A good (and varied) diet doesn’t happen by accident…

Hectic week this week. It’s felt like a long (short) one, and with end of semester looming, an exam to write for my students, and not feeling 100% thanks to an acute attack of the ‘vom’ on Thursday, it’s fair to say that I’ve been better. That said, a good night’s sleep has made a world of difference. Slept in till 7am, feel like a rockstar. And now I’m in Wellington for the Whole 9 workshop that is hosted by Whole 9 South Pacific, should be good.

So what’s new with me? Not much. The universe continues in its effort to derail my best intentions to get a run in that is of length and intensity to be considered ‘training.’ Problematic when the Gold Coast half is mere weeks away. That’s thanks to a tight glute med and the aforementioned vomiting incident which has thrown my gut a bit out of balance. That was the first time I have been sick since one too many KGBs at the Orient during Orientation in 1999. And I have a REAL phobia about it – scares me the way people are scared of spiders.*  Anway, I’m needing to up the raw apple cider vinegar and sauerkraut this week to get my good bacteria back in order. Needless to say, I’ll be relying on muscle memory and the finisher’s t-shirt to get me to the end of the Gold Coast run.

I was in clinic this week with a lovely client who complained that she was getting tired of just eating chicken and vegetables, and wanted some new ideas. I furrowed my brow at her  (I am very good at that) and said ‘but I’ve given you plenty of ideas to mix it up’, and started to go through the list of meal ideas I had provided her, to see if she really DID need more suggestions. She conceded that she’d not really put as much thought into what to eat as she could have, so, in order to NOT slip back into unhelpful habits, had stuck to a rather simple, yet non varied approach to her eating. The downside of this is that it can get old very quickly. And if it comes to the point where you couldn’t stomach one more chicken stirfry**, then it’s more likely you will slip into habits you’ve been trying to break.

The truth is, people, a good and varied diet doesn’t happen by accident. It does take time and preparation. However, it is not as arduous as you believe. I tell my clients to set aside three hours in the weekend to prepare for the week ahead. I know what you’re thinking: come on, Williden. I don’t have three hours to do this! But it probably won’t take that long. However, it’s better to overestimate the time it takes rather than only scheduling an hour to plan, shop, and prepare your lunch and dinner in advance. It will only make you feel stressed, a bit rushed and, upon realising that it’s not enough time to achieve much, you will flag altogether. Honestly, once you establish a routine with this, it will take far less time. The other bonus is that you will be far less likely to come home to beans on toast at the end of a work day. Or (gross), stop in at BK for a combo.

Today I had  two hours to plan, shop, chop and prepare food for lunch and dinner for the week ahead. And I managed to complete it. I know what you’re thinking: ‘well, it’s easy for Mikki, she’s a nutritionist/foodie.’ Little known fact: I am a complete ditherer. I really am.  Anyone who comes to my house for a meal at 7pm should expect to be eating at 9pm. However, when pushed for time I can come to the party.

So, while it might not be the best way to do things, this is what I do and tell my clients to do: picked two salads to prepare for lunches, decided on the protein sources to have on hand, and chose which vegetables that can be prepared in advance to have for dinner. Today, armed with my shopping list, I was in and out of the supermarket in about 20 minutes. A record for me. Then I chopped, roasted, boiled, steamed and sistema’d. Now, I’m no Martha Stewart. While I wish I could post some pictures of a perfectly ordered kitchen in amongst some frenetic preparation as evidenced by other food bloggers, evidence would suggest otherwise.

This is like my step-by-step guide to cooking, except all of the steps take place all at once, culminating into one messy kitchen.

This is like my step-by-step guide to cooking, except all of the steps take place all at once, culminating into one messy kitchen.

However, in the space of about 75 minutes I was able to:

  1. hardboil eggs in preparation for breakfast and/or lunch;
  2. roast carrot, pumpkin and cauliflower for evening meals (added mixed spice and roasted in coconut oil);
  3. steam brussel sprouts for evening meals;
  4. steam cauliflower florets in preparation to make faux-tato; and
  5. made a Sesame Asian coleslaw and a warm winter salad for lunches.

If you don’t think that what I’ve prepared would appeal to you, then I would say: think again (ala Jamie Oliver). The devil is in the detail. It’s not the ‘meat and 3 vege’ meal of the 80s (although there is nothing wrong with a hearty roast); start using those spieces that have been lurking around in the back of your pantry. Better yet, clear it out and start again. The best thing is opening a recipe book and seeing a list of ingredients you know are already in your pantry.

It is amazing how satisfying it is to come home mid week knowing it will only take around 20 minutes before dinner is on the table. Instead of deciding to upsize your Whopper combo, it might be you need to upsize your fridge. Think about it as an investment in your future.

Proof you can never have enough Sistema containers.

Proof you can never have enough Sistema containers.

* I also have a phobia about people wearing animal masks. Just makes me a little uncomfortable, in a George Orwell Animal Farm kind of way.

** Am I the only person who really doesn’t like chicken stir-fry?

10 thoughts on “A good (and varied) diet doesn’t happen by accident…

  1. Another great read – totally agree with you Mikki, planning and preparation only way to go!! Off to cromwell for soccer today, gone are the days of a bread roll and ham for lunch (nice and easy), so i quickly whipped up egg/onion/cheese/bacon slice for Glenn and I while making Breakfast – always being a step ahead of yourself if the way to be!

  2. That’s great Deb, and I love the sound of that slice! Back home from Wellington and dinner was super easy to prepare – just stir-fried some silverbeet and salmon, made some faux-tato from the cauliflower and heated up some roast vege. Yum.

  3. I will be doing some food prep of my own since I have left my lovely chef (Jamie) in New Zealand for a week. I’m planning on slow cooking a lamb shoulder overnight – this will be my breakfast for a few days, pulled apart and fried in ghee. I also chop up veggies (zucchini, onions, capsicum, etc) for quick frying. The easiest way to prepare starches is to roast the veggies (sweet potato or pumpkin), then mash – ready to reheat with butter and spices at any time. And I’m with you – I totally loathe chicken stir fry.

    • Hi Sam, great question. Fruits and vege will lose around up to 25% of their vit C and beta carotene when cut and stored for up to 5-6 days it appears – this is through oxidisation. I think that it is largely overstated the amount of nutrients actually lost. Of course, ensure you keep them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Regarding the nutrients lost: these are abundant in fruits and vegetables, so as long as you have a good intake, then I would doubt you are at risk of not getting in enough. Along with good amounts of animal products for vit A (beta carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body), I think you’ve got a LOT more to gain from prepping than the potential cost of feeling stressed during the week through not planning in advance 🙂

      • Yep, totally agree. Think I was getting hung up on the loss of vitamins previously but then devouring something really crappy instead because I wasn’t organised and needed something fast. Thanks for clearing it up!

  4. Hi Mikki, Im finding I do two mini preps a week. One on Sunday to last until tues/wed, then again on Wed to last until Sunday. I do a meat loaf one of the preps and a dozen or so chicken drums on the other. My 3 sons love coming home after school and grabbing a chicken drum or fat slice of loaf!
    Easy peasy, and better than muesli bars and biscuits for kids snacks!

    Julie

  5. Hi mikki, I tried your suggestion of microwave Kumera with butter for breakfast before the rustic run marathon, and it worked a treat! Snacked on cashews throughout the run and drank coconut water. Was well pleased not to revert back to high sugar sports drinks, leppins etc. cheers, Julie.

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