This post is part of The Real Food Experience 2015. If you’ve been following the Experience since the beginning, you know that we’ve focused so far on two challenges – eating more fruits and vegetables and eating more whole grains. (If you haven’t joined us yet, there’s still plenty of time. Check out all the information on my Real Food Experience page.) And if you’ve taken on those two challenges, you may have found yourself thinking at some point, “I don’t have time to do this. We’re only a week into it, and I can’t keep up.” Which shouldn’t really surprise you because, as we discussed last week, the reality is that prepping and cooking real food takes time.
If you’ve come to that stark realization (or if you come to it later this month), I want to encourage you to do two things. First, make a plan, get organized, and learn some tips and tricks for making real food prep faster and easier. We’ll talk more about this next week, and I’ll share some tips for organizing and streamlining healthy cooking and eating. (In the meantime, here are some quick tips for preparing real food, to help you get started.) Second, and this is the hard one, I encourage you to ask yourself three questions. The answers may help you address the problem of finding time to cook, serve and eat real food. Here are the questions:
- What are my priorities for this year? What are the things you want to focus on or achieve this year? Have you set goals or made resolutions? If so, they probably reflect your priorities. Once you’ve identified them, write them down. If you’ve already written them down, refer back to your list. Is eating more real food one of them? If it is, then the next two questions can help you make that priority a reality. If it isn’t, you may find it difficult to find the time to eat more real food this year. If eating real food and feeding it to your family are important to you, consider revising your goals or resolutions to include those priorities.
- Is a schedule of activities controlling my life and the life of our family? Many women find that their entire life is controlled by the family’s schedule, particularly the children’s activities. They find themselves racing from one activity to another, with little time to think, plan or rest. Life is go go go, sometimes 7 days a week. And often they have nothing left to devote to things that require a small investment of time and energy, such as eating real food, exercising, or getting enough sleep. If you find yourself in that situation, you may not have time to embrace a real food diet until you address it. Think about your schedule, and talk with your husband. Work together to create a schedule that works for your family, rather than controls you. Let go of things that don’t add to your marriage or family life and embrace the things that do. It may mean letting go (at least for a time) of some things “you’ve always done” or “everyone’s doing.” Until you make those changes, it may be difficult to find the space in your life to cook and eat real food.
- Do I need to say “no,” “no more,” or “not now?” Sometimes, in order to focus on new priorities for a new year, we have to learn to say no. And that’s hard for many women to do. I know it is for me. Most of us would rather help people and make sure things get done. But sometimes that tendency keeps us from doing the things that are most important to us, because when we say yes to one thing, we say no to something else. I recently said no to a project someone asked me to do, because saying yes to that project would have meant saying no to several of my priorities this year. This was a project I would have enjoyed and would have helped a person I like to make happy – and I would have made some money too! But it would have taken a lot of time, and it just didn’t fit with my priorities for 2015. If eating more real food this year is important to you, do you need to say no (or no more or not now) to something in order to free up time to actually make it a priority? Give that some thought this week, and talk about it with your husband. If he’s anything like my husband, he’ll have some good ideas about things you might need to say no to, in order to say yes to more important things.
Beginning with my next post for The Real Food Experience, I’ll be focusing on tips and strategies you can use to make real food prep and cooking faster, easier and less stressful. But if you don’t have any room in your life for eating well or otherwise taking care of yourself, those strategies won’t do you much good. If that’s the case, give these 3 questions some thought, and identify some changes you may need to make.
Is it difficult for you to make time for real food in your life? Have you had to revise some of your priorities to make that happen, or are you still struggling to figure it all out? Please share your thoughts in the Comments – I would love to hear from you.