When you’re in the midst of a stressful situation, it can be hard to think about cooking a meal, let alone choosing a meal with nutritious ingredients.
Often you’re in a hurry and grab the first thing you see in the pantry, such as a bag of chips or a box of crackers. Or you go through the drive thru of your local fast food chain on your way to work and order a lunch packed full of carbs, fat and salt that far exceed the recommended daily intake.
Sometimes you’re even too busy to take lunch, so you munch on whatever snack foods you can find stashed away in your desk. Or you simply don’t eat at all.
Does this sound familiar?
Do you know what happens to your body when it doesn’t receive the vitamins and nutrients it needs on a regular basis?
Over the short-term, your body begins to experience symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea, muscle weakness, and/or mental confusion or forgetfulness (Mayo Clinic Staff).
Over the long-term, you may be at a higher risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and/or other chronic conditions such as autoimmune diseases, depression, digestive issues, and/or obesity (Benshosan).
Let me ask you a question: If you were packing lunch for your son or daughter to bring to school, would you only pack a bag of chips? Or would you give him money to buy a chocolate bar from the vending machine? Or would you send her to school without a lunch?
You likely answered “no” to the above questions because you want your son or daughter to have the best possible lunch to aid in his or her development, so you try to only pack foods that are nutritious for your child to eat.
But if you pack a nutritious lunch for your child, why would you treat yourself any different?
Your health and well-being is just as important for you to function successfully in daily life as it is for your children. In fact, your body deserves to receive the love and care that you regularly give to others.
But, you might ask, when life gets crazy, who actually has the time and energy to spend hours in the kitchen chopping vegetables, preparing meat, slaving over the hot stove, and cleaning up afterwards?
Let me tell you a secret:
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated.
Yes, you read that right! Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it can be downright simple!
You don’t have to make fancy restaurant-quality meals in order to get all the nutritious ingredients you need. And you certainly don’t have to slave away in the kitchen for hours every day just to prepare a nutritious meal for the family.
Go ahead! Breathe a sigh of relief.
I wish someone had told me this truth years ago before I stumbled onto my own chronic stress journey and had to learn the hard way about how unhealthy eating habits would affect my mental and physical health.
Tap here to read my story with chronic stress and how I broke the cycle.
Wherever you’re at in your own journey with stress, I wrote this blog post to help you create healthier eating habits so you can also get off of the chaotic merry-go-round that stress will keep you prisoner on as you go around and around in a never ending cycle of poor health—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
So how should you go about getting started on creating healthier eating habits each day?
Try these five simple tips:
Make a list of healthy foods and simple recipes that you and your family love and keep it somewhere handy so you can quickly refer to it when you’re in a time crunch.
At the start of each week or before your grocery shop, make an upcoming weekly or biweekly meal plan for breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks. Your meal plan will help you stay focused at meal times and help you avoid making poor impulse decisions. Keep your meal plan simple and use a meal planner app to help you stay organized.
*Note: The app I use for meal planning is MealPlanner for iPhone or Android. What I like about this app is that the free version allows me to create multiple weekly meal plans, create my own recipes or save web links for recipes I find online, and even helps me create a shopping list based on my meal plan.
Create a grocery list based on your meal plan before going grocery shopping and stick to your list. This will help you stay within a budget and help you avoid making poor impulse purchases when you shop. Also, don’t rely on your memory when you’re grocery shopping (especially when you’re feeling stressed), but use a grocery app to help you stick to your list.
*Note: My favourite grocery app is Flipp for iPhone or Android because it connects to digital flyers from stores in my area and allows me to add items from the flyer directly to my grocery list. It’s also a great app for comparing prices between stores. However, since the pandemic began in 2020, I started ordering my groceries online using the PC Express app for iPhone or Android. This app allows me to add items to my cart, create multiple grocery lists, and even remembers items I often purchase based on previous shops.
Keep certain staple foods that you and your family regularly eat well-stocked in your pantry and/or freezer. By ensuring these foods are easily accessible in your home, it will help you to make healthier eating choices when life gets difficult.
Schedule a small amount of time each day and/or one day a month to prepare meals in advance, especially meals you can freeze for later use. This will help you make quick nutritious meal decisions when you’re in a time crunch and need something fast.
Before you go, don’t forget to grab my FREE Simple & Nutritious Meal Plan Ideas to Get You through Stressful Times to help you get through your own stress journey.
And remember these helpful tips:
- Your meal plan doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep it simple.
- Establish better eating habits when your life is going well so that you can fall back on these habits when life gets hard.
- And most importantly, take time to take care of yourself each day, especially when you are feeling stressed.
If you found this post helpful, you may also enjoy these posts about stress:
- Chronic Stress: What It Does to Your Health and How to Get It under Control
- How Chronic Stress Nearly Took My Life and How I Took It Back
- 50+ Quotes to Live By When You are Feeling Stressed
- The Stress Monster: When Stress Has a Chokehold on Your Life
- Stuck on a Crazy Train
- Choosing to Live a Contemplative Lifestyle
- Be Still: Finding Peace in Times of Trouble
- Benshosan, April, “20 Health Issues That Are a Sign of a Bad Diet.” December 13, 2020. Eat This, Not That. <https://www.eatthis.com/health-complications-bad-diet/>
- Mayo Clinic Staff, “Vitamin Deficiency Anemia.” December 10, 2019. Mayo Clinic <https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vitamin-deficiency-anemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355025>