The alarm goes off and you push the snooze button. Just 10 more minutes of sleep. Ten minutes later, you do it again. Next thing you know – you only have 20 minutes to shower and get dressed for work. Panic stations!
No time for breakfast, so you rush out the door and grab a cup of really bad coffee and horrible fast food at the drive-through on your way to the office.
Of course, you never had time to make lunch the night before, and your morning was a write-off, so you grab a quick bite at the deli down the block and eat it on the fly.
Or, you don’t even have time to go out, so you order lunch in and have it delivered. Nothing healthy there – white bread, processed meat, limp lettuce, and something that looks like it might have tried to be a tomato…but didn’t quite succeed.
The end of the day comes and, aside from 4 cups of coffee, you haven’t had a drop of water to drink. You’re feeling a huge drop in energy and you are starting to get the shakes – time for a quick chocolate bar for a boost before getting into your car to face the traffic.
You finally walk in the door at 7 PM. You can’t face cooking dinner and there’s nobody else there to do it for you. Or, your partner has had the same sort of day that you have, and you both look at each other and say – in unison – let’s get take away.
The end result is that you’ve eaten 3 meals that day but have taken in virtually no nutrition, nor have you done anything to improve or maintain your health.
Poor eating habits and not enough water – a recipe for disaster
Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired. Eight glasses of water a day is considered a normal daily intake.
Poor nutrition is the number 5 cause of stress according to the American Psychological Association. And it isn’t just a cause – it can also be the result of the number one cause of stress – job pressure.
People handle this sort of stress in many different ways. Some fight with their co-workers and loved ones; some have trouble sleeping; and some forget about the importance of proper eating habits.
Before I got married, I would often come home from work and just have a bowl of cereal and milk before heading off to watch the news and go to bed. I never cooked breakfast and always ordered my lunch in, because my job didn’t come with a lunch break – or morning or afternoon tea. I was on an 8-10 cup a day coffee habit, and if it weren’t for the gym 3-4 days a week, I would have never moved out of a chair.
Get off the merry-go-round
This malnutrition merry-go-round is hard to jump off, but you can do it, and the benefits for your body, your health, and your stress levels will be enormous.
It does take a little bit of planning but, believe it or not, it doesn’t take a whole lot of time.
Here are a few simple things you can do – many of which you’ve probably heard before – that can slow that wheel down enough for you to hopefully jump off altogether.
1- Shop mindfully. Don’t just go to the store and buy what looks good. Take 10 minutes before going out to think about your week ahead and write down at least 4 dinners you would like to make and write down the ingredients you’ll need for them. You will waste less and feel calmer knowing that you have that part of your week settled.
2- Make extras. For 15 years while my children were growing up, I made double and sometimes triple quantities of most meals. Then, I would either put the rest in the fridge for another night or, most often, freeze the balance in meal-sized portions for lunches or dinners down the track. It doesn’t take more time to cook extra but it does mean that you will be less tempted to buy processed rubbish if you’ve got your own, healthy ‘fast-food’ at home.
3- Salad, salad, salad! I can’t stress this enough. I go to the local farmer’s market every weekend and buy enough fresh veggies to make a beautiful big salad which we then eat throughout the week. It keeps well in a special container with a gridded bottom and we add bits and pieces to it so it never gets boring. We also vary the ingredients with the season so it’s always different. Lettuce, corn cut off the cob, sprouts, onion or shallots, capsicum, tomato, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower – the list goes on. My husband will take a container for lunch and add some dressing and nuts and perhaps a bit of left-over meat from dinner the night before. Filling, nutritious and cheap – a true trifecta!
4- Buy your own personal water bottle to use at home and at work. Drink water as you commute, on the job, while watching TV, reading etc. Most importantly, drink a large glass of water first thing on rising in the morning and just before you go to sleep at night.
There are many other ways to make sure you are getting proper nutrition which, in and of itself, can help reduce your stress levels. But these are a few to get you started, and all it will take is a little bit of time and some planning.
Below are a few resources you might find useful. Give it a try and please, let me know how you go with this.
For the Stress to Strength Team
Lunchbox Solutions – a downloadable and expandable ebook with a huge number of healthy, quick and delicious meals that you can take to work and your children can take to school. These are not your typical bag lunches – every one will delight your senses and satisfy your hunger.
60 Healthy Freezer Meals – This is just one of many, many websites where you can find information about make-ahead, then freeze cooking. Be careful with these recipes because many of them use unnecessary and unhealthy foods like canned soups and processed cheeses. But they are good sources of information about what will and won’t freeze well and how long frozen food can keep before losing taste and nutritional goodness.
Search Google for 30-minute meal recipes. You will be amazed at how many meals can be produced in less than 30 minutes, and once you have the recipes and have bought the ingredients, you won’t be quite so tempted to order in.
These ideas will save you time, money, decrease your stress, and enhance your health as well.