In this day and age athletes can not feign ignorance to excuse their poor dietary habits. While it may not be entirely obvious what exactly you should eat, you may be aware of a general trend. Eat more whole foods from local sources, such as vegetables, fruits and high quality grain supplemented with sustainably and humanely raised animal meats. However, a common complaint I received from teammates all the time while competing is that they just don’t have time time to cook. I am going to give you a couple pragmatic tips you can use right now to have the time to cook both healthy and delicious meals.
1. Do all of your cooking on ONE day per week- I mentioned the concept of batching before in a previous post. It is a very powerful concept that can be used in all aspects of your life to drastically improve your efficiency. No matter what activity you do, there is always an associated start up fee. So for example for cooking, the activity in it of itself is not that tedious. I actually love cooking! I hate cleaning though! So if you can complete all your cooking on one day per week then you are only setting up and cleaning up your cooking apparatus once per week. Let’s say you were previously cooking breakfast and dinner every day individually, and it takes ~ 5 minutes to set up and then clean up afterwards. You would be spending ~ 10 min/day and 70 min/week just cleaning and setting up for cooking!!! However, if you are only cooking once per week you reduce your total cleaning/setting up time substantially (for this example 65 min!). This does take a little bit more organization and planning, but for the amount of time you save it is well worth it!
2. Make Baby Steps – If you have almost zero experience cooking, do not try to become a gourmet chef overnight. That is a recipe for disaster. Follow the KISS principle (keep it simple stupid). When I first started cooking for myself during my sophomore year of college, I exclusively used frozen vegetables and fruits (much easier to prepare). Also, initially I maintained a very routine diet because it is much easier to plan and prepare if you are eating the same thing the vast majorities of the time. As you get into a routine and become more experienced then of course experiment but do not overwhelm yourself at the beginning.
Bonus – This is not really a tip to make more time for cooking, but another common complaint I get is that if your eating the same meals over and over again then you start to get sick of the 1-3 meals you are keeping in rotation. A great way to add variety is to experiment with using different spices and herbs while cooking. It is amazing how quickly your taste receptors become attuned to the subtle differences between different combinations of spices and herbs and how much pleasure this brings. Another great benefit of using herbs and spices is that this is a great and relatively cheap method (compared to buying fancy and expensive supplements) to boost the nutritional profile of your meals!
I hope this article gave you some actionable items that you can use to make time to cook and to take control of your health and your body. If you have any questions please make a comment below, and if there is any specific topic you would like me to discuss let me know.Lastly, always feel free to reach out to me on facebook or linkedIn (Pavan Mehat) or shoot me an email at email@example.com.