It's Wednesday night and you've had a long, tiring day at work. You've already gone grocery shopping for the week; you have all the ingredients to make that Barefoot Contessa dish you've been eyeing on Pinterest, but you just can't bring yourself to cook it. So, you pour yourself a glass of red and browse options for takeout. So much easier right? After all, you have had a long day—Ina Garten can wait for tomorrow. Except that tomorrow still finds you stuck in the takeout cycle.
Getting stuck in a vicious 'quick and easy' and 'too tired to cook,' cycle happens to most of us, especially when slammed at work, traveling for business or leisure, or when in a downright funk. If you're anything like me, you even hear your conscience telling you that cooking at home is the better option, but by then you've already committed to Pad Thai from your favorite neighborhood takeout spot.
Sure, running through a fast food spot for a quick breakfast before work might not be the worst thing every once and a while, but getting stuck in a food rut can wreak havoc on your body (and your wallet). Luckily, this bad habit is easier to fix than you think! Read on for for quick and easy ways to shed your food rut habits!
1. Recognize the problem, evaluate your habits and find a solution
What exactly is a food rut anyway? If you ever find yourself thinking that you're eating out or drinking way too much, you might be in a food rut; if you go grocery shopping with all intentions of cooking that night, but surrender your home cooked meal for a slice from the corner store pizza shop, you might be in a food rut; if you think your body or wallet is suffering from your takeout habit, you might be in a food rut!
Eventually, you'll come face to face with the rut and realize it's time to fix it. Think about what you're doing that's making you experience a food rut and how you can put an end to those habits. Instead of stopping by your favorite coffee spot on your way to work, wake up a little earlier and actually make yourself breakfast with home-brewed coffee—chances are, you'll feel more satisfied with your choice, especially when your midmorning reports are due and you need extra energy.
There's nothing like watching a good food and health documentary to spin me into a craze of changing my lifestyle—researching how nutrients (or the lack thereof) affect your body is truly interesting! If you're ready to shed the food rut baggage off your shoulders, look for nutrition tips and foods that provide nutrients your body needs.
Also, research your family history. So, if your bloodline has traces of diabetes or heart disease, your small food ruts might turn into a worse habit that's harder to shed as you get older resulting in possibly damaging consequences. If you're already battling an illness, research what foods you actually need to eat to keep you healthy.
Establishing a daily routine may keep your cravings for fast food at bay. Making the effort to get up extra early to attend a yoga class or planning meal and snack times throughout your day might establish the routine you need.
However, the key to long-term success with any routine is keeping up with it! Post reminders or daily mantras around your most visited areas at work or home or set reminders on your phone to keep your goals in check. What helps me is to enlist the help of a friend—we'll keep each other in check and hold each other accountable if we miss a workout or we skip on making a meal at home.
Add better foods to your diet by incorporating them into your daily meals. Find ways to make your habits healthier like swapping tea or water for coffee. If you're forced to go out to eat (it does happen) research the menu ahead of time to make healthier decisions.
This would also be a great time to try a new way of eating, not necessarily a diet, but a lifestyle change. As always though, ask your doctor or nutritionist for advice since they know your body best second to you. Your nutritionist may be able to help you come up with a meal plan, which leads me to my next tip:
If time is not on your side, spend one night prepping your lunch and dinner for the next couple of days. It's easier to refuse fast food when you know your pre-packed lunch is waiting for you in the break room. For lunch, try prepping salads packed with veggies and protein in a jar and snacks such as fruit or nuts.
Dinner is easier: I highly suggest investing in a slow cooker if you don't already have one. Load your slow cooker ingredients in the morning and let your meal simmer all day long, so that when you come home from work, your meal is already done. Plus, you'll have plenty of leftovers for the next day! Also, one-pot meals might be your new go-to dinner solution. Throw everything in one pot on the stovetop and dinner is ready in less than 30 minutes.