We are all so busy these days – I get it. But the fact of the matter is, if there is something you REALLY want to do in your life, it will somehow get done. I’ve seen this played out many times before and was excited to recently see this phenomenon very clearly put into words.
When Life Just Gets in the Way
Straight from Stephen Covey’s famous 7 habits philosophy – imagine you have one empty jar that represents your life and two piles of rocks. One pile contains big rocks and the other small rocks. Both piles represent what you fill your life with. Your pile of big rocks represents the most important things in your life, such as family, career, health, relationships, etc. Your little rocks represent all the other less important stuff in life, such as chores, social media, trying to meet other people’s expectations, saying “yes” too much, etc.
If you start by filling your jar with all the little rocks (i.e., the busyness of life), will there be room left to fit in the big rocks (i.e., the important stuff)? No! So, what you have to do is put those big rocks in first and then let the little rocks fit in around them. This signifies making the important things priorities in your life instead of putting them on the back burner in place of the other stuff that doesn’t matter as much to you.
Make Real Food a “Big Rock”
I think this philosophy can help in many ways, but (for me) it perfectly explains how you can fit real food into an already busy life. You simply make it a non-negotiable priority and let something else – that’s not as important in your life – fall by the wayside. And know that in the end, when you and your family experience improved health as a result, the effort will be more than worth this shift in priorities.
I recently saw my sister-in-law take this thought process to heart with her new gym membership that started in January. The gym she chose tracks all your exercises and puts a competitive edge to it by showing your progress compared to other members. This served as good motivation for her, and, as my brother put it, she somehow found 8 extra hours in her busy week to exercise that she thought she didn’t have (as a mom who works full-time outside the home). And let me tell you what, she is looking and feeling great as a result! Again, if you decide it’s really important, you can make it happen.
Slowly Establish a New Routine
Change is hard at first – trust me, I know! When we cut out processed food back in 2010 (a very drastic change compared to the Standard American Diet we were eating at the time), I lost sleep at night over how we would do this. I had never before read an ingredient label, purchased anything that was organic, stepped foot in a farmer’s market, or eaten an entire piece of whole-wheat bread. I also didn’t know of very many blogs or books to use as a resource at the time, so it felt like a lot of work to figure it all out on my own. I honestly don’t recommend going cold turkey like we did. It was not easy!
But what I do recommend is to start small, like with breakfast for example. Focus on cleaning up breakfast and then move on to the next meal of the day (or snacks) until little by little you establish a whole new routine. After lots of practice, it will eventually become your new normal, but if you fall off the wagon at some point, just brush yourself off and get right back on. Perfection is not the goal here because, as one of my favorite quotes says, done is better than perfect!
4 Easy Steps to Cut Out Processed Food
Don’t overthink this – just dive right in and start. And just to make things as approachable as possible, here are some resources I created for this very purpose:
Step 1: Know What Processed Food to Avoid and Why
- Our list of rules (how we define “real food”)
- Why we think it’s important to cut out processed food
- My family’s personal changes in health since switching to real food
Step 2: Understand How to Identify Real Food at the Store
- How to Read Ingredient Labels (the #1 way to know what’s in your food!)
- Understanding Grains and 6 Ways to Ease the Switch to Whole Grain
Step 3: Get the Processed Stuff Out of Your House
(This is one of the best changes I ever made. You can’t eat it if it’s not there!)
- 21 real food essentials for freezer, pantry, & fridge
- Video tours of my fridge, freezer and pantry
Step 4: Buy and Cook Real Food (planning ahead is key!)
- Free family meal plans with shopping lists organized by store department
- My blog recipe index with plenty of free, printable real food recipes
- My first cookbook, which is part guidebook
- And, coming soon, my next cookbook with a “fast & fabulous” theme
Good luck, and remember, don’t be too hard on yourself! Any small step in the right direction is better than none.