Last night I attended a show put on by The Minimalists, as they made a tour stop in San Diego. If you haven't checked out their Netflix Documentary yet, aptly entitled "Minimalism" I definitely recommend it! It’s a mind-expanding, feel-good film that has won awards and will inspire you to make some wonderful, simplifying changes to your life.
Anyway, this concept of minimalism is something I started wholly applying to my nutrition coaching practice 2 years ago. The idea that we could avoid, nay, completely cancel out tons of food options to increase our happiness, healthiness and wealthiness was very appealing to me.
Right now the internet has us on information overwhelm. The amount of food facts, free recipes and supplement options used to make me feel like I was drowning. One could go broke trying to keep up with each and every new detox trend and pretty food blog. But I don’t let any of that happen anymore.
The secret? Well, I’ll get to that. But first let me paint a picture for you.
Let's lay the scene:
In an earnest effort to increase one’s health, a well–meaning person takes a hip new dinner recipe, freshly plucked from a popular Pinterest board, and heads to the grocery store. Upon entering, the health–seeker immediately goes into a state of near hypnosis.
There are rows upon rows of beautiful and exotic produce. Past this section there are many more, all beckoning with loud labels screaming today’s top–trending “health” buzz words. Unprepared for all of this, the health–seeker is overtaken. His weekly budget doesn’t stand a chance.
Tossed into the cart are pickled rutabagas (previously available only in Sweden) because they are said to help prevent cancer. Rainbow beets the store has just debuted onto their shelves must be acquired too because, well, they are just so darn pretty! And of course, 37 of the 38 different ingredients required to make the aforementioned Pinterest recipe are dutifully sourced and thrown into the shopping cart as well, because, of course, none of them are in the pantry/spice cabinet at home.
Sounds expensive right? And bewildering? So many of us have been there. Inevitably within two days of this wildly stressful excursion, after the really cool, edgy, meal that gave the entire family indigestion has been created and consumed, our dear health-seeker opens his fridge, only to find there is nothing inside that he is actually interested in eating.
And so, more money that week ends up getting spent as our hungry on ordering dinner from Postmates and going out to eat each day during lunch break.
It's a cycle of crazy, and it needs to stop.
Here is how. I introduce to you, the minimalist food shopping experience.
The Minimalistic Rules of Grocery Shopping
1) Write out a shopping list. A big part of being a cool and calm minimalist–minded shopper is about being prepared for the hypnotic visual marketing onslaught before ever stepping foot in the door. Also, this list should be based off your nutrition strategy for the week.
This strategy is also something that has already been prepared; it is a thorough game plan created to target and accomplish the your specific health and fitness goals. Example: let’s say you have set a goal to eat one piece of fruit each morning with breakfast, and have one more later as an afternoon snack. Therefore, the list will be written to include 14 pieces of fruit.
2) Make an evergreen veggie list. We know we need to eat our veggies. So instead of being lured in by something weird and exotic you’ve never tried before just because some magazine tells you it’s good for you, make an evergreen list of your top 3 all–time favorite vegetables.
This short but oh so crucial list MUST be comprised of the 3 vegetables that you would be at least semi–excited to quickly grab from your fridge and eat in their raw state. It doesn't matter what vegetables they are, they just have to be raw and hold your long–standing favor.
So the next time you are standing in the produce aisle, gazing at a plant that is half tantalizing, half scary–looking, just keep pushing your cart and look the other way. That’s right, put the pretty rambutan down, and just walk away. You can do it. I believe in you.
3) Stick to the script. You made your shopping list for a reason. In order to stick to your budget and hold yourself accountable to your health goals. These are noble acts, honor them, and honor yourself for both making them AND being bold enough to follow through. By doing so, you are breaking through “grocery store hypnosis” and have already separated yourself from the pack. This is awesome and you should be proud of yourself. I sure am :)
4) Make adjustments next week. If something didn’t work, i.e., you ran out of a given food too early, or you got too many breakfast items and not enough for snacks, revise and try again. You will get there, you will figure out what works for your unique taste buds, schedule, metabolism and goals, you just to have to remain patient with yourself, even if everything doesn’t work perfectly the first time.
Too often we decide we decide to make a change in our lives, so we take action, and then? We want to see immediate results. But it doesn’t always work that way. Often there is a learning curve we must go through. But it is worth it, and the life you want to live and the healthy body you are doing all of this for is right on the other side of that learning curve.
5) Stop Worrying. Concerned about not being well-rounded since you are going to start eating the same 3 vegetableseach week? Are you worried you will not consume all the proper micronutrients needed to function? To this I ask you: Were these concerns at the forefront of your thinking when you only drank coffee for breakfast and lunch and then ordered take out every night last week?
Slow down there tiger. You’ll be okay. Don’t attempt to go from zero to hero with your eating habits. Adopting a few real, grounded healthy habits is far better, and has a much higher chance of long–term success, than attempting to go from an absolutely terrible diet to a pristine, perfect one all in one shot.
Further, what is perfect for one person isn’t always perfect for someone else. When you stop worrying, relax, and take your time putting the pieces together as to what fits YOU best, you will get resistance out of the way that may be blocking your own individual, minimalistic eating path. Lastly, if you still feel you need to hedge your micros, pop a multivitamin, and fugetaboutit :)
6) Take a week off from being foodie. If you think of yourself as a foodie, but you also want to lose weight, source your entertainment elsewhere for one week, other than food. Observe the shifts that occur in your health and in your perspective with food. If you are nervous about leading a mundane life without the promise of new foods each week to mix things up, remember this: there will always be a few flavors you enjoy more than any others. Therefore it is not the worst thing in the world to be a bit routine with your food, as long as they are foods you enjoy.
That is all for today my loves, implement these rules and I promise your grocery shopping experience will become less expensive AND way less stressful.
ALSO! Don’t think I forgot you my Ab lovers! Here is this week’s Ab Lab exercise! You can do it right at home with a dish towel, stability ball, paper plates, or even some thick socks or slippers! Enjoy!
In Good Health!