Breaking Patterns to Learn How to Cook and Eat Healthy

Dear Friends,

I hope this finds you healthy and well! We are just about to wrap up get healthy month, and in October I will start catching you up on all that’s been going on behind the scenes over the last six weeks or so since I started this series. I hope you’ll continue along for the ride! I always share Mediterranean Diet recipe posts every other Monday, as well as other diet and lifestyle posts. But I also talk more about my personal life, my kids, my relationship, and all that we have going on. I also love fashion and write occasionally about my thrifted fashion finds.

But for now, back to why you’re all here! They say that complacency kills, and I think that is seldom more true than it is in the kitchen. It is human nature to fall into a routine; a patter; a way of doing things that doesn’t require thinking. So when we set out to do something new that breaks away from our usual patterns, our brains don’t like it and sooner or later meet us with resistance. Part of our brain’s function is to make sure we are expending as little energy as possible on processing information, which is why we fall into these routines and habits that allow our brains to exist on auto-pilot.

Why do we always seem to cook the same meals, order the same foods at our favorite restaurants, snack on the same stuff week after week, etc.? Because we don’t have to think about it. We grab, go, and consume and that’s all there is to it. So if you’re adopting a new healthy lifestyle, you’re probably completely changing up your usual go-to meals and foods, That can present a lot of stress because you now have to be conscious and aware of your choices.

The good news is…you will fall into an auto-pilot state once again where food and cooking are concerned. You just need to be prepared for it to take time. As you learn new recipes, new foods that you love, and new ways of preparing foods, your brain will adjust and you will need to exhaust less and less energy as you move forward. You will learn new favorite brands, new go-to snacks, new ways to cook, new ways to meal plan and prep. And as you do, these new skills you are learning will start to become your new defaults. You will gradually learn new skills and lose your old ones.

The reason I feel it is important to talk about this is — I don’t want you to feel discouraged or give up because it feels hard, or maybe even impossible. I want you to know that is normal, and you should even expect it. The best thing you can do is plan ahead. Plan your meals ahead, plan your grocery list ahead, and even put together an action-plan ahead of cooking your meals.

What I mean by action plan is this:

What are the steps you need to take to prepare a certain meal or recipe? What do you need to do first? Second? Third? After that? What ingredients do you need for each step? How long will each step take? Laying all of this out in a step-by-step way will help you take the guesswork out of it. What you are preparing may very well be entirely new for you, so if you prepare yourself ahead of time it will make it less overwhelming. Sort of like studying for an exam…if you prepare ahead of time, when it comes time for the test you’ll feel ready and be confident that you can conquer it.

For example, let’s say I want to make some black bean stuffed peppers. This is how I would map it out:

  1. Study the recipe. Read it through a few times, until you know the steps pretty well. This will allow you to spend more time doing and less time trying to figure it out as you go.
  2. Get out your ingredients, and divide based on steps. When I make these I stuff them with brown rice, black beans, corn, tomatoes, onion and garlic. So the first step would be to start the rice because that takes the longest to cook.
  3. While the rice is cooking, I would spray an oven-safe dish and set it aside. Then cut the tops off and clean out the peppers and set them inside the dish.
  4. When the rice is close to finished cooking, I would put the rest of the ingredients in a pan, season it, and heat through. Then add the rice when it’s done cooking and mix it all together.
  5. Finally, fill the peppers with the mixture and bake.

Having this action plan lined out according to what takes the longest (getting the rice cooked to stuff the peppers) and the order in which things need done will lessen the time it takes you to prepare it. It will also take some of the overwhelm out of it since you’re learning something new. Once you get the hang of this new way of cooking, these steps will all become second nature and you won’t need to prep or plan ahead. In the meantime, however, this will help you greatly!

As time passes, you will develop new patterns and new routines, so just stay consistent and don’t give up. And keep planning ahead! Planning and being prepared is the best thing you can do when learning something new. Just think of it as taking a class to learn something you’ve always wanted to know. You know it’ll take several weeks to learn all of the information and store it in your memory. The same goes for learning this new healthy lifestyle.

Coming up next is the final step for Get Healthy Month — resources! I will share with you my resources for finding recipes, finding food, finding cleaning products, websites for shopping, and what to find where. Coming up on Monday!

Until then…


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