As someone who now considers herself a part of this “health and wellness movement” for full time work, I am extremely appreciative and grateful of the effort everyone is making to better themselves. It makes my heart happy that we are all finally paying attention to the ingredients that go into our body and the fact that many aspects of our lives can play a role in our health: food, relationships, physical activity, career, and so much more. That being said, it can be extremely overwhelming. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that an overabundance of options actually causes more stress. I notice this in certain aspects of my life, such as picking an outfit to wear or choosing between the thousand fitness studios NYC now fortunately offers, and I’ve chalked it up to potentially being the sheer aspect of FOMO that I continuously find myself struggling with (when will I ever get over this!?). However, I’m starting to notice it in one particular part of my life that I never thought it would affect: my health.
With this incredible movement and new microscopic focus on the health industry, we, as consumers, have been thrown millions of different, and new, products, suggestions, diagnoses, activities, diets, and overall wellness ideas at us. While some are great and truly beneficial, not all are created equal. Because of that, and the fact that every single person’s health and reactive systems are different (hello, bioindividuality), it can be quite overwhelming when trying to focus on bettering your health. I sometimes feel like I am drowning in a world of “new things I must try to feel my best”. Let me interlude by stating that I am fully aware of how ridiculous this may sound. Here I am, it seems, complaining about having “too many options” to become a healthier individual. I get it. However, what I’m trying to get across here, is to comfort those of you who may also feel this way. I think it always seems like everyone else has their shit together and that, as an individual, we are personally struggling with figuring it out. So, let me be clear when I state – I sure as hell do not have my health journey fully figured out. I still don’t know whether I fully believe in adaptogens, I am always wondering if I’m taking the right vitamins for my personal self, I’m continuously curious about whether infa-red saunas are worth the money, and, after 3 years of attempting to hammer down what my exact food intolerances are, I still can’t say for sure what continuously causes this bloat.
What I can tell you, with absolute positivity, is that there is one extremely simple task that you can do in order to improve your health and begin this journey: cook the food you are eating. There is no other piece of advice I would give to someone who is looking to better themselves. Before you dive headfirst into a thousand google searches of which type of mushroom powder you should mix into your coffee (not hating on people who do this, just saying that’s a bit farther down the road), make the first step an attainable and achievable one. Do not stress about the thousand other options and remedies out there, simply put your love and attention into the food you are consuming. It goes without saying that, if you are making the food you eat on a regular basis, you will begin to notice a difference. Even when picking healthy options while dining out, there are certain hidden ingredients restaurants and fast casual places use that you would never cook with yourself. Between the oils and added sugars, I can, hopefully confidently, predict that you would not be using a lot of the things that you may be blindly consuming.
So, how do we go about taking this step that I’ve proclaimed as “small” but still seems intimidating? I’m here to help you tackle this task and kick start your health journey. Here are my top five tips on how to cook more of the food you consume.
- Meal prep for the week, in whatever form you prefer. This goes without saying, and probably not by surprise considering I now meal prep for clients as a profession, but it needs to be stated. Meal prepping saves so. much. time. The number one excuse people have for not cooking their own meals is that they don’t have time. News flash: no one thinks they have time! So make it. Whether it be cooking individually packed and prepared meals or batch cooking some options to throw together when the time comes, figure out what works for you and carve out some time to do it. Curious on where to start? Check out some of my meal prep guides. And, it goes without saying, that if you actually do not have the time, hire me! (Subtle plug)
- Read the labels and stick to ingredients that you can pronounce. While the act of cooking implies that you are actually the one making the food, that doesn’t mean that some pre-packaged goods won’t slip in there every once and awhile. Be sure to triple check ingredients on any products you use that didn’t either grow or graze this earth.
- Take the stress out of it, make it fun! Often times people proclaim that they “have” to cook dinner that night. Like it is such an incredibly weight bearing burden. News flash – we are all lucky to have any type of meal in front of us! So instead of complaining about taking the time to actually care for the food you’re about to eat, have some fun with it. Find a way that makes cooking personally fun for you. Invite friends over and cook together; who said girls night had to be at a wine bar eating a platter of mostly shitty charcuterie and questionable oysters. Grab some fresh ingredients, a few bottles of wine (or not, you do you), and have a night in. Your wallet will also be thanking you
- Cooking with healthy foods doesn’t always have to be expensive. There is a common misconception that when cooking healthy foods, you have to be made of money. Yes, organic is more expensive than not. And, yes, your jaw may drop every once and awhile when your butcher weighs your grass-fed steaks. However, not every single thing you purchase has to be top of the line. Buy in bulk, figure out what is on sale, purchase loose vegetables instead of pre-cut and packaged (and minimize plastic waste!), and batch cook. And if your bill is still higher than you’re used to, think about it as an investment in your personal health and the hope that this will save you some medical bills in the long run.
- Always have a stocked pantry and freezer. Personally, the nights that I for-go my cooking and say, “F it, I’m ordering in”, are ones that I get home late from being out all day long, come home to an empty fridge (tisk tisk no meal prepping), and have absolutely zero desire to go to the grocery store to get ingredients for dinner. Don’t set yourself up for failure! Stock your pantry with essentials and your freezer with all the leftovers you can freeze. Another time this backstock method comes into play is when I am feeling extremely frugal and realizing I should probably be budgeting my NYC life better, so I decide to make “clean out the fridge/pantry meals”. Just last night I made one of my potentially favorite dinners I’ve had in a long time with ingredients I already had on hand (picture above). I grabbed the pasta from my pantry, frozen homemade pesto cubes, frozen wild tuna, and frozen avocado from my freezer, and the ends of a bag of arugula and broccolini from my fridge. Voila, a delicious dinner come together in just 15 minutes. I’m telling you: it can be that easy!