I often get asked how to get started with this healthy eating thing. At first, it seems so daunting when you think about making a lifetime commitment to eating whole, real food. We've gotten so accustom to getting food conveniently ready-made, that its daunting at first. But I am a huge fan of breaking things down into simple steps and making a single change at a time. If you keep doing enough of those simple changes, before you know it, your entire lifestyle is changed and you barely notice!
A "simple change" example is taking lunches to work/school rather than eating at the cafeteria or going out to eat. My husband works at a large corporation that provides a cafeteria and all sorts of catering at meetings, etc. While that is convenient, we both knew that it was effectively like eating at a restaurant every day. And most restaurants are not particular about the kinds of oils they use to cook with, or where they source their ingredients from. So we knew that he's been eating more inflammatory foods and risking gluten exposure each day.
Recently we decided that we would work together to pack lunches for him. We wanted it to be easy, so we brainstormed together on how we'd do it. Long gone was his Scooby Doo lunch box from childhood, so he researched what kind of container he wanted to take with him to work. And I studied Nom Nom Paleo's lunchbox series to get ideas for what food packs well. But of course we didn't wait for things to be perfect before starting. So here are the steps we took to keep this transition simple.
1. Start with Whatcha Got! - We started with meal leftovers in our current storage containers. The transport "system" was a bit bulkier than we wanted, but it was a start. We had a small reusable grocery bag and used that to carry everything.
2. Plan Extra Food for the Week - We now are cooking 98% of our meals out of our home. And adding another 5 meals for him, meant we had to plan a little bit extra with our weekly trips to the Farmers Markets and stores.
3. Make Extra at Meals - We didn't want to increase the amount of time we were spending in the kitchen. So we decided we'd make extra at dinner and assemble during our breakfast routine. So even though we weren't eating broiled zucchini layered with prosciutto or Spicy Tuna Cakes at that night's dinner, we made them at the same time to have them ready to go. No extra time in the kitchen!
4. Make Small Improvements Over Time - Eventually, my husband's chosen LunchBots arrived and we were able to start packing his lunches in those. They make a really great system of lunchbox, carrier and condiment containers. So when they arrived, we could make the transport system much more efficient and compact.
5. Make it a Team Effort - Projects are much more fun when you have a team of people, than slogging through them alone! My husband and I worked together to figure out what kind of food he wanted to eat during the last few weeks of lunches and making it fun by packing in some of his favorite berries, or snacks.
Pictured above is what he took to lunch today. We've got cucumber boats with roast beef, over a green salad. There's dressing in a little condiment container. Plus, a small jar of blackberries and a protein packed muffin roughly based on this recipe. I'll have to work on cooking them flatter so they fit and don't have to be cut in half to fit ;) Small steps, right?
What kinds of small, simple changes are you doing to transition to a healthier lifestyle? I'd love to hear from you so leave a comment and let me know!