The Evolution Of Eating
Ever wondered: What’s a ‘good’ meal? Well, it depends on where you’re starting.
Ever wondered: What’s a balanced meal? It depends on where you’re starting.
Start with what you want and need.
Imagine the kinds of meals that could work best for you right now—based on your lifestyle, your goals, your nutritional level, what you enjoy, etc.
Then, work backwards.
What might you need to plan and prepare to make some of those balanced meals happen?
Keep it simple
Start with a handful of simple “go-to” meals that you like and can easily prepare.
Then, build out from there. Add a new meal at a time when you feel ready and want some variety.
Most importantly, whatever you make, enjoy it, savor slowly and mindfully, and eat to 80% full.
Food doesn’t come with in-grown morals. There are no “good” or “bad” foods. Instead, we have a continuum of foods from “better choices” to “worse choices”; healthier to unhealthier.
“Better choices” have more nutrients, are eaten more mindfully and deliberately, and are selected with care and purpose to meet your goals.
Each meal in the series below represents a different “stage” in an evolution from worse to better. They’re examples of how meals could evolve over time and practice.
What to look for in the evolution of meals
As you look at the images and how the meals evolve gradually over time, notice:
- the foods that are chosen
- the portion sizes
- where and how they’re eaten (e.g. by the computer, at a table, etc.)
- how much care and attention goes into each meal (which meals seem more mindful or relaxed?)
- how each meal is a small evolution from the previous one—not a huge leap
Where are your meals now on the continuum? Where could they be?
Once upon a time … you started your day with a whipped-cream coffee drink and a chocolate croissant. Maybe eaten in your car, on the go.
Where could you go from there over the course of a year?
Let’s see . . .
You could replace the croissant with a whole grain muffin. And the super-duper epic “dessert in a cup” with a regular coffee. Add a yogurt for a bit of protein.
Naturally, you’re still rushed and busy . . . so you eat it with some distractions.
Then, perhaps you decide to switch the muffin to granola with cottage cheese. Try black coffee (with a little sugar). And a couple servings of colorful fruit.
Of course, you’re still checking out the news headlines while you eat . . .
Finally, maybe a year later, you’re setting aside time to enjoy a leisurely breakfast of an egg frittata, which you prepped in advance on your food prep day.
The coffee’s become green tea. The protein plus colorful fruit and veg have become the stars of the meal.
And you’ve discovered you really like lemon water.
You eat mindfully, feeling relaxed, while watching the sun rise.
“Eat slowly? Are you sloth-people crazy?! Who has time for that during a busy workday?! Grab a burger and go!”
“Fine, fine. I’ll get a side salad with that burger, and maybe just a few potato chips, while I work on that report.
“Oh yeah, and throw in a diet soda instead of regular.”
“Hey! You can make your own burger and it’s pretty good! I whipped up the patties on my food prep day so I have them handy.
“And I got some nice cheese and whole grain buns from the local market. Pretty darn good.”
“Let’s do the burger with some veggies. And I’m going to sit, take my time, and enjoy this. I need a quiet break from the day.
“What to drink? Oh, water’s good.”
It’s 8 p.m. You just got home after an insane day at work. All you want to do is put food into your face and zone out in front of the TV.
You can’t even imagine making anything more complicated than boxed macaroni ‘n’ cheese right now.
Ketchup and hot dogs will fancy this up.
Your protein’s evolved to a rotisserie chicken leg that you grabbed at the grocery store on the way home.
You’ve added a side salad. And you’re getting pretty good at cooking your own pasta.
Work is still on your mind, and a few drinks will take the edge off.
Protein and veggies are starting to find their way on to the scene.
You’ve cut the booze to 1 drink.
And you’ve banished the smartphone from the dinner table. (Hey! You’re actually sitting at the dinner table!)
With your meal planning and prep strategies, even a late-night dinner looks good.
You can whip up a delicious salad in 3 minutes flat and have some pre-cooked quinoa on hand.
That rotisserie chicken is still a fast, convenient option, but now it’s got some healthy buddies.
The wine (you’re indulging in the nicer stuff these days) is there for flavor now, rather than taking the edge off. ‘Cause after a year of learning, listening, practicing, planning, prepping, and strategizing … you’re handling your stress like a champ!
Be just a little bit better
Notice that the final image in each series is an ideal.
Most of us may never have all our meals look like that. And that’s OK.
But . . . what if we tried going in that direction, slowly?
What if we tried to make just one meal a week like that ideal?
What if we tried to make our regular everyday meals just a little bit better, one step at a time (for instance, by sitting down at a table to eat)?
Well. That’d be pretty awesome.
Plan, prepare, strategize
This habit isn’t about “rules” or “eating on a schedule”.
It’s about being prepared. Healthy eating doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s about feeling in control of your choices. Helping YOU learn what YOU need to succeed.
It’s about being just a little bit better, every day.
It’s about keeping it real. Enjoying what you love. And revising what’s not working for you.