The biggest reason I hear people say they can’t eat healthily is time.
I know that struggle. There’s always so much to do – a bursting to-do list, meetings, deadlines and pressures. Being in the kitchen feels like some kind of luxury compared with being at the desk hammering out emails and clearing the inbox.
But guess what? We’ve all got 24hrs in the day. We all have obligations, we all have busy jobs and some of us even have families on top of that too.
So why do some people manage to find the time to eat well and nourish themselves, while you’re left struggling?
1. Because you’re multi-tasking
One of the things we delve deep into on The Reset retreats is how much we multi-task.
News flash: no humans can multi-task, not even women! Our brains actually work in serial, just like a computer. We can only do one thing at a time. If we’re trying to do multiple tasks ‘simultaneously’ all our brain is really doing is flicking between tasks really quickly.
The time to switch between tasks can be small – 0.2-0.5 seconds. But that really starts to add up if we’re doing it across sustained periods of time. And when we’re stressed? That time gets longer.
What are you doing in that switch time? Absolutely nothing! It’s dead time. Totally wasted, valuable seconds and minutes in your day. Want them back? Stop multi-tasking!
There’s lots more on this topic in a blog post I wrote on The Reset blog about why you feel stressed and what to do about it.
2. Because you’re wasting time on social media
There, I said it. You’re spending too much time on socials!
Have you noticed the new facilities released lately informing you of the screen time you’re indulging in? Some of the stats are alarming, and when our phones are addictive as they are, minutes turn into hours that are lost when we could be doing something far more productive. Like… whipping up a batch of soup for the week, or prepping some overnight oats for breakfast.
I can hear what you’re saying though: “Going on Instagram gives me healthy eating inspiration!”
I’m totally with you. I love social media for inspiring me on recipes and ingredients. I have hundreds of screen-shots of tasty treats I’ve spotted on Instagram that I promise myself I’m going to make. How many have I actually made though?! I’d say less than 10%.
Nothing is going to make you healthy meals apart from getting in the kitchen and preparing them yourselves.
There isn’t a magic bullet or better answer the further you scroll down your feed. Put the screen down, put that apron on, pick the first recipe you find and get in the kitchen.
3. Because you think it takes more time than it really does
You’ve got your recipe and you’re scouring the method to see how many steps this dish is going to take. More than 10 steps? I haven’t got time for that!
Or maybe you’re drooling over a pecan pie bar on Instagram but have already made up your mind, “they must take ages to make, I don’t have a minute to spare.”
I’m not going to lie, some recipes really do take time. Sometimes things look elaborate and they genuinely are.
But there are also hundreds, if not thousands of healthy eating bloggers and home-cooks out there who are sharing recipes that are simple and easy to make with basic whole-foods ingredients.
Instead of following people on socials who’s recipes you’ll never be able to recreate, why don’t you fill your feed with people who are making recipes you can imagine making at home.
My top recommendations for down-to-earth and accessible recipes are:
Niki at Rebel Recipes (don’t let the beautiful photography deceive you, her recipes are really simple!)
Amie at Fitness Forster, particularly for all things sweet treat
Mine! The majority of my recipes are with basic supermarket bought whole food ingredients that don’t take long to prepare.
The other thing to say about cooking – be it healthy or not – is that it’s all about practise. Just like any skill you learn, repeating it over and over, and making mistakes (!) is all part of the process of getting faster and better and ultimately more confident.
You won’t grow in skill and confidence by reading and looking at pictures. It will only come from doing.
4. Because you don’t prioritise healthy eating
Have you ever taken a step back and looked at what you are actually spending your time doing every day? Where are your hours going? Multi-tasking and social media might well be a couple of reasons you’re losing time, but what about the rest of the week?
Try for a day to mindfully notice where your time is spent. How much is on house-work, your business, seeing friends, taking care of the family? And how much is on meal preparation?
All these tasks are important. But if your split of time seems unbalanced, or you think there’s even a chance you could take back, say, 20 minutes that you spent staring at Pinterest pretending it was research for marketing your business, then you could be ploughing that into some cooking instead.
Prioritising healthy eating is prioritising yourself.
5. Because meal-prep isn’t what you think it is
If you believe that you aren’t eating ‘healthily’ because your fridge isn’t full of Tupperware of chicken-breasts and broccoli all cooked on a Sunday, then I’ve got news for you: meal-prep doesn’t have to look like that.
Meal prep is all about being organised. And it can come in many forms:
Planning your meals for the week on a Sunday and shopping for the ingredients in one go
Having a staple set of ingredients always in the cupboards which can be turned into hundreds of healthy meals (download my e-book to get the shopping lists you need now)
Batch cooking a cottage pie, soup, chilli, curry or risotto and freezing or fridge-ing leftover portions
Slicing up veggies when you have some spare time and sealing them in sandwich bags with a dampened sheet of kitchen roll to keep them fresh and ready for when you want them (totally stole this tip from Delalicious but it’s genius)
Do an online shop at somewhere like Buy Whole Foods Online*, where you can bulk buy key ingredients you can keep in the cupboard for months.
Organisation is key and if you’re an entrepreneur I know you love being organised and doing some planning.
Taking some time to apply this to your meals every week will transform how you feel and ultimately boost your productivity in other areas of your life. It’s time well worth spending – think of it as an investment.
This post might come as a bit of tough love but I hope it reveals some truths to you about what might be the real reasons when you next say “but I don’t have time to cook healthy food.”
Let me know what you think! I’d love to know if time is the biggest barrier for you when it comes to healthy eating, or if there’s something else I can help with.
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*Disclosure: I am an ambassador for Buy Whole Foods Online and some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you’d like to know more about Buy Whole Foods Online, please visit the Buy Whole Foods Online website for more details. Any purchases made through this/these link(s) are at no extra cost to you but give The Flourishing Pantry a small commission. Thanks!