So often I hear clients tell me that they just don’t have the time to eat well. Work is busy, they come home feeling exhausted, the kids are hungry, and they cope by heating up something from the freezer section of the supermarket. If this is a regular weeknight, how then to survive the additional activities and social gatherings of December?
The holiday season is something many of us look forward to with a little dread (if we’re honest). Our lives are already busy, and then we squeeze in work parties, children’s plays and pageants, shopping (if you celebrate Christmas), and before long, you can’t remember when you last purchased or ate a fresh vegetable. The stress and busy-ness take a toll on our bodies, and it is times like these that truly require us to utilize stress relieving techniques, to slow down at meal time, and to eat well. After all, finding the time to practice healthy habits in December makes easing into the New Year much easier. You can avoid the annual tradition of cleaning up your act in January by staying on track through December!
Buying, preparing and cooking food from scratch can be a wonderful, family involved activity, but when life is really hectic there are some quality shortcuts to healthy eating. Our supermarkets are loaded with convenience food, catering to our busy lives, but have you noticed the convenience food in the salad bar area? Most stores are now offering trays of fresh, cut up vegetables ready for a quick stir-fry. Toss these vegetables with cubes of organic chicken, season with a little sesame oil and reduced sodium soya sauce, and serve on a bed of long grain brown rice - that you cooked in the morning while everyone was taking turns using the bathroom.
December is also the time of year when our ever-so-thoughtful co-workers love to share their family recipes and tempt us with Grandma’s shortbread. Nibbling on baking throughout December can add up to a lot of extra calories, sugar highs & lows, and a nutrient deficit at the end of the day. Don’t wait for a holiday party to pick up a veggie tray at the supermarket. If you really haven’t the time to chop some broccoli, cauliflower and carrots (and sometimes we don’t), then pick up a tray and pack these nutrient dense and calorie-wise vegetables into lunches & snacks. Consider sharing a tray with co-workers rather than spending hours baking – I’m sure at least some of them will thank you for it!
Salads couldn’t be easier with the bins of tender organic greens available. Throw them in a salad spinner, transfer to a pretty bowl, drizzle with a little vinaigrette, sprinkle with hemp hearts, chia seeds, and a few walnut halves and you’ve got a delicious, nutrient dense meal – within minutes! If you’re tired of greens, pick up a bag of broccoli slaw, add some diced red onion & grated carrot (you can even purchase these!), a little Asian dressing, and top with sliced almonds. It’s less expensive than anything at the fast-food outlet, and I would argue, much more nutritious!
If you need a protein boost through the day, enjoy some Greek yogurt or keep a couple of single-serve sized cans of tuna in your desk drawer – both of these options will keep you functioning much better than anything you’ll find in the vending machine, plus they will help to keep holiday sugar cravings at bay.
If there is a lull in your social calendar, take advantage of that time to whip up a big batch of homemade vegetable soup or chilli and freeze it in single serving sized containers. This will make kids and adult lunches easier when the rush hits and your energy wanes. Check the Recipes section on the Natural Food Pantry website for some great ideas!
Eating well can be quick and the benefits cannot be overstated, especially when we’re stressed and exhausted. Fuelling our bodies with nutrient dense food is key to surviving the busy holiday season. Make time to enjoy a healthy meal at home, seated at the table with people you love, being thankful for the food, the company and even the busy-ness – we are blessed in so many ways!
Written by Judi McLaren, a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who manages our Westboro location. Judi loves kale and hopes to inspire others to include this nutrient-rich winter vegetable into their meals. Check out her Kale and Mushroom with Quinoa recipe.