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More than ever the focus is moving away from short-term, “crash” dieting , and more on developing sustainable nutrition systems that set you up for nutritional success most days of the week. A system is an organized method, or framework.
Systems help bridge the gap between knowing what to eat, and doing it consistently.
No doubt you’ve designed systems around getting the kids ready in the morning and to school on time, or getting yourself ready in the morning, or systems to organize your workday or weekends.
Think of a system as a series of steps that fit together in a routine, to create a desired result. When you put a homemade meal on the table in the evening there was a system behind it – making sure the right groceries were in the house, that there were enough clean dishes and utensils, that a menu was planned and that someone was designated to prep and cook it.
If your goal is to prepare wholesome, homemade foods on a regular basis, you need a system. Spontaneity with nutrition often doesn’t go well – you’re making food decisions with your ‘animal brain’ when you’re hungry, rushed, or tired. The animal brain makes impulsive “I-need-to-survive” decisions, not logical “this-is-not-a-healthy-food-so-I’m-going-to-go-to-the-grocery-store-to-get-ingredients-for-a-homemade- meal” decisions.
How do you develop a nutrition system?
First you want to know what to eat. You want to develop a system around foods that help you feel your best. Have some fun experimenting with different recipes and styles of eating. If it’s available to you, consult with a Naturopathic Doctor, Functional Medicine Dr, Nutritionist or Dietician who can provide clinical guidance and make personalized recommendations.
Then, when you discover how to eat to feel your best, the bigger job is to build a system so you can eat like that every day. A system takes time to implement initially but in the long run sets you up for efficiency and consistency. Getting different results demands different habits.
A nutrition system includes a routine around meal planning, grocery shopping, food prep, cooking and clean-up.
Consider these examples of nutrition systems:
Outsource. Hand over your dietary specs to a personal chef and let him/her run their system and create meals for you. Maybe you’re married to your personal chef, in which case count yourself lucky.
Meal Kit or Meal Delivery Service. Pick out your menu items 1x/week, let them take care of the planning, shopping, delivery and all you do is assemble and cook.
Weekly Meal Plan. Have a repertoire of 7 recipes that you rotate through the week – Stir-Fry Sundays, Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, etc. Food is prepped fresh every night, but there’s no surprises – you know what’s on the menu, what’s on the weekly grocery list, you know who’s going to cook it, how long it takes to prepare and how much clean up to expect.
Meal Prep. Prep 4-5 batches of food at once. One trip to the grocery store/week, one sink full of dirty pots and pans, one big kitchen clean-up after. One concentrated afternoon of effort saves 4-5 cooking and clean-up sessions throughout the week.
Meal Assembly. Instead of preparing full meals ahead, prep or cook a selection of individual whole foods – washed, chopped vegetables/greens, cooked grains/beans, cooked poultry/fish, hard-boiled eggs, sauces/dressings – stored in individual containers in the fridge. The individual ingredients are ready for assembling and seasoning in limitless combinations throughout the week. Salad Jars and Buddha Bowls lend well to this type of system.
And last by not least, A Smoothie System. We are all about smoothies. A daily smoothie system helps define your healthy lifestyle, and can offer up high-density nutrition with very little effort and even less mess.
What system will work for you? With a return to the office, kids activities, more social and travel, how will your nutrition keep up? Start with a plan, then build the system. We’re here to help.