Food blogger Megan Gilmore's second book, No Excuses Detox, focuses on making healthy eating easier with 100 affordable, quick-to-prepare recipes and tips on how to get over our biggest excuses for not eating healthfully. Here, Megan shares the five most common barriers to eating well she's identified in No Excuses Detox: 100 Recipes to Help You Eat Healthy Every Day.
There are five most common excuses I hear from my readers and nutrition clients when it comes to not eating well on a regular basis. Many of them might sound familiar to you, too.
Excuse 1: I don't have enough time.
Not having enough time is by far the most common excuse out there, and with good reason. As a society, we are busier than ever, and cooking healthful meals from scratch can certainly be more time-consuming than picking up a prepared meal on the way home from work or heating up a frozen pizza.
Here are a few easy tips to squeeze healthy eating into your busy schedule.
- -Seek out speedy recipes.
- -Make good use of your freezer.
- -Take advantage of healthful convenience foods.
The next time you think you're "too busy" to eat well, what you're really saying is that healthy eating isn't a priority for you at that moment. If you think about it, it would probably take you at least 20 minutes to get in the car and return home with food from a drive-thru window, so there's no reason you can't use that time more wisely to whip up a healthy and satisfying dinner that won't weigh you down. With all of the healthy and convenient options available, not having enough time is no longer a good excuse to sacrifice eating well.
It's true that fresh organic produce is more expensive than the conventionally grown variety and that pasture-raised animal products are more expensive than factory-farmed animal products. However, that doesn't mean that healthy eating has to break the bank.
Excuse 2: It's too expensive.
Here are ways you can save money while eating well.
- -Stick to a meal plan.
- -Eat fewer animal products.
- -Keep it simple.
- -Shop seasonally.
When you start to make healthful eating a priority, you will most likely cut back on some other expensive habits, such as dining out often, buying triple-shot skinny-mocha lattes with whipped cream, eating greasy popcorn at the movie theater, or sipping overpriced cocktails. Improving your health now will likely mean fewer costly doctor visits for you in the future, too. Consider that even more reason to banish this "too expensive" excuse for good.
Excuse 3: My family is too picky.
Even if you're the only person in your home who wants to eat healthier, you shouldn't have to become a short-order cook. It may take time for everyone in your household to make the transition, but gradually introducing higher-quality foods and trying a new recipe each week is a great way to help your family establish healthier eating habits while expanding their palates. Make it a priority!
Try some of these easy ways to get started. The more consistent you are, the faster you'll see positive results!
- -Sneak in some green.
- -Bulk up your plate with veggies.
- -Keep healthful snacks in sight.
- -Make new and kid-friendly recipes.
- -Keep meals flexible.
I refuse to be a short-order cook, but I have no problem modifying a dish I'm already making to accommodate my family members. For example, my husband prefers to eat meat more often than I do, so I will add a precooked chicken breast to his portion to help him feel satisfied, while keeping my portion vegetarian. Or if he feels the need for more bulk when I'm serving a dish made with cauliflower rice, I'll use an individual portion of frozen cooked rice from our freezer to add to his plate. It's not much extra work on my part, and he's still getting a mostly vegetable-centric meal without feeling overwhelmed by drastic diet changes. There's no need to prepare an entirely different meal.
Excuse 4: I'm always on the go.
If you have to travel often for work, feel as if you're always in your car, or simply aren't around your kitchen much, you can still eat well on the go—as long as you make it a priority. Sticking to your healthy eating goals is more important than ever when you're on the go because your immune system is closely tied to your gut health. When you eat nutrient-rich foods, you'll give your immune system a much-needed boost and help reduce your chances of catching a cold, even if you're exposed to more germs than usual in a crowded dance studio, at a child's soccer game, or at a busy airport. (Be sure to get plenty of sleep, too.)
Here are a few on-the-go tips to help you stay well and on track:
- -Choose healthful portable snacks.
- -Make your own snacks.
- -Dine out wisely.
If you find yourself traveling often or dining out several times a week, those daily indulgences can quickly start to take their toll on your energy levels and overall quality of life. However, when you start to take care of yourself by using the previous tips, you'll feel better and you'll want to stick to your healthy eating plan. Start building up your momentum now because it does get easier the more you practice.
Excuse 5: I can't control my cravings.
Whether you're on a diet or not, it's totally natural to crave a sweet treat or salty snack every now and then. However, if your cravings feel out of control or start to occur more frequently, there could be a valid reason why.
The following issues might help you get to the bottom of your cravings:
- -You're not eating enough.
- -Your food choices are too restrictive.
- -You have food allergies or sensitivities.
One more thing that seems to stall people's progress
They don't know where to start. There's so much conflicting nutritional information out there that it's easy to stall simply because you don't know which approach to healthful eating is best. Is it the paleo diet? Or should you be vegan? The truth is, our society suffers from nutrition information overload, and the constant flood of conflicting studies and diet theories is enough to make your head spin. Don't use this confusion as another "excuse" to procrastinate changing your lifestyle habits. Instead, stick to what most experts agree to be true: Eat whole foods—with an emphasis on plants—as much as possible. It's hard to go wrong with that approach!
Megan Gilmore is the creator and recipe developer behind Detoxinista.com, a website that makes healthy living easier and more accessible, and the author of Everyday Detox. A certified health coach and certified nutritionist consultant, she trained at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and NHI College.