long time—yes, even years, before I actually started doing it. I went over all the reasons why I should do it. Then I went over all the reasons I wasn’t ready to do it. I contemplated, rationalized and psyched myself out for a long time. Then one day, I was at the grocery store and I decided to pick up a nifty container that would keep my clean eats cold. “This will help me eat clean,” I thought. Other than that thought, I didn’t think about what I was doing. I just decided I would fill that container with clean food that night—and I did!
When it comes to a life change, you first just have to make the decision (which I apparently struggled with for a long time), and then you have to make that first step, however small it may be, to make that change in your life. For me, buying a container was my first step. So, make the first move, whatever it may be for you, and don’t think beyond it.
Tip #2: Make an Investment and Buy a Container
With that said, I found that buying that container, and the grocery bike bag container (see tip #4) were the best investments I made to move towards healthier habits. There was two reasons for this. These worked for my psychological makeup; maybe they will work for you too.
First, it was an investment. Anytime I spend money, I don’t want it to be wasted. I don’t want to spend money on a fad, or just because something struck my fancy at that moment. So if I buy something, I intend to use it, and I make myself use it. I admit, I bought the container because I thought it was neat. But, I had been using a similar salad bowl container that I won in an event at work and loved it.
I had started eating more salads because of it and so, I invested $7 in my clean eating habits and bought the bowl. I’ve been getting better at clean eating ever since. Somehow, investing that little bit of money in a clean eating endeavor, and making that first small move was what I needed to get started.
Second, the container ended up being awesome. Between the salad bowl and the new container, which was a bowl/plate sort of thing, I now had two containers that supported my clean eating lifestyle. These containers were fun to fill, and they kept my foods cold on my bike commute to work. The container I got is sort of a plate/bowl style with a lid that you stick in the freezer. When you are ready to pack it, just take it out of the freezer, stick it on the bowl and you are ready to go! The other “container” I got was my bike grocery bag. Because I commute to work, it seemed essential to me to have this for my quick trips for fresh food at the closest grocery (see tip #3).
Tip #3: 15-90-Perimeter Rule
This tip is a combination of my own experience, and the advice of my brother, Noah (Noah writes his own blog on fitness, here). The first part is 15. This is 15 minutes. Part of clean eating is that you end up eating a lot more because you eat so many fresh fruits and vegetables. What I tend to do is make one or two tasty clean meals per week that will last me for several meals, and then the rest I eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and salads. Because it’s all fresh, you can’t buy too much at a time.
So, instead of driving through a fast food joint or stopping at the local coffee shop, spend those fifteen minutes at the closest grocery store. I do this in the morning. This works for my schedule because I can place some of the stuff in the refrigerator at work, and most of it will keep until I go home at lunch. Since I commute, I take my grocery bike bag with me in the morning, fill it up, and then go to work. Fresh grapes, apples, nuts, and the like all keep just fine in my grocery bike bag (not to mention, I don’t use plastic bags when I do this). You might need to do your shopping at the end of your work day if you don’t have a place to stash it until you can get it to your fridge. But really, if you want to do it in the morning, take the fifteen minutes and get stuff that’s fine without the fridge, or invest in a cooler bag.
The second part of this tip is the 90-perimeter part. My brother wrote in his blog that 90% of the food he eats comes from the perimeter of the grocery store. That totally made sense to me. The perimeter is where all the fresh produce is! So, think to yourself: 15-90-perimeter.
Tip #4: Fill the Container
You know that container I bought in tip #1? Fill it at night. Don’t worry if the food looks good to you when you are packing it. I’m sorry, but sometimes plain fruits and vegetables don’t sound so great to me. But when I’m in the office and I need something to eat, that fruit and those veggies are awesome! Especially since they are typically munchie food. And trust me, I munch, munch, munch all day long. If you work in a factory or some other setting, it’s the same concept. You may have to step away to take a break (I used to work in a factory and lived for the sound of the break bell!), but that’s ok. So just make it a habit to fill that container. If you don’t, you will surely be stopping at the vending machine and that’s usually not a place that supports a clean eating lifestyle.
So, there you have it! I hope this helps you. Is there anything that you do to help you eat clean (or just healthy)? Do you have any problems with finding time for a clean eating lifestyle?