If you are like me and like many other people in recovery, you tend to overdo, overachieve, are overstressed and super busy. Hopefully, you aren’t wasting your time getting junk food or driving between different stores looking for food, like you used to do. Putting recovery first requires an investment in time and getting organized with your priorities.
Putting recovery first means different things for different people. But one thing everyone has to do is cook. Eliminating sugar, flour or wheat, eating 3 meals a day and a metabolic before bed are the foundation of Kay’s food plan.
Cooking abstinent food is high on the priority list for any recovering food addict, and it requires getting organized and planning ahead.
Here are some practical tips on organized cooking:
- Weekly Meals Planning
Start your planning on the weekend. Create a time either on Saturday or Sunday and make it your “Weekly Planning Time.” Create a form on your computer that has the days of the week, Monday – Sunday, and space to write your 4 daily meals. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Metabolic). During this planning time, review your weekly schedule and write down what are you planning to eat at each meal.
- Weekly Cooking Planning
Food doesn’t cook itself, but if you plan smartly, you won’t get into situations where you come home from work hungry and realize that you have 2 hours’ worth of cooking but your dinner time is actually coming in 15 minutes. Planning your cooking time ahead takes the pressure off and helps you to be ready to cook and eat your meals on time. If you are working a full-time job away from home, consider spending a few hours on the weekend cooking and freezing your food. If you have a more flexible schedule, plan to cook a few times a week or even every day – but make sure you plan ahead.
- Grocery Shopping
How often does it happen that you want to prepare a specific dish and you have to run to the store and get what you need while you’re already hungry? Grocery shopping while hungry is a bad idea. Grocery shopping takes times, but when done effectively, it can help you better manage your time. When you plan your meals for the week, make a list of items you need for your meals. When your list is complete, check what you already have in your home and what needs to be purchased at the store. With your list organized, try to visit the store once a week to get what you need. It takes a lot of pressure off during the week if you already have what you need on hand. Plus, it eliminates impulse purchases.
- Daily Planning
The weekly planning helps you get organized with the cooking. The daily planning should be done every evening for the next day or every morning before starting your day, and it should reflect your level of commitment to recovery. Not only do you plan the time of your meals for that day and what are you going to eat at each meal, you also report your food plan to your sponsor. Reporting your food means: “I am fully committed! Here is what I’m committed to eat today!” For me, an important part of “turning it over to a power greater than myself” is to report my food and stick to my commitment.
- Storing food
Organizing your food and storing it appropriately will help you feel “on top of things” and responsible for your actions. Many people weigh and measure their food for the week ahead of time, right after cooking, so they don’t have to deal with it later. Make sure to label your plastic containers or zip locks clearly. If you live with other people, decide on a special section in the fridge for you and make sure your family members are not eating your food. (After all, nobody wants to deal with a food addict when someone just ate their food…) I use tiny sticky notes with my name on them to make it clear for my family members which food is mine.
- Carrying food with you
Often you leave your house thinking that you are going to be back in time for your next meal. But stuff happens. You might get stuck in traffic or have a change in plans. It’s easy to simply take a small cooler with you in the car – just in case. You will save yourself some stress around the uncertainty. I take a cooler and leave it in the car when we go to the movies so I can have my metabolic on the way home. A few weeks ago, I dropped my husband at the airport in the morning and found myself stuck in traffic driving back home. I was so grateful for having my loaf with me in the car. I simply pulled off the road and had my breakfast and then got back on the road, fully satisfied.
- Emergency food
Life is life and unexpected circumstances come up. While other people can play with their meal time and be flexible about what they eat, we have to stick to our plan and to our meal time if we want to recover. I’ve had situations where I’ve had to go to the emergency room with a family member or pick up someone unexpectedly, so I simply grabbed one of the “emergency food” items I keep on hand. Whether you want to make some loaves and freeze them or prepare a kit of tomato juice, canned tuna and oats, make sure you have something ready for times of need.
As Kay says, failing to plan is planning to fail.
Let’s take responsibility, my friends, and plan ahead – so we don’t fail.
Not only will you truly put recovery first, but you will also eliminate stress and uncertainty from your life, at least with food.