Amelia Freer is the British nutritionist responsible for keeping celebrities like Sam Smith and Victoria Beckham feeling their best, and in her latest book, Nourish & Glow, she distills her methods into an easy plan that anyone can follow. Her techniques and food are designed as nourishment, not deprivation, but she recognizes that certain foods simply don’t agree with certain people. Here, she shares the common pitfalls her clients face when trying to eat better and exactly how to overcome them.
Most of my clients are extremely busy people and struggle to fit eating well into their hectic schedules. But it can be done!
Let me start off with a little tough love here. Time management, particularly when it comes to eating well, is about priorities. If you have time to watch TV or browse the internet, then you have time to eat well. If you really want to improve your nutrition, energy, skin, health, and everything else that comes along with it, then you are going to need to move shopping, food preparation, cooking, and eating right up your priority list.
Of course, there are situations in which it can be a logistical challenge to eat well. Given how varied everyone’s lives, jobs, hobbies, and other commitments are, it is impossible to give you a personalized answer. I know you have probably heard all the basic things before, so instead, try using the following questions to help you find your own solutions. They will be better suited to your life than anything I could write!
1. Are you planning ahead?
Planning what you are going to eat over the next few days, even in broad terms, means less time trying to come up with meals, fewer last-minute dashes to the supermarket, and easier preparation.
If you are particularly busy in the mornings, are you preparing your breakfast the night before? Or cooking ahead for the evenings when you know you’ll be home from work late? Is your shopping efficient? Are you shopping every day or just heading out to the store here or there a few times a week? Is it a long round trip to your nearest store? Are you always at work when the stores are open?
2. Would a weekly internet delivery of basics be helpful?
Consider a bulk order of meat from your local farmstand or butcher to put in the freezer—this can be very cost-effective, you’ll know you always have something to eat, and it is often better quality than what’s available in the supermarket.
Bulk ordering can also be handy for dried goods (the internet is full of great whole-food shops)—things like lentils, nuts, oils, chickpeas, flours, etc.
Think about joining a community-supported agriculture box program. It means you always have a stash of seasonal veggies to pick from, and most allow you to add on extra items like eggs, fruit, milk, bread, and yogurt, too.
3. Have you got the right equipment?
Is your kitchen an efficient place to prepare food? Enough saucepans, a great peeler, decent knives, easily washed cutting boards, plenty of BPA-free storage containers (for all those leftovers and your packed lunches), and a food processor can all greatly cut down on prep time.
4. Do you prep once, eat twice (or even three times)?
Try to prepare dishes that leave plenty of leftovers for a speedy second, or third, meal. When you are plating up, serve an extra portion into your lunch box—that’s tomorrow’s lunch done. If you are washing and peeling vegetables, wash and peel some extras. Freeze leftovers in portions for a homemade ready meal at a later date.
5. Are your recipes overcomplicated?
My approach to cooking and eating really can be as simple as piling a load of salad onto a plate, adding some protein (leftover roast chicken, a dollop of hummus, a handful of nuts) and drizzling over some flavor (olive oil, lemon, vinegar, etc.). True fast food! Most of the cooking I do is fast and easy (from fridge to plate in under five minutes). So don’t worry about trying to be a whiz in the kitchen (unless you enjoy it, of course). No recipe is worth stressing over.
6. Is it really that you are just too exhausted to cook?
You may have enough time in the evening to cook from scratch, but by the time you get home from work (or have put the kids to bed, got back from the gym, etc.), you feel too tired to attempt it. Could you make your kitchen a more relaxing and enjoyable space to prepare food in, so that it becomes a less daunting task? Are there certain days when you are more tired? Could you plan ahead so that you know you will have food already prepared on those days? Do you have some five-minute healthy meals up your sleeve (with ingredients in your kitchen) for moments like this? Things like eggs with chopped vegetables (whatever is in the fridge), throw-together salads, or avocado on toast are great.