When you’re chasing a vibrant health and a more minimalist life, you may struggle with keeping these two goals in balance. It may seem that they are contradictory, pulling in different directions, as if we can’t have both.
After all, in today’s world, the notion of health often comes with a lot of baggage, literally and metaphorically. The multi-billion-dollar health and wellness industry is thriving, and slick advertising is telling us that we need x, y, and z in order to be healthy, fit, and happy. But that’s simply not the case.
The truth is: you can live a simple life and be joyfully nourished, enjoying good health each and every day…even if you have chronic health issues, which often come with a suitcase full of healing accoutrements.
And I know, because I’ve done it!
As someone that lives with a complex illness, I’ve gone down the health-hoarding route, and I know that it’s not the only way to feel better. I’ve had shelves packed with supplements and a pantry packed with expensive superfoods, pills, and powders.
I’ve played the game with fancy snacks and elaborate meal plans. And while I may have felt a little better physically, all that clutter and stress certainly wasn’t helping my mental or emotional health.
All the shopping, planning, purchasing, and prepping took its toll. So, after a while, I started paring down on all the complexities of my health regimen, and simplified my diet…and I feel better than I ever have!
How to Simplify Your Diet
If you’re tired of chasing optimal health through expensive specialty foods, or you’ve had enough of taking fistfuls of supplements every day, this post is for you. Here are five ways you can simplify your diet, and streamline your journey to vibrant, sustainable wellbeing:
1. Look for short labels.
One of the easiest and most visual ways that you can simplify your food is by literally eating fewer ingredients. Learn how to read nutrition labels and ingredient lists, and start choosing foods that have short lists of recognizable, pronounceable things. Most simple and wholesome foods don’t have more than ten ingredients, or preferably, don’t even have an ingredient list at all!
2. Eat raw and whole.
Want the simplest food ever? Just pick up a banana, some carrot sticks, or a handful of raw nuts. When you eat foods that are in their natural state, and have not been altered, cooked, packaged, or processed, you’re not only getting superior nutrition, but you’re also keeping things easy on yourself. For me, this has meant lots of easy breakfast smoothies, fresh fruit and veggies for snacks, and big salads for dinner.
3. Find your favorites.
While it can be extremely fun and rewarding to explore new recipes and try new foods, this can be stressful (not to mention, expensive) if you do it too often. Make your meals simple and narrow down your choices to a handful of solid, healthy, and tasty recipes that you and your family love. Rotate these favorites throughout the week, and unless you absolutely adore cooking, minimize your culinary experimentation to 1-2x per month.
4. Plan your meals.
You’ve probably heard this one before, and that’s because it works. If you want to eat nutritious, wholesome foods, while minimizing the amount of shopping, prepping, and last-minute panicking, learn to plan ahead of time. Pick a day and spend a half hour or so organizing meals and recipes for the week, making a corresponding grocery list as you go. This can make your errand-running more efficient, and minimize those desperate drive-thru food moments.
5. Reevaluate your supplementation.
Often, we take way more pills and powders than are actually necessary, especially if we’re already eating a nutrient-dense, whole-foods diet. Depending on your health status, you may want to experiment with reducing your supplement regimen, and increasing your real food intake to make up the difference. This can save you money, shelf space, and mental space too. And remember that no supplement can beat the benefits of a nutritious diet, good sleep habits, and solid stress reduction practices!
When you’ve worked hard to clean out your closet, re-evaluate your calendar, and declutter your décor, having a complicated and expensive diet can stick out like a sore thumb. Thankfully, there is a way to have a simple, minimalist life and be well fed too! With these tips, you can clarify the nutrients that fuel you the best, avoid unhealthy and over-processed foods, and keep the effort to a minimum.
As a health coach, I’ve seen too many people fall into the trap of multiple shopping days per week, pricey supplements, and time-consuming recipes. Even the ones that call themselves minimalists!
I think it’s time that we start extending our minimalist values into our kitchens, and learn how to nourish our bodies with real, affordable, unfussy ingredients, and stop spending so much energy on planning, shopping for, preparing, and eating our food.
Savoring a delicious meal can be one of the many pleasures of a simple life, so let’s not make it harder than it has to be.