Don’t get around to following a healthy, balanced diet because you don't have time to shop for and prepare the foods these diets require?
Unfortunately, if you really want to change your diet and lifestyle, you need to take a long, hard look at your current circumstances.
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
Do you really want to improve your diet? Do you really want to lose weight?
If you answer “Yes”, you'll have to make some changes to your busy programme. But rest assured that none of these changes are difficult or time-consuming.
The first step is to keep the following in mind:
- You're the one who wants to or needs to change your diet to improve your health and/or to lose weight. No one else can do this for you.
- You need to make provision to obtain the healthy and low-fat foods you require on a monthly or weekly basis.
- You need to take responsibility for this change in eating habits, which includes buying the correct foods.
All it takes is some planning and if you're such a busy, high-powered person, you're probably excellent at planning schedules and programmes. Apply your organising skills to the present problem of obtaining foods that will improve your diet.
1) Obtain an example of a healthy, balanced eating plan (for example: click here for a low-fat, high-fibre diet that's good for weight loss and can also be used as a basic low-fat diet to treat heart disease and problems with insulin).
2) Make a list of the basic foods you need to have readily available in your cupboard or pantry or freezer, i.e. foods that can be stored for longer periods:
- Ready-to-eat high-bran breakfast cereals, oats (instant varieties are good if you need to save time on cooking), Wheatbix or unsifted maize meal and Maltabella (for weekends when you can cook your breakfast porridge)
- High-fibre starches such as brown rice, crushed wheat, pasta made from 100% durum wheat
- Wholewheat, rye, rice or maize crackers
- Sliced low-GI, wholewheat or rye bread, or rolls (Freeze in portion sizes that you require. For example if you are living alone, you may need only 6 slices a day -two for breakfast and four for sandwiches at lunch. Take your daily portion out of the freezer every evening and store in the fridge. By morning the bread will have defrosted and be ready for toasting or for making those sandwiches.)
- Fat-free, long-life milk for times when you run out of fresh fat-free milk
- Frozen fat-free yoghurt
- Fruit juice and dried fruit
- Fruit canned in juice
- Canned vegetables such as tomato and onion, tomato paste and green beans
- Frozen vegetables like broccoli, spinach, peas, beans, pumpkin and mixed vegetables
- Lean meat (freeze fat-free mince, ostrich, small portions of steak or pork chops with all visible fat removed)
- Lean, thinly sliced cold cuts (roast beef, Pastrami or roast pork) or Like-it-Lean products (pack into portions and freeze)
- Ready-to eat, low-fat frozen meals (Woolworths has an excellent range)
- Tuna, salmon or pilchards canned in brine, water or tomato sauce
- Frozen fish and calamari (buy plain without crumbs or batter)
- Skinned chicken breasts (pack into portions and freeze)
- Canned beans, peas and lentils of all types
- Textured vegetable protein products (Toppers etc.)
- Lite margarine or Flora Pro-Activ margarine (the latter helps to lower blood cholesterol levels) and Spray & Cook for preparing fat-free dishes
- Low-fat salad dressings
- Olive, canola or avocado oil
- Lite or low-GI jam, or honey
- Sugar-free cold drinks or spring water, and soda water
- Sugar-free gum
- Sugar-free jelly
- Canned gherkins, mustard and tomato sauce for flavouring
Buy these foods once a month when you go on your big shopping trip.
3) Make a list of foods that you need to buy on a weekly basis (i.e. foods that you can store in the fridge, not in the freezer):
- Fat-free milk, yoghurt and cottage cheese
- Fresh fruit and vegetables, including ready-to eat salads
- Fresh low-GI, wholewheat or rye bread (if you prefer fresh bread)
- Fresh fish (if available)
4) Plan when you're going to do your big monthly shopping trip and when you do your weekly shopping trip.
If you're not able to do your weekly shopping, then delegate. Type out a shopping list and get your PA or secretary or domestic assistant to do the shopping for you. You can also order food to be delivered to your home or office by certain supermarkets such as Pick n Pay and Woolworths.
As most stores stay open for long hours on a daily basis and over weekends, shopping is much more accessible than it used to be. If you plan your schedule, you should still be able to pop in to a supermarket on your way home or over lunch.
5) Write out a schedule for making those foods that you need to prepare on a weekly or daily basis.
Many meals need hardly any preparation, e.g. breakfast: fruit juice, instant oats with fat-free milk or yoghurt, wholewheat toast with Lite margarine and Lite jam or cottage cheese, and a cup of coffee or tea.
Other meals need minimum preparation, e.g. lunch: fresh fruit, wholewheat sandwich with Lite margarine, thinly sliced beef, lettuce and cucumber, fat-free yoghurt and a cup of coffee or tea. All you need to prepare is the sandwich which should take about 3 minutes if you have the basic ingredients available.
Some meals need a bit of preparation, e.g. supper: grilled fish with baked potato, mixed vegetables and a fruit. If you use the microwave to prepare the potato and mixed vegetables and grill the fish, this meal shouldn't take more than 20 minutes to cook.
You can also plan your programme in such a way that you cook certain dishes when you have the time, like over weekends, and freeze them for use during your busy week. Make pasta and vegetable bakes, or lean meat or fish and vegetable stews, or cooked legume dishes and freeze in portions for later use.
– (Dr I.V. van Heerden, DietDoc, updated November 2008)
Any questions? Ask DietDoc