A recent report has revealed that on average, 84.8 million U.S adults consume fast food on any given day. To put this alarming statistic into perspective, that is more than a third of all American adults.
Are you shocked? Probably not.
Life is hectic nowadays. You may be working long hours, struggling to juggle a family and your career, or maybe you always put everyone else first and give little time into caring for your own well-being.
Whatever the reason you find you turn to the junk food, you need to know that you can eat food that is good for your mind and body even when you are pushed for time, and money.
In fact, eating healthy food can easily be more cost-effective than fast food if you go about it the right way.
Vow to change
Depending on how much you rely on fast food, it can be challenging to accept that you are going to change your diet and your lifestyle, and even more difficult to break any bad habits that you have formed over many years.
The first step you need to take is to make a promise to yourself that you are actively going to make changes to the way you eat. These may be small changes at first, but nevertheless, you will be making them and sticking to them.
It requires a little bit more work at the start, but you will save both time and money in the long run, as well as improving your health. Just 15 minutes each week is enough for you to sit down and plan out what you are going to eat for the week ahead.
Ask yourself if you have a particularly busy week at work? Do you have after school commitments? How much time are you going to have each day to cook your meals?
If you know that on one day you are not going to have time to cook, then you know you need to have leftovers or a healthy pre-packed meal in the fridge that you can heat up quickly.
Not having a meal plan in place is a sure-fire way to you succumbing to ordering a last-minute takeaway or jumping in your car to the nearest fast food outlet.
Maybe not what you want to be doing on a Sunday, but if you want to invest in your health, then you need to make sacrifices. Preparing a set amount of meals in bulk can save you an absolute fortune, and it means you will always have a healthy and nutritious meal in the fridge or freezer.
Tomato and vegetable sauces can be made in large quantities and can be used for so many different meals such as spaghetti bolognese, stews, casseroles and curries to name but a few.
You can also pre-prepare vegetables and fruit by cutting them up, labeling them and storing in the fridge or freezer until needed- saving you time when you come to cook in the evening.
Stock up on quick and nutritious snacks
These can either be homemade or purchased from your local convenience store and can include foods such as:
- Sliced up veggies – carrot batons, cucumber slices, peppers, celery sticks
- Easy to eat fruits – apples, bananas, berries
- Proteins – edamame beans, sliced cheese (vegan varieties available)
- Nuts (unsalted) – almonds, walnuts, cashews, nut butter
As a nation of ‘snackers,’ this step is crucial as there is no point planning healthy meals and then ruining all your hard work by eating processed, unhealthy snacks.
Don’t be afraid to experiment
You don’t want to get into the habit of relying on the same healthy foods and meals every week as this is the easiest way for you to become bored of your new regime and slip back into old habits.
Instead, keep your meals (and cooking them) exciting by experimenting with new ingredients, flavors, and textures. Even if you are not the greatest cook in the world, or the most confident, you shouldn’t be afraid to try out new dishes or recipes.
You can always feed them to the dog if no-one else will eat them!
Steer clear of negative influences
Obviously, you cannot stay away from your husband or children, even if you find them secretly snacking on a burger and fries, but you can remove yourself from unhealthy situations at work or when out and about socializing.
Is there always someone in the office who brings in unhealthy snacks for everyone to share? Most offices have someone like that!
Don’t feel guilty about saying no to these treats; simply explain that you are changing your life for the better and are avoiding foods that make you feel rubbish.
At home, you can also use your newfound knowledge to influence those around you. Share what you have learned about healthy eating, ask your children to help you cook a meal or experiment with a new ingredient.
Bad habits are hard to break, and change can be tough, but stick with it, and you will see the benefits. Remember – your health matters!