Top Priority: FOOD

August 30, 2020
| Created by Heather Lieber, MS, RDN, CD

Making food a top priority

Our team of dietitians has talked with a lot of customers about food and health. With these conversations comes talk of what keeps us from healthy eating. Sometimes, it is a conversation about what keeps us from remembering to eat in general.

“Healthy food is too expensive.”

“I am so busy, by the time I think about food I have to go for the fastest option possible.”

“I don’t have time to cook.”

“Our schedules are too different to sit down to dinner together.”

“I have so much to do I often forget to eat.”

“I can’t wake up early enough to eat breakfast.”

The truth is, we all have barriers to good nutrition that we can justify as being completely legitimate. The answer isn’t to remove the barriers completely, because that is impossible. Most of our barriers relate to worthy high priorities in our life such as sleep, work, time with family, or hobbies. The goal is to realize that amidst these barriers, food deserves a spot on your “top priorities” list.

Why food should be a high priority

Besides food being one of the fundamental things we need to survive, it can mean so much more. Breakfast makes the difference between a grumbling stomach and distracted school student, or a focused and motivated student. Food choices can make the difference between a nauseating workout and an amazing one. Timing of eating can make the difference between being “hangry” toward your partner or feeling satisfied and energized to spend time together. A little conscious thought can make the difference between mindless calories and intentional nourishment to act and feel our best.

How to make food a high priority

If you feel that neglectful eating habits are impacting you, there is no time like the present to reevaluate. To invite change into our daily routine, something’s gotta give! There is no change without sacrifice. Here are a few ideas of small sacrifices to make that will leave more space for food and thoughtful eating.

Simplify your definition of "cooking"

Are you too busy or lacking motivation to cook? Sometimes less is more. Think instant rice, premade simmer sauces, and frozen vegetables. Think no-cook recipes like variations of sandwiches, quesadillas, wraps, and salads. Search for online recipes with a cook time of 30 minutes or less.

Minimize screen time

Whether your phone or TV screen is the culprit, give up some of that screen time for food. This might mean incorporating simple prep such as chopping veggies, or being more present and mindful during meal time. If your phone has a function to track screen time, take a look to be aware of how much actual time you could cut down on.

Revamp your sleep routine

If you wake up 30 minutes earlier, could you make a lunch to pack to work, or actually sit down and eat breakfast at home? If you stayed up one hour later one day a week, could you meal prep a couple of meals? Figure out how to fit in your recommended seven to nine hours and carve out a little more time for food. This will help you to feel less chaotic and more on top of things.

Check last month's bank statement

What did your money go toward last month? Where were the unnecessary expenses? Could these funds go toward a more expensive but more nutritious restaurant instead? What about a more expensive but preprepared meal option from the store? Shuffling around even a small amount of money for the purpose of food can have a big payoff.

Double up on priorities

Is time with family high on your priority list? What about long-term health? Saving money? The good news is, all of these things coexist at the top of the priority list along with food. Preparing or eating meals as a family, reducing your risk of long-term chronic conditions, and preparing budget-friendly meals instead of eating out are all ways to keep the important stuff at the forefrontincluding food.

Hopefully at least one of these strategies speaks to you. We all have different everyday lives and priorities, but one commonality is that food is needed to fuel them all. Are you interested in examining your lifestyle and better prioritizing food and health? Contact your Harmons dietitian at