(Taught by a novice, at best)
This post was initially going to solely be about healthy eating on a busy schedule, but I realized that none of this was really about eating healthy. It has all been about gaining Control of my own life, and making decisions that positively impact my present and future. Thanks for reading.
I have been “pre-diabetic” since I was 18. I’ve always been overweight by medical standards, and I’ve never really been exceptionally fit.
My last two pregnancies (with little brother, and baby bug…she’s new, I’ll tell you all about her later!) were met with gestational diabetes. My mother and father are both diabetic, and I’ve always blamed genetics for my predisposition to have diabetes. I guess i just figured that it wouldn’t be my fault if I became diabetic someday. I was kinda like a ticking time bomb, giving into the fact that it was going to happen someday. I was just waiting for the bomb to explode.
When I had gestational diabetes, I was taught to monitor the amount of carbs I ate. I was told not to cut them out completely, but to reduce the amount I ate. My doctor wanted me to increase my protein and fat, because those are the things that help lower the impact of the sugar in the carbs. The result of all of this was that I ate all of the protein and fat, and almost none of the carbs. When my blood sugar was good enough, I ate a bunch of dark chocolate, followed by more protein and fat to “balance it out”.
I’d say that this balancing act mentality is one that I’ve always had, until now. In every area of my life…everything has been a balancing act. Talk about feeding my anxiety! I have to be nice, but not too nice. I have to look good, but not too good. I have to be liked, but not enough to build deep and meaningful relationships…and god forbid someone actually get through that barrier! Then there are a million more things to balance. If I don’t they’ll leave me (and tell everyone that I care about how awful I am).
I have let external, unpredictable things, control me my entire life! Not anymore. I decided to start with gaining better control of my heart and mind. I started with tackling the lies that I thought about myself about two years ago. I’m still on that journey, but with it has come reworking how I see others, and dropping my judgment mentality. It has also been accompanied by exercising (which is a HUGE reality check when you’re trying to gain control of yourself).
Once I started feeling good postpartum, I decided that it was finally time to tackle the food balancing act. I stopped skipping meals because I was busy, because it always resulted in me binging on whatever I could get my hands on (usually goldfish and cheese sticks). I stopped choosing higher fat options. I’ve dramatically reduced the amount of dairy that I eat (because it has always made me sick, and it has always been my favorite!). I started being more rigid about eating whole grains (I used to feel like eating a piece of whole wheat toast as a snack between my white bread meals was a healthy decision. Now I just replace any white carbs with their whole grain alternative. Honestly, I don’t like them as much, so this has resulted in eating fewer carbs all around). And I’ve incorporated much more fruits and veggies, which I love, I was just too busy to eat them before.
So here’s the how to
I’m no expert! Hear me when I say it: I fail all the time, but this has been my most successful method of eating healthy when I just don’t have the time.
I make the time for it! I prioritize it over other things. I sometimes even put it before other needs, like sleep. In the unlikely event that all three of my kids are asleep, I want to nap! On those days I used to grab a granola bar and call it lunch. Now I go back downstairs and prep some veggies to have on hand, or I sit down and think about what I’ve eaten so far that day, and make a plan for the rest of the day. I make sure that I’m getting enough protein, fat, carbs, and enjoyment from my food,without overdoing it.
This doesn’t mean that I cook all day and ignore my three wild kids. It means that I include them in the process when I can, and I do the rest when they’re not around.
How I prepare
So there’s this huge movement in meal prep these days, or batch cooking so you can always have a healthy meal on deck without having to pull out a frying pan and stand at the stove for thirty minutes. I love this idea! I think it’s brilliant to cook enough to have some later, but I get bored, so instead of cooking a lot of the same meal to have later, I ingredient prep. I cook (or cut) a lot of the same ingredient to have later, then I store it in the fridge and mix and match as I like.
Some things that I’ve kept on hand in the fridge are ground turkey and chicken, cooked and ready to go, sliced bell peppers, sauteed and raw, sliced cucumbers, sliced onion, homemade tomato sauce, sliced sweet potatoes (which can be quickly cooked in the toaster and topped with your favorite toast toppings), whole grain pasta, brown rice, chicken breasts, heaps of spinach and romaine, prewashed and chopped… Having these on hand allows me to make a healthy,well rounded meal in just a matter of minutes. I just pop it in a bowl and heat it up in the microwave if I need to.
I don’t work outside of my home right now, but I imagine that this would be possible to do if I did. I’d try to wake up a few minutes early and pack a lunch instead of picking up something at a drive through.
Eating this way has made it easier to get everything that I need in order to feel healthy. It’s also super helpful to have prepared ingredient on hand when I do have the time to make a big meal for my family. I can just grab a handful of pre chopped veggies to toss in the pan with the meatballs or chicken breast that I’m grilling!
Preparing to prepare
This is definitely the hardest part! Preparing to prepare can be daunting, and it seems expensive in the beginning until you realize how much time and money you’re actually saving.
What I do is make a plan. I open the fridge, freezer, and pantry, and take inventory of what I have. Then I sit down and make a list of Staples that we need. Things on my list every week are cucumbers, bell peppers, oranges, apples, bananas, nuts, ground meat, wheat chex (I make a check and nut medley every week. It’s a good filling snack when I’m craving chips), grapes, grape tomatoes, frozen fruits, romaine, fresh spinach, and turkey pepperoni, milk, cashew milk (and usually nuggets and waffles for the boys). Then I think about dinners for my family and add ingredients where needed. I typically add some type of cheese to the list (so the boys and I can make a pizza), and a few types of meat (roast, chicken breast, smoked sausage)
I end up spending a lot of money in the produce and meat sections (like $80) and then another $20 or so on things like cereal and goldfish, snacks for the boys, and dried goods.
I typically spend between $90 and $120 each week, depending on what we need to supplement our fridge and pantry.
Eating this way, or ingredient prepping, has saved us so much money on frozen foods that are just as quick and easy to grab and heat up. My stomach is upset much less often. The kids and I are eating far more veggies, and fewer empty calories. As a result, were more able to focus, more energetic, and less grumpy.
I don’t deprive myself when I want a cookie or a salty snack, I just require myself to make it. I get the boys hands washed, and give each of them a mixing bowl. We get out all of the ingredients and make a batch of cookie with healthier ingredients. If I want a cookie badly enough to go through all of that, then I deserve the dang cookie lol.
Eating healthy is not easy, but blaming everything else for not eating healthy is.
I still have anxiety. I’m still fluffy. I’m still tired a lot of the time. Our life is still organized chaos. My house is still a mess. The kids still scream from time to time. Eating healthier doesn’t fix everything, but it makes me feel good, and it gets rid of the balancing act!
What do you do to eat healthy? What are some of your tips and tricks?