Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Baby-Step Towards Health - It's Not What You Think

A HUGE factor in determining your health is what goes into your body – the foods you eat and the beverages you drink.  Eating out, in nearly every instance, undermines your attempts at being a wise steward of your fork no matter how quick convenient it may be.  Foods prepared away from home almost always have more added fats, sugar and sodium – not to mention other weird chemical ingredients that you would never find in your pantry at home – than foods prepared in a personal kitchen.

Many people think that “getting healthier” involves making a drastic change, really quickly and then want really quick and drastic results.  Gastric by-pass, HGC/HGH or the Adkins Diet may seem appealing as a quick-fix, but what happens when the dust settles and “real life” begins again.  Unless you approach getting healthier in terms of creating healthy habits that can be sustained for life, you are doing nothing more than putting a band-aide on a gun-shot wound and what’s on the inside will eventually resurface again and again and again.

I work with my clients to create do-able baby-steps in their journey towards a full and healthy life.  Habits that become integrated gradually usually stand much better odds of lasting than those that you try to force into your life with a shoe-horn and giant rubber mallet.  The same can be true for those “bad” habits we just can’t seem to shake.  How many 2-pack-a-day cigarette smokers started off smoking 2 packs a day?  If presented with that option initially, many people would have said, “No thanks!  It’s too much!”, but now they have trouble imagining life without them.  Their habit came on gradually.

Gradual Changes = Lasting Changes

Yes, meal preparation takes some time and planning.  Yes, meal preparation can be intimidating – especially for “non-cookers”.  HOWEVER, cooking meals at home does not have to be difficult or frustrating, or consume MASSIVE amounts of time.  Having a few strategies in place is key.

One key strategy is preparing your environment.  The kitchen can be the heart of the home, but unfortunately it has become a neglected after-thought for many people.  In a few simple steps, you can transform your kitchen into the meal-preparation hub it was meant to be.

The first step to focus on is making room.  In one afternoon or evening you can accomplish this step toward radically transforming your kitchen in an amazingly simple and inexpensive way –
  • Go through kitchen cupboards and get rid of the random lids and lid-less containers you’ve been hanging on to “just in case”.  Are there plastic reusable containers with burn marks from one too many trips into the microwave?  Consider tossing them.
  • Scrutinize your pots-and-pans cupboard.   Do you have duplicates?  Are there 2 or 3 of the same sized pan, yet only one of them is used on a regular basis?  Most people store more pots and pans than they’ll ever use (do you really need 12 pots if you only have 4 burners on your stove or 6 casserole pans?).
  • Dishes can accumulate quicker than token tickets at Chuck-E-Cheese.  Sure, there might be lots of cute random bowls and plastic cups that you’ve accumulated much like a 3-D scrapbook of memories from various festivals, pizza parlors and picnics, but are they serving a purpose MORE than simply taking up valuable kitchen real estate?  Weed out what does not truly serve a purpose in those cabinets, possibly freeing up space for over-flow on your countertops.
  • Take a look at your pantry and spice cabinets.  Look at expiration dates and consider how long a package has been open.  Do you have duplicates of items you may never use up?  Is there a cereal that nobody liked but you can’t bring yourself to throw away?  Have little single-serving packages gotten lost under mounds of other random items?  Consider getting a clear plastic bin to store smaller items, like single-serve items for bagged lunches, all together in one spot for ease in the morning rush.  If you’ve got opened bags of flour and sugar, consider investing in some plastic canisters for airtight storage that won’t attract ants.  Buying beans, grains and nuts in bulk?  Pick up a box of canning jars for easy, attractive storage that allows inventory-at-a-glance.
  • If there are items that you are not using but just can’t bring yourself to pitch, consider donating them to your local Goodwill or pack them up and store them in your basement or attic for a year or so, to see if you are really going to use them.

Remember being a kid and being forced to finally clean up your room after it had gotten way out of control?  That sense of accomplishment – that pride – of YOU having mastered your domain was so empowering you envisioned diligently pouring over homework, hosting your friends for hours of chit-chat, finally having the space to create that special craft… the sky seemed to be the limit (even if only temporarily…).  You can recapture that feeling again – and then hold on to it – by taking charge of your kitchen and equipping yourself in the battle for your health as you create an environment that replaces chaos and frustration with joy and peace when you prepare your meals at home.

Elly Haddad is a certified holistic health coach and founder of Elemental Fit - a health coaching practice devoted to educating and equipping women to create balanced lives for themselves and their families.  She works with clients all over the United States in-person and via phone conducting one-on-one counseling sessions, corporate workshops, teleseminars and cooking classes.  Through improving overall health, her clients find success in conquering cravings, developing healthy eating habits, weight-loss, stress reduction and more.  

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Love your site, I have Afib. I know the things I am not supposed to have...I need some recipes for whole wheat bread.