Happy Hump Day Ya’ll! We hope that this week has been going well for you all so far. We’re almost to the weekend! Every Wednesday we’ll be sharing articles by someone within our community. For this first week, I asked my friend Long to write a little something to share how he manages cooking Paleo meals for himself in his busy schedule as a physician. I’ve always found his meals to be super creative and artistic (based on the photos he shares on his Instagram) and I bet the food tastes as good as they look! Long has been an athlete with us for over three years and you can usually find him in the evening classes at FCF. Check it out!
“You want me to not eat rice? That sounds ridiculous. And impossible.
The first time I heard about the Paleo diet, I equated to it as the fastest way to make my Vietnamese mother disown me by not eating her delicious noodle dishes or ginormous rice platters. Can you imagine me telling my mother to bring me the pho without the noodles? = immediate stank eye.
I first heard of and started the Paleo diet around May 2012. I was doing CrossFit at FCF for a good year already and had been fighting for as long as possible to not put myself through the presumptive misery. I guess at that point, I was ready for a change in my life and nutrition. I was finishing 11 non-stop years of becoming a physician. For the first time, I was about to have a normal week day schedule and not be on call or do weekly all nighters to study for exams. Or perhaps I had just broken up with my ex boyfriend and lost my mind and wanted to go low carb. (You’ve been there. I know.)
Anyway, that’s a whole ‘nother story. What turned out to be a month “trial” or “challenge” turned into a nutritional lifestyle change for me. Even before the Paleo challenge, I was a decent and healthy home cook; but Paleo forced me to be more creative with my cooking ingredients and to pay more attention to the details of the foods I was consuming. It helped me cut out daily consumptions of high glycemic index carbohydrates such as white rice, breads, pastas, and sugars and to incorporate more vegetables, low glycemic index starches, and more healthy fats and protein. The Paleo challenge turned out to not just be a mental, sensory and physical challenge but also a culinary experience.
2 years after switching to the Paleo lifestyle
However, I think the hardest part isn’t so much the entire month of Paleo, but what happens afterwards. How we continue to thrive on a wholesome, balanced healthy diet on a day to day basis is the biggest challenge of all. I work from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm four days a week. I’m an on-site young professional like most of you at the gym. I sympathize and empathize with all of you regarding how difficulty it is to maintain a healthy diet and exercise. After a long day at work, and dragging your ass to the gym, all you want is a fucking burger and fries. Is that too much to ask? As your friend: NO, As your doctor: depends on how many burgers a week.
Sheena (heyyyy boo) asked me to write this article to touch on how I manage to work a full time job, do evening CrossFit, and cook myself healthy meals consistently. The truth is: there is no easy way. Maintaining a healthy and strong physique takes time, planning and dedication.
Paleo? AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT! One of the biggest issues with healthy eating is TIME. TIME TO GO GROCERY SHOPPING, TIME TO COOK, TIME TO CLEAN. I’m exhausted writing all that already. I always take time to go grocery shopping at least 2 times per week. It’s a part of my weekend and mid-week ritual. Time and planning go hand in hand. I usually plan my meals for the week in 2-3 day intervals since I do not like to eat left overs after 3 days. (I know, what kind of Asian am I?).
Here are a cluster of tips:
1. I buy all my veggies at the beginning of the week. If kept in the right environment, most vegetables can last up to 5-7 days. I try to buy veggies that I can easily throw olive oil/ salt & pepper on and throw in the oven and walk away such as: cauliflower, broccolini, sweet potatoes, asparagus, brussels sprouts. I always have a pre-washed bag/ box of leafy greens that I can sauté or make a salad out of really quick. Avocados, lemons, radishes are must haves for garnish, texture, color and flava.
2. Get a slow cooker. It will save your life. Spend 15 minutes prepping ingredients the night before. Wake up 15 minutes earlier. Throw everything that you need in the slow cooker. Come home to a healthy 30 minute meal. Where you at Rachel Ray?
3. The oven is your friend. Roast as much as you can. It is a healthy form of cooking that does not require much baby sitting. You can usually roast your protein and veggies together.
4. To save time, frustration and prevent bad tasting food, learn how to properly cook your proteins and veggies. Know the best cooking temperatures and cooking time for your favorite proteins/ veggies. I suggest doing some google research and writing it down.
5. Make breakfast after dinner. Like most of you, I don’t like waking up 30 minutes extra to prepare breakfast every morning. I try to prepare some form of breakfast in the evening to last for 2-3 days. Paleo breakfast muffins, frittata, or sausage/sweet potato/kale hash are all great ideas.
6. Always plan to cook enough food to pack for lunch, so that you won’t be strolling up to the nearest Taco Time or Panda Express.
7. Learn how to make delicious, healthy marinades, purees, dressings so that you food won’t taste bland and repetitive. Master these viscous fluids.
8. Get a Costco membership. You can save time and money by buying good quality veggies, protein, avocados, olive oil, and almond milk in bulk.
9. Invest in glass containers. Trust me, they make a big difference in packing, storing and reheating your food.
10. I always sacrifice 30 min to an hour of my day to make sure that I have something healthy to eat.
Eating healthy and preparing meals is a lot of work; however I look at it as an investment in my future. We spend so much time investing in our jobs, other people, saving money, and material things that the norm is no longer taking time to invest in our health and bodies. This is a piece of advice that I give my patients on a daily basis. I hope that the Paleo challenge not only open up your minds to healthy ways of eating but also prove to you the importance of taking time out each day or week to enrich your health for the present and future.