We’ve all been there- drawn in by the lure of the “next best” diet only to find ourselves overwhelmed by the time and resources required to make this big change. And, so we do nothing. What if there were some simple habits that you could complete in just a few minutes that would improve how you eat without a major overhaul?
Below you will find 5 ways that you can mindfully improve your diet in 5 minutes or less. This isn’t a gimmick, this is real life!
1: PLAN 3 DINNERS FOR THE WEEK
Time investment: 5 minutes
We have all heard the saying that “if it’s not there, you can’t eat it”. Well, this old adage works both ways- yes, if we don’t have junk food in the house, we can’t eat it but this principle goes for nourishing food as well. By taking a few minutes each week to plan just 3 dinners, you will ensure that you have healthy meals on hand. Just be sure to keep it simple and easy, especially if you are just starting out!
To make the fruit of your efforts multiply, cook a double batch of your selected recipes and have leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. If you are not a fan of repetitive meals, consider making freezer-friendly meals so that you build up your stockpile of grab-and-go meals!
2. GLANCE AT THE MENU BEFORE EATING OUT
Time investment: 3 minutes
I can recall a time that I went out to eat at a highly-reviewed seafood restaurant with friends and family only to be disappointed to discover that there was nothing but fried food on the menu. While it is rare to dine at a restaurant that has no hint of healthy fare, having an idea of what you are going to order ahead of time can make healthy choices a lot easier.
Before you arrive at the restaurant, take a moment to browse the menu and see what you would like to order. In many cases, this process will be pretty straightforward. However, there may be times that you don’t see quite what you would like. Feel free to piece together your meal with substitutions! For example, if you’d love some avocado on your salad, do you see avocado anywhere else on the menu? If so, chances are you can easily add what you’d like to your salad for a small upcharge. And, please, don’t feel bad for asking. Your waiter wants you to be a happy tipper!
3. PENCIL IN YOUR WORKOUTS FOR THE WEEK
Time investment: 3 minutes
One of the biggest barriers to regular exercise is TIME. Between daily demands and putting out fires, finding time to exercise can be a real challenge! We may plan on attending a yoga class after work or going for a walk before dinner but then life, it happens. While excuses are easy to come by, there is no denying that we really do want to make time for our health.
As with any endeavor that is important to us, scheduling is the key to getting it done. Each Sunday, take a few moments to look at your week ahead. Where can you fit in 3 solid exercise sessions? Are there any appointments or commitments that you need to move around to make time for you? Remember, we want to take our health seriously before we have serious health issues to worry about!
4. DO A MIND-BODY SCAN BEFORE EATING
Time investment: 1.5 minutes
Why do we eat? Well, I could rattle off a hundred reasons that I have seen in my own life and in the lives of others. Hunger, it’s rarely number one on that list. So how DO we avoid all of those non-hunger motivators that keep us unhealthy and unfit? The answer lies in finding out what is really going on.
When you sit down to eat, take a few moments to perform a quick mind-body scan. Feel free to have your eyes open or closed for this brief exercise. In your seat, take about 3o seconds to become more aware of your surroundings. Do you hear the sound of rain or others in bustling conversation? Is the room hot or cold? Is the air still or breezy? The purpose of noting the space around you is to get yourself out of your thoughts and into the present moment.
Now take 30 seconds and become aware of how your body feels. Do you feel light or heavy? Is your body sore and slouched or comfortable and upright? Are you hungry? If so, where do you feel the sensation to eat? Bringing your attention to your body brings awareness to any discomforts that may be causing you to seek comfort in food and connects you to your physical hunger cues.
Finally, take 30 seconds to pay attention to your thoughts and feelings. Is your mind racing or are you experiencing peace? Are you happy, sad, angry, or frustrated? Do your best to put a name to your emotion, even if you aren’t sure.
Invite Jesus in.By acknowledging your feelings you become more aware of why you are eating. Then we can decide if food is not what you need. Now, how will you prayerfully approach your plate differently?
5. WRITE A GRATITUDE LIST
Time investment: 5 minutes
Much to our surprise, our food choices can reflect a lack of gratitude in our day-to-day life. If we get caught up in what is going “wrong” we are much more likely to eat in response to those stressors and to look for a reprieve in food. By purposefully noticing those things in our lives which we are thankful for, we can train our minds to see less stress and more thankfulness. This creates an environment where eating for non-hunger reasons is much less appealing, as praise overshadows the desire to eat.
Also, if food is seen as the “only pleasurable” thing in our lives, it is going to be very difficult to leave those unnecessary bites behind. By taking special note of those items on our gratitude list that bring pleasure into our lives, we will start to see all that we truly have to enjoy. From the laugh of your child to the fragrant shampoo in a hot shower, there is so much to relish and appreciate when we look for it!
As you can see, there are many ways to improve your diet without driving yourself crazy over every detail of what you are eating. As you aim to make nourishing food choices, these are complimentary habits that will support your efforts with practical tips and also ways to cultivate mindfulness and self-awareness. If you feel stuck in how to muster up the energy to change your diet, start looking somewhere other than what is on your plate!
Brandice Lardner is the writer behind A Joyful Plate where she encourages others to ditch diets, eat well, and let your light shine. You can find her on Facebook and check out her beautiful pins on Pinterest!