March 4, 2018
“Control your environment” is a concept I commonly use with clients to help them address perceived hurdles to healthy eating which consequently impairs progression towards their goals.
What do I mean by “Control your environment”?
This basically refers to planning ahead and foreseeing any time or physical constraints that may influence your availability to access desired nutritious foods. (For example, having to stay late at work unexpectedly and left raiding the vending machine or picking up takeaway on the late drive home). We aren’t always able to sit down comfortably at designated times and eat main meals and snacks. I often hear people say that they forget to eat or don’t have time to eat, and while I don’t doubt that these people are incredibly busy – I feel that we can make improvements to this scenario if they place healthy eating as a high priority (if someone stole your pet or family member and said “eat breakfast every day this week and I’ll return them safely” – I’m pretty damn sure you would make time to eat breakfast that week).
Unfortunately like most things worth doing, it isn’t always easy – at least initially, but with time it becomes routine and how you operate on a daily basis.
Let me be a little more specific and run you through some ideas to help you control your environment:
1) Plan. Not a ground-breaking start here I know, but believe it or not, it works. Spend 10 minutes of an evening to sit down and figure out what the following day is going to involve and work out which meals and snacks are going to be possible. Perishable products are often the healthiest, but they are also the most problematic when on the move (more on this soon). Planning ahead and leaving little to chance is a common feature for people who are successful with their nutrition goals.
2) Convenient Snacks. Meetings, work travel, delays – are all occasions where having a backup convenient snack on or nearby you (hand bag / car / desk draw) is useful. I’m being realistic about this, pulling out a boiled egg and some kale chips to scoff down in the middle of an important meeting might not always be appropriate, but more often than not you will be able to somehow sneak a cheeky quick snack when the next meal is many hours away. Once you’ve had that snack, you are likely to be more useful now that your mind isn’t wandering off contemplating how hungry you are. Snacks could include: air popped corn, small packet of raw nuts, fruit, and multigrain crackers. For those who prefer less packaged foods, pre made homemade bars/protein balls can be manageable as well.
3) Storage. Fridge space can be at a premium, or work involves constantly travelling to different locations. I’m not going to win any fashion awards saying this, but having yourself a portable cooler bag increases the healthy food options plenty. E.g natural yoghurt, salads, premade smoothies, frittatas, animal derived proteins, dinner leftovers etc. I’ve often joked and said there should be a company which makes handbags containing discrete cooler bag like sections for busy woman and that all important snack. Typically speaking, foods which need to be stored in a fridge are a healthier for you.
4) Food Staples. This refers to the foods that you can have in the house that allow you to eat well when you are pressed for time and all the other plans go to sh*t. E.g. bread, milk, eggs, tinned vegetables/legumes, tuna, frozen steam fresh veg, microwave rice. If you get seriously caught out after work it takes about 3 minutes to throw together a tin of tuna, microwave rice, steam fresh veg and some herbs/sauce of choice. Maybe it’s not the most appealing of meals and I’m definitely not saying to eat this every night, but the co$t is less and it will take you less time to prepare than getting to a takeaway store and back. Plus it contains low g.i carbs, protein, healthy fats, and vegetables – sounds too easy now doesn’t it!! Moreover, when you wake up the next morning you are going to feel a whole lot better than after a bucket of fried something.
Article by Andrew Hall, accredited sports dietician at Apple to Zucchini in Brisbane.