Playing tricks on yourself to get healthy
LIVING NATURALLY with Olwen Anderson
YOUR parents probably didn't confess to this.
And, most likely, you won't be admitting this to your children either. After all, your parents had the best intentions and so do you.
But once you become a parent you realise you're going to have to engage in that duplicitous practice: hiding healthy food in your toddler's meals, because for sure they're going to reject out of hand any food that even remotely resembles a vegetable.
The trick works, it seems, judging by the way it's been passed down through the generations. But even as an adult, it's not easy to make yourself eat healthy food that is more time consuming to prepare than convenience foods.
Take salad, for example. Most of us agree that a salad for lunch would be a good thing. But when lunchtime arrives it just seems too much trouble. And it's exhausting to argue with yourself about making the better choice.
So instead you reach for sliced bread, and with a nod to healthy eating include a couple of slices of tomato and a leaf of iceberg lettuce to make a "salad” sandwich.
It would be easier to eat salad instead if someone just magically handed you the prepared meal on a plate. But, restaurants aside, that's not what is likely to happen in real life.
You can play a trick on yourself, though, to create a similar experience that gets you eating healthier food more regularly. The technique is a little different for those eating lunch at home, and those who take a packed lunch.
For the former, the trick is to chop up your salad vegetables at breakfast time, pop them into an airtight container in the fridge. Then, all you have to do at lunch is upend the prepared salad onto a plate and add the dressing.
For those who take a packed lunch, shift that salad preparation to the night before. While you're chopping vegetables for dinner, chop up tomorrow's salad and refrigerate. Then, in the morning, all you have to do is pop the prepared salad in your lunch bag.
One reason this method works is through avoiding the inevitable struggle to produce a healthy meal when you're feeling tired and over-wrought. If you find this sneaky technique works for you, then why not extend it to eating a healthier egg-and-vegetable breakfast with the hard work of food preparation already done the night before?
* Olwen Anderson is a naturopath and counsellor and a columnist with the Tweed Daily News. Contact her at www.olwenanderson.com.au