When the Australian Dietary Guidelines were redeveloped by the Government not so long ago, the focus groups that were conducted delivered some interesting findings. They found that the main barriers to healthy eating for your average busy Australian were as follows:
- Lack of time
- Lack of cooking skills
- Fresh, healthy food perceived as too expensive
Yes, everyone’s perception is their reality, however, it’s clear we need to look after our bodies as well as our wallets! And before we even get to this point, not having the necessary skills to put together a meal (or the time required to do so) means we are effectively starting behind the eight ball. As busy professionals, these challenges are with us every day. Energy and fitness levels should remain high so that we can maintain consistent work output on a daily basis as what we eat has a significant effect on how our brain works. Did you know that your diet affects: - the brain neurochemistry that controls mood and response to stress - the way your brain and body interact - the higher brain functions that control learning, memory and intellectual functioning So it’s easy to see how eating high fat low energy foods can negatively impact your working day. Unfortunately, our carbohydrate intake is increasing but not because of white bread and pasta – more so the fact that we are eating more packaged snack food bars that contain starches and sugar. These bars are go anywhere, eat anywhere foods; it is purely the simplicity of throwing them in your bag or car so that they fill a hole when you don't have the time. When we do actually cook, our repertoire of meals sits at around five in total. We don't experiment with ingredients or flavours and therefore stick to a few favourites that get us through. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this other than boredom is sure to set in which will stop us cooking even more! We are already eating out, getting takeaway or buying ready to eat supermarket meals at least 2.5 times a week. As time poor as we are, we do need to find ways to keep up the required energy levels by feeding our brain whilst sticking to a budget – is there an easy way to do this? Buying healthy doesn't have to cost the earth. Whilst its absolutely true you can purchase high fat, low energy meals such as sausages, pizza and hamburgers relatively cheaply, purchasing healthy ingredients or meals can be cost effective; you just need to start planning.
- Stay organized and be a savvy shopper – only buy what you need
- Plan your meals and stick to your plan!
- Buy fresh fruit and vegetables in season
- Find quality, taste and value for money in healthy, nutritious ready made meals.
The hardest part is making the change, and once you get in to the swing of things, you might just find you have reinvigorated a passion for healthy eating.