Success Strategies:

The Food Ritual

One secret to success in body transformation is keeping it simple. Thinking less. Making fewer decisions. And letting your environment do much of the work for you.

If healthy food is around you and convenient, you're more likely to eat it. If you have a trusted system for making healthy food available, you don't have to decide to eat well… you just show up and do it.

Enter the food ritual.

No, this ritual doesn't include lamb's blood or any special Kool Aid.

A food ritual just means you set aside a bit of time to prepare some healthy food in advance so that it's ready, available, and convenient when you need it.

We also created a cool visual guide. Check out the infographic here…

Option 1: The Sunday Ritual

You don't have to do this on Sunday, of course. You can choose any day you like.

It's just that Sunday is often a time when people are more free, more relaxed, and more able to devote time to this type of task. And it's a time when we're usually thinking ahead to the upcoming week.

Whatever day you choose, set aside 2-3 hours to do the following.

  • Look ahead to your upcoming schedule and see what's happening. What challenges or opportunities might pop up? Where might you need some special preparation in advance? What are the quiet and busy times? Etc.
  • Come up with a general menu for at least the next few days. It doesn't have to be anything in-depth. Just get a basic sense of what you might need to have on hand for the week ahead.
  • Build your shopping list from your menu. This will help you be as effective and efficient as possible when you tackle the store, and you'll be less tempted to buy random (and unhelpful) things.
  • Hit the grocery store. Stock up on what you need for the week. Consider grabbing a few extra "just in case" emergency items as well, such as canned beans, frozen vegetables, or other easily-stored healthy options that you can use in a pinch.
  • Once you're back home, start prepping and cooking. Whip up a batch of lean protein -- for example, by grilling or roasting several chicken breasts at once. Try some one-pot meals that can be easily cooked in a slow cooker, then divided into containers and frozen or refrigerated, such as soups, stews, curries, chili, etc. Wash and chop veggies.

It takes as much time to roast several chicken breasts as it does to roast one.

Some people choose to prepare almost all their meals for the week on Sundays. Others prefer to figure out which meals will be easy to cook just prior to meal time and save them for later, preparing only meals that they might need for busy times (such as lunches at work).

Do what works best for YOU and your schedule.

If possible, give yourself a little extra buffer zone. You never know what unexpected challenge might strike at 6pm on Wednesday, and when it does, you'll be glad you socked away an extra meal in the freezer.

Option 2: The Daily Ritual

You can combine the Sunday Ritual with the Daily Ritual -- for example, by preparing the labor-intensive staples such as lean protein on Sunday, and then adding some quick-prep items (such as fruit and veggies) every day

It often takes about as much time to prepare a few items as it does to prepare one. For example, it's nearly as fast to chop 3 carrots as it is to chop 1, or to scramble 6 eggs instead of 2. During the Daily Ritual, you can prep a few extra items to have on hand for later in the day, or the following day.

Try a Morning Ritual where you whip up a fast-cook bowl of oatmeal or a blender omelet.

  • Shake up your dry oatmeal and any other items (e.g. ground flax seeds, cinnamon, protein powder, other grains, etc.) in a large container.
  • In the morning, scoop out the dry mix, pour in some water, and pop it in the microwave. (Or check out our quick-cooking-grains tip below.) Top with fruit, add more protein if you like (e.g. cottage cheese, Greek yogurt) and enjoy a hearty stick-to-your-ribs breakfast.

  • Whiz up some eggs in a blender (with some veggies if you like) to create a sort of "egg Super Shake". Pour and cook. You can prep this egg mix a few days in advance, keep it in a jar in the fridge, and just pour out as you need it.

It's easy to prep a salad that won't go soggy during the day. Simply take a large jar and pour the dressing into the bottom. Then add veggies, top with greens, and make sure the jar stays refrigerated and upright throughout the day. When you're ready to eat it, shake it up and pour it into a bowl (or heck, eat it right out of the jar!).

Or try a Dinner Ritual where you simply make extra portions and save the rest for tomorrow. Again, it doesn't take much more time to prepare a few extra things, so cook in bulk where possible.

Tip! Cooking whole grains can be time-consuming... unless you use our quick-prep secret. If you'd like to cook up some whole grains quickly, dump them into a large bowl, add enough water to cover them plus a couple of inches, and leave them on the counter or in the fridge overnight (or during the day while you're away at work). When you're ready to cook the grains, pop them into a pot on the stove, or into the microwave (adding extra water if needed), and they'll cook in a snap.

Option 3: Healthy meal services

Depending on what you can afford, consider a healthy meal delivery service, even if only for one or two meals a day. If you don't enjoy cooking, or are very busy, you might find that removing the hassle of meal prep is worth quite a bit of money to you when you add up all the time and worry you might spend on it.

Many grocery stores -- from your average Safeway or Loblaws to more upscale Whole Foods type places -- now offer a wide range of grab-and-go options such as salad bars, prewashed baby veggies, or individually portioned lean protein options. There are also many specialty food store chains that specialize in healthy food takeout and delivery.

Or consider a regular healthy meal delivery service. Again, even one meal a day during your busiest or most challenging times might be worth it, and might mean the difference between a delicious, nourishing, physique-friendly lunchtime salad and another regrettable fast-food run.

Google "healthy meal delivery" in your area and see what pops up.

Do what works best for YOU.

You can mix and match all of these options, in any way that works for you.

Anticipate, plan, strategize. This is the way of the PN warrior. Have fun!