January is a great month to focus on eating right but most of us are busy following through on goals or resolutions and time can be at a premium. As a writer, I’m not stranger to time stress. Blame it on inattention, but when on deadline, I found myself eating badly. When you consider that at those times I am pretty much chained to my desk, you can imagine the results when I stepped on the scale. Since I’d like to be around to see my grandchildren grow up, something had to change.
It took a few years, but I taught myself to eat well even when in a rush. I think my tips can help you, but before I give them, let me just say change hasn’t happened overnight. In the interests of disclosure I must also confess that I gained a few pounds in December. I’m happy to report, though, that this year I gained a few less pounds than my norm, a sign that my healthy-eating focus is taking hold.
Maintaining a proportionate weight is one reason to adopt healthy eating habits, but the many benefits also include having more energy, fewer illnesses, nicer skin, less dental bills, and more restful sleep. Even if you don’t struggle with overeating, my tips may still help you. My disclaimer: I don’t mean this as advice but rather I’m sharing what works for me. If you need the advice of a nutritionist, you should seek it, and if you have food allergies, you’ll want to modify my suggestions for your needs. I’ve adapted my diet for healthy eating by:
- Plan menus in advance. Especially when I’m rushed, I don’t have time to think about what to make for dinner. Taking time out to plan meals is a relaxing activity for me, usually on a weekend day after breakfast. At the same time I make a shopping list so I’ll have the ingredients to my meals on hand when I need them. This saves runs to the grocery store for forgotten items.
- Leaving the potato chips in the store. I might tell myself I’m buying them for my family, but I will eat them in greater quantities than I should. I don’t need them for a party, either. Most guests thank me for serving them healthy party food, and even if they don’t, well…it’s my party. It’s easy to delude myself into thinking I will exercise self-control, but when it comes to foods that are my personal weakness, why put myself to the test? Sure, I can have them once in a while, put I need to choose my battles wisely.
- Keeping wholesome grab-and-eat foods on hand. I fill the empty space in my grocery cart from the chips I’m not buying with the original fast foods. You know, things like raw fruit, vegetables, instant oatmeal, nuts and nut butters, flatbreads and rice cakes.
- Avoiding soda. It’s rare for me to drink a soda nowadays, and then it’s usually one made from natural ingredients. Sure, they’re more expensive, but after saving myself both money and empty calories, I figure I deserve to splurge once in a great while.
- Limiting caffeine. This is one I’ve had to adopt out of self-defense because I’ve suffered bouts of acid reflux, which runs in my family, and most caffeinated beverages are acidic.
- Drinking more water. Water is my beverage of choice during long writing sprints. I make it more interesting by adding ice. Since I’ve started focusing on drinking more water, I’ve noticed an uptick in energy and an increased ability to focus.
- Having the ingredients to some quick meals on hand. When on deadline, it’s not uncommon for me to forget to thaw meat for dinner. At such times, a can of black beans combined with some salsa and grated cheese and lettuce on a tortilla saves me from the fast food line.
- Roasting meat and potatoes. This is one of my favorite tactics because it keeps my husband happy. Chicken is good for this, too, but it takes a little more time in the preparation. This meal works because I prepare it in quick stages I can manage when I get up from my desk to stretch my legs. First, I throw the roast in. Next the potatoes go in. After that, all I need to do is steam some vegetables. Or I can put everything together in one pot with some liquid, put it in the oven and forget about it until my timer goes off.
- Eating salads for lunch. Choosing the same item for lunch with variations means I don’t have to expend a lot of creative energy on deciding what to eat. I buy triple-washed salad mix in a huge tub and splurge on the kind of salad dressing you get from the refrigerator case. Fresh dressing is less likely to contain preservatives. I keep vegetables, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, nuts, and cheeses on hand to add to the greens and mix it up. If I’m particularly hungry, I can add a roll.
- Reading food labels. I don’t buy anything made with partially-hydrogenated fats (also known as trans-fats) or preservatives. There are other things I watch out for. I avoid certain oils and genetically-modified foods as much as possible. I base my food choices on a simple philosophy that has served me well for years now. I believe that God made foods right in their natural forms. Therefore, if something has been irradiated or gassed, I leave it in the store. I also prefer food items made with as few ingredients as possible. For instance, one container of peanut butter might contain an additive while another has just salt and peanuts. Reading food labels is in itself a healthy eating habit.
Where did I find the will power to change my eating habits? For me, a healthy case of bull-headedness kicked in when I reached a point of dissatisfaction that elevated my desire to change into a need. Or, as Tony Robbins famously pointed out, “change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”
Barnes and Noble Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wayfarer-janalyn-voigt/1117927074?ean=2940148860761
DawnSinger: A headstrong young princess and the guardian sworn to protect her fly on winged horses to the Gate of Life above the Well of Light in a desperate bid to release the DawnKing, and the salvation he offers, into a divided land. Will they each learn in time that sometimes victory comes only through surrender?
WayFarer: When an untried youth ascends to the high throne of Faeraven, his mistakes tear kingdoms apart and allow just one chance at redemption. He must humble himself before the man he banished.
About Janalyn Voigt
As children, my older brother and I would beg my father for bedtime stories, and he would give them. His deep voice rumbled against my ear at his chest as he unfolded stories of exotic places like Oz and Neverland. My imagination carried on with the tales even after he closed the book for the night. When eventually he stopped reading stories, I began creating my own.
Within a few years I’d become storyteller of my neighborhood. The other children would gather in a circle on our lawn while I invented stories to entertain them. No one, including myself, thought of this as anything unusual. It wasn’t until my sixth-grade teacher pointed out my ability to spin a tale that I and my parents took note. This is how at the age of twelve I decided to become a novelist. At it turns out, the fulfillment of that dream took a few more years than planned.
Find out more about Janalyn, her closet writing office, and her books at the author website for Janalyn Voigt