I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the busier my life gets. There’s always something that needs doing and I often find myself double and sometimes even triple booked with commitments. Spare time is a luxury these days.
And that’s ok. I’d much rather be occupied with plenty to do than sitting around waiting for life to happen. And a lot of it is my own choosing, for example my blog and the amount of exercise I do and of course fitting in friends when I can.
It has however made my elimination diet very difficult at times. Gone are the days of finishing work late and grabbing take out on the way home, there’s no stopping off at the dairy or servo for a quick snack on the way to an engagement anymore I have to account for everything I eat and make sure that I’m prepared for it.
The montgs before I started this diet, I just wanted to eat healthy. But when life got in the way the first thing to go out the window was healthy food. Because unfortunately, it often takes more effort to have something healthy than grabbing something readymade from the shops. Because I wanted to eat healthy I would always berate myself for this, but I’d still cheat again the next time I was busy. It was a vicious cycle.
I knew that with the elimination diet there was absolutely no cheating, so I had to make a plan that would work for any unexpected situation. I’ll admit there have been a couple of times were Zombie has talked me out of a cheat meal. Once was the day of my panic attack so I think the thought of it was semi justified. I’m glad he talked me round though. And I’ll also admit there have plenty of occasions when the thought of cheating on my diet has crossed my mind, usually at the end of a long busy day, but because I’ve planned ahead, I do have some quick and easy options for those days that I can’t be bothered.
Obviously my elimination diet is a lot more intensive than just eating healthy, but the same preparation principals can be applied to eating a balanced diet.
The very first thing I did, was make a meal plan. It was handwritten and messy, but it was thorough and that’s what was important. And I was the only person who needed to see it so who cares what it looks like. I wrote down each day, each meal and then what I was going to eat:
I did this for the entire week. I also added in an extras section. I never know when I’m going to feel hungry unexpectedly and having something healthy on hand for the occasion has stopped me from rushing to the vending machine. The meal plan is a guide line. I don’t have to stick to it directly and I often pick and choose the days and meals when I feel like it. Having it as a base to work from, however, has made the last sixteen weeks a whole lot easier for me. I make a new plan every week.
The next step is making my grocery list. From my meal plan I know what I’m going to eat, so making a grocery list from this is easy. I make sure to get more than I need so that I can also have leftovers, for those times that I can’t be bothered cooking. Leftovers have become my saving grace, I often freeze them or take them for lunch the next day. A meal that’s already prepared is a great way to stick to healthy eating.
After the groceries are done, I meal prep. Meal prep is probably the most essential part for me sticking to my diet. I love being in the kitchen so it’s not a chore for me either. Every Sunday I spend most of the afternoon cooking and I love it.
However I know that a lot of people don’t have that kind of time, or the desire to spend that long in the kitchen, so meal prep is unique to the individual. You can make it as simple or complex as you like and as much or as little as you like. The point of the exercise is to have ready made food on hand that can be grabbed on the go.
I usually write a list of all the things I need to make and cross it off as I go. I like to have all my breakfast and lunches sorted (except for smoothies) and I make extras in case I have a lazy day. Dinner I usually make at the time but I sometimes make sauces and sides during meal prep so that cooking during the week becomes simpler too.
Containers and snap lock bags have become furniture in my fridge and freezer. Everything is portioned out, put into a container and then stored for when it’s needed. Some people go as far as per cutting their veggies for dinner and snacks during meal prep and storing them too but I’m not one of those people.
Once my meal prep is done, I have no excuses for cheating on my diet. I still can if I want to, but that’s completely on me if I do. I think we use excuses like, ‘I finished work late and couldn’t be bothered cooking’ to justify unplanned cheat meals to ourselves but at the end of the day the only person we are fooling and affecting is ourselves. Especially if we are prepared.
My freezer and fridge are usually packed with readymade foods that Zombie and I can grab and go. There are times it runs low but I try to avoid that with weekly meal prep. There are some Sundays that I can’t be bothered prepping, so on those days I make it light. Cheesy Egg cups only take 5 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to cook and that’s a whole week of breakfasts, done. This is another reason why I always make sure I have leftovers, so that meal prep doesn’t have to be such a daunting task.
Cheesy Egg cups, beat eggs in a bowl and add veggies of choice. Divide into a muffin tin, top with cheese and bake for 15 minutes at 180℃
At the end of the day, it’s up to you what you want to eat. If you want to eat healthy, make a plan and do it. If you want to eat whatever you want, whenever you want that’s ok too, as long as you are happy that is the important thing.
Smiles and Sunshine