Wake Up!

Your excuses are not serving you!

How many excuses do you use a day?

We all use them for all sorts of reasons, here are some of the most common:

  • I don’t have time, I’m too busy.
  • I don’t enjoy it or I’m comfortable as I am.
  • It’s too hard or I don’t know how.
  • It costs too much.

Depending on exactly why you are using the excuse it will very likely be a variant of one of there.

When we are trying to avoid change, or trying to not recognise a failing in ourselves we can be very good at employing excuses and we can often even stack a few together to ‘strengthen’ them and protect us from changing.

I say this because, for a long time, I used a series of these excuses to avoid recognising that I needed to do something about what I ate.

My favourite was ‘I’m too busy’.  I was busy but I wasn’t that busy!

It was closely followed by ‘I already eat well’.  I sort of did, but only sometimes.

And another one was ‘I’m not as bad as those other people’.  Which might have been true but it didn’t mean I was healthier or less overweight.

I’m sure you get the idea and you probably have some really great excuses of your own that never crossed my mind.

The thing is, when you start to break those excuses down, they just don’t hold water. 

When I finally realised that all I was doing was telling myself a bunch of big fat lies and told myself to get out of my own way a lot changed for me and it really wasn’t anywhere as hard as I’d built it up in my head to be.

In my mind it was like Mount Everest but in reality it was much more like a walk around the block!

So, let’s break a few of these excuses down and see what they really look like when it comes to changing what you eat.

I don’t have time, I’m too busy.

When you think you are too busy you usually are busy.  There are a million things we do each day which keep us busy and some of it may be time ‘wasted’ in the eyes of other people. But if that’s how you want to spend your time then it isn’t ‘wasted’ for you.

In reality though, you still have to eat. 

This means that at some point you are still going to go to a shop and buy food.  And you are still going to have to prepare that food in some way, and you are still going to sit down and eat that food.

All of that takes time.

If you only eat take away meals then you spend a lot of time waiting for that meal to be delivered, which is still time so you are just using your time differently.

Here’s a fix that isn’t going to take much longer, if at all.

When you go to the shop buy better food!  Swap the pre-prepared foods for less prepared food or whole food.

The first few times you do this will, very likely, take you a bit longer but once you have done the label reading you shouldn’t need to do it every time.

Preparing the food may take a little bit longer depending on what you did previously but if you haven’t decided to suddenly cook a gourmet meal then your preparation probably won’t take you a lot longer than it did anyway.

When you sit down to eat your meal it will probably take you the same amount of time as you used to spend.

The upshot

All in all, the food preparation is probably the bit which will take you longer, but it will not take you hours longer each day.

If you cooked extra, then you have left overs.  Which will save you time for the next meal!

If you cooked a lot extra, it is even possible that you have used less time than you were using before to prepare and eat meals.

So, that Everest is more like a walk around the block after all.

Reduced Diversity of Gut Microbiome

Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria, which make up what is known as your gut microbiome. These bacteria play a crucial role in your overall health, including your mental health.

A diet high in processed foods, can reduce the diversity of the gut microbiome which, in turn, can lead to a reduction in beneficial bacteria which then allows harmful bacteria to take over.

Increased Inflammation

Processed foods are nearly always high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats. These types of foods contribute to inflammation in the body, including in the gut.

Chronic inflammation can lead to a range of health problems, including mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. 

One thing you may not realise is that bloating, and even obesity, are an indication of inflammation in your body.  It is a message from your body that so often gets overlooked.

‘I don’t enjoy cooking’ or ‘I’m comfortable as I am’.

When you think you are comfortable or you don’t enjoy cooking.  I hear you!

For me, food is merely a means to an end.  I like to live life and to do that I need to eat.  I don’t need to be a master chef or a fabulous cook to get good food on the table though.  I just need to have a few of my staple, go-to recipes that I can knock over without thinking and get back to doing the other things I want to do.

In reality how do you measure discomfort?

I love comfortable, but there’s a line.  I am not prepared to be uncomfortable in the long term in exchange for a bit of discomfort now. 

For me, the idea of waiting around in doctor’s surgeries, or worse, in hospitals, is much more uncomfortable than cooking my meals from scratch and eating good food now.

Here’s a fix.

This is one of my staple recipes.  I call it Awesome Beans.  That’s because I think they are awesome.

The upshot

There are plenty of things we have to do even if we don’t like to do them and preparing or cooking food may not be your choice of fun but it is surely not the worst thing you will ever have to do. 

You do get a sense of achievement from cooking and preparing food so in my books it is one of those ‘things’, kind of like vacuuming.  I don’t really enjoy it but I like the result.

The biggest plus for me is knowing I am staving off a lot of discomfort in the long run in the form of preventive health.  Even now, I know I spend a lot less time visiting health practitioners than many of my friends who are the same age or younger.

Looks a lot more like walking around the block than climbing Everest.

It’s too hard or I don’t know how.

When you think it is ‘too hard’ to cook or prepare food or you don’t know how to cook food you probably think you need to have some qualification or your standards for yourself may be too high.

If you don’t really cook or you never had any cooking lessons of any kind then I understand that you may be hesitant but if you start small and build on that it won’t take you very long to build up a group of recipes that you can swap around for various meals.

In reality most food preparation is easy. 

Boiling an egg is easy and fast.  Throwing some lettuce leaves in a bowl with some tomato and cucumber is easy and fast.

Even making a cake is relatively easy.  There are more recipes than you can poke a stick at that will walk you through the process and, nearly always, you will end up with something you can eat.

Here’s a fix

Try the Awesome Beans recipe that I mentioned above.  I love it because it is easy, I can make a big saucepan full and then I can either freeze any left overs or simply keep them in the fridge and eat them for a few nights.

And here is my A Better Breakfast Builds a Better Body selection of recipes for breakfast.  These are also easy to get started with and you don’t only have to have them for breakfast.

The upshot

Most day-to-day food preparation and cooking is not really ‘too hard’. 

It is more a case of learning how.

The very first time I thought I would make fried rice I heated the oil in the pan and tossed in the rice.  I had no idea that the rice needed to be cooked first so I ended up with little hard toasted pellets 😀

If I had used a recipe, it would have said cooked rice, but I learnt from that experience and that night I had stir fried vegetables without the rice.

I didn’t starve and I still had a pretty good meal, it just wasn’t exactly what I set out to have.

My point is, that it doesn’t have to be hard and you will learn fastest by doing.

Everest is looking pretty small really.

It costs too much.

When you think that preparing food from scratch and choosing food that is better for you costs too much you have been listening to the advertising of the food manufacturers.

Food manufacturers want you to buy their product so they will always point out the advantages of their product.

In reality

Sure, if you go out and buy all the ingredients for one meal including the things that you only use a small amount of to make a meal, then it would be cheaper to buy a prepared meal.  But when you factor in the second and subsequent times that you make that meal you don’t need to buy all the ingredients so the meal you are preparing becomes cheaper.

The other ‘cost’ that no-one ever seems to factor in is your long-term health.

By preparing your own food you will have a better, more nutritious meal which will save you money in the long term.

Here’s a fix

Let’s have a look at the Awesome Beans recipe. 

I use it because it is easy and it illustrates this point.

If you use tinned beans you will buy 2 or 3 cans of beans and use them in the recipe.  You will also end up with enough food to feed around 6 people.

If you choose to use dried beans you will be able to buy a lot more beans and cook some of them up to use in the recipe. You will still have dried beans left over that you can use next time and you will still have enough cooked beans to feed around 6 people.

If you bought a prepared bean dish, either a take-away meal, or something from the supermarket you will have enough cooked beans for between 2 to 4 people and it probably still cost you around the same amount, and possibly more if you factor in that the serve is smaller.

The upshot

Mostly, cooking whole food from first principles or ‘scratch’ will be cheaper when you work it out.

The thing is, that most people don’t do the whole sum.

So, buying all of the ingredients for only one recipe will be more expensive but, for example, if you use the olive oil to cook the food, make a salad dressing and keep for the next month or two while you use it in different recipes.  It is hardly fair then to attribute the entire cost of the olive oil to the first recipe you make.

The same goes for the other ingredients. 

You buy a lettuce and use some of it for one dinner and then you add it to a lunch the next day and then two more dinners.  The cost of the lettuce should at least be divided by four.

I’m sure you can get my drift.

It can be a lot cheaper to prepare your own meals, both on your wallet and on your health.

Not so much like Everest.  Anyone for a walk around the block?

Your excuses are your excuses and maybe they are a bit different from the ones I have broken down above.

The thing about excuses though, is that they hold you back.

They keep you safe and comfortable but when you are safe and comfortable you don’t grow or try new things. 

If you don’t try new things you don’t change, and if you don’t change you don’t grow.

If you don’t grow you become stagnant and that’s when things can start to go bad…

So, have a look at your excuses and see if they really are serving you!

And see if your Everest shrinks before your eyes!