I’m going to come forward right now and say that for a good two years, I was that vegetarian (eventually vegan) that paid minimal attention to her diet. There was no planning. No thought. No weekly HelloFresh box to ensure a bit of balance.
Just me and my fondness for bagels. Granola. Any form of breakfast for dinner.
I’ve been into fitness for years now, so you could say “I got away with it.” Although that’s a very poor way to look at nutrition and self-fuelling, especially in the long term.
It took me embarking on the #75HARD Challenge earlier this year (more on this here), to comprehend exactly what goes into an optimal vegan diet, especially for a highly active individual.
By tracking my macros, I began to understand the power of food like I never have before. How it plays into performance, and also, how I can manipulate my meals throughout the day to hit sufficient energy targets.
Vital as those lessons were, it also reminded me why it took so long to get here: that shit (tracking, reading nutrition labels, planning for meals out) takes time. And so much of it.
It’s true that the grass is greener where you water it. So the more you eat well, the easier it is to do. Here’s the catch 22. Just because you’ve trained your body to crave nutrient-dense food, doesn’t mean you’ll skip the leftover pizza.
That’s like telling a bunch of cavemen they can either forage for more food, or eat from the trees they’re sitting under. We might be simple creatures, but we’re not stupid. We’re going to expend less energy and choose the low-hanging fruit.
Fuelling yourself properly is much alike to fuelling a little kid properly. You’ve got to get a little cheeky about it. No, you don’t have to hide veggies in a pile of hot chips and nuggets. But you do have to make the nutrient-dense food just as convenient, if not more convenient, than the ulterior.
If you’ve got some cooked tempeh ready to go, and you’re starving, guess what. You’ll eat it. Because not even Uber Eats can satisfy with the same immediacy.
“If you know that convenience drives your decision-making,
make the food you should eat most convenient.”
But if the tempeh ain’t cooked, and you’ve got some leftover pizza sitting there, guess what – you’ll eat that too. It’s not bad. You shouldn’t get mad at yourself for it. That right there is human nature.
And hey, if it’s not the output you want, then ding, ding, ding! It’s time to change the input.
If you know that convenience drives your decision-making, especially in vulnerable states, make the food you should eat most convenient.
Enter the final habit that changed the game for me.
I BEGAN MEAL PREPPING/PLANNING.
Firstly, on a Sunday, like the rest of Instagram. Soon enough, I recruited ye old pals at HelloFresh to help a girl out. Disclaimer: I tried a food delivery service when I first arrived in Melbourne. I was vegetarian at the time (not yet vegan), and I remember being less than impressed by the options available.
A couple of years later, and I don’t regret handing out the second chance. I was incredibly surprised by just how many veggie/plant-based options HelloFresh offers today.
Some recipes even let you sub out dairy or meat-based ingredients – and you’re left with more than leafy greens when you do.
Some of the meals I’ve ordered through HelloFresh are now staples in my diet (and that says a lot, as someone who eats PB&J back-to-back). I had a fabulous minestrone soup the other day. It took about 15 minutes to prepare, despite the use of entirely fresh ingredients. I felt amazing because I made it, and contrary to lots of things I make, it actually tasted great.
Aside from veggie options, I was skeptical of one more thing. Check the nutritional information of your meals, and you’ll notice the [calorie + protein] density varies significantly throughout the week.
As it turns out, this is actually one of the pros of ordering with HelloFresh. Myself and my partner have cooked our own meals (most nights) for years. In part because we enjoy different things. It’s also more stress than it’s worth to align our nutritional needs.
I’ve appreciated being able to shift dinner plans with such ease. No need to go out and buy new ingredients, or settle for a dish we don’t crave nor need.
So good on you, HelloFresh.
I’m sorry for being skeptical. I take it back. And I thank you: for injecting some fun moments into this lockdown life and for seeing that I enjoy time in the kitchen again. For the exact 20-30 minute bracket that I so prefer.
In short, I highly recommend the service. Especially if like me, your nutrition falls the moment you don’t prepare, and also, you value a free Sunday.
To conclude this two-parter, if you asked me what’s the best thing you can do for your health and wellbeing today, here’s how I’d answer.
I’d say, identify your values. And then, prepare as much as you can, for the ways in which you’ll honour them.
Simple as that.
Missed Part 1? Read Part 1: Intentions + Values.
Features paid partnership with HelloFresh. All opinions are my own.