I recently had the pleasure of attending a talk with Sarah Wilson, the Australian journalist who has spearheaded the I Quit Sugar movement in Australia. She spoke for an hour about 13 ways to simplify your life. It was a really fun talk with loads of brilliant examples and tips. And I got my copy of Simplicious signed!
Here are her tips one by one – enjoy!
1. Stop Eating (So Much) Sugar
This is a no brainer. Sugary food has moved from being a treat that you might have at the weekend, to a must have after every meal. One of the ladies in the audience shared the problem of her son’s nursery offering a sugary dessert after every meal and asked for Sarah’s advice on what to do. My son’s nursery does the same and it drives me nuts. Food habits start early and I definitely don’t want J to be in the habit of expecting something sweet after each meal. Sarah advised the lady in the audience to have an honest chat with her son’s nursery – my experience is that nurseries think it’s normal to give a pudding after every meal so I just ask J’s nursery not to give him any sweet puddings all, that way when he has ice cream or cake with us or at a party, it actually is a treat. Problem solved.
It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Sometimes the very act of cooking with fresh, local and organic ingredients seems almost revolutionary.
3. Ride a Bike and 4. Walk
They’re both cheap, easy and give you the benefit of exercise and the opportunity to take in your surroundings in a different way. As a Londoner, it’s hard not to walk, whether it’s to and from the tube, doing the nursery pick-up and drop-off or meandering around the neighbourhood. Sarah raved about Boris bikes and I made a mental note to use them a bit more often – they’re so easy and fun!
5. Slow Cook
I love my slow cooker. It is such a brilliant way to cook, especially knowing that after a long day at work in the winter, you have a warm meal waiting for you. Slow and low, Sarah advised, is the best way to cook. It better preserves micronutrients and phytonutrients and the long cooking time generally means that the food is more flavourful.
6. Use Less Stuff
Sarah showed an amazing photo of her wearing a ‘Consume Less’ t-shirt when she was explaining this point. She urged us to reuse everything (something she does brilliantly in her latest book, Simplicious), to simplify our wardrobes and to generally not be so bound by the stuff that surrounds us. We’re currently on the cusp of a house move and I can really relate to this point as we’ve prepared the house for viewings. We’ve just got too much stuff.
7. Use Fewer Ingredients
Sarah’s recipes are incredibly straightforward and she’s a great believer in creating a flow of cooking, i.e. start with the foundation items, like stocks, spice blends, which then help with the main meal recipes in her book.
8. Be A Total Scummy, Daggy Cook
Take doggy bags, buy the wonky veg, reuse everything. Sarah told a story about how she took home the bones from her restaurant meal to make stock – she takes waste not, want not to heart!
9. Have A Warm Root
Sarah is a big advocate of the balancing principles of Ayurveda and talk a lot about kapha, pitta and veda in her first book, which I found really interesting. She believes that warming foods recreate balance in the body, especially when you’ve had a time of huge excess.
10. Create Your Own Life Boundaries
We get pushed in some many different directions and I know many of us have a very hard time saying no. Sarah talked about the importance creating your own boundaries and sticking to them. I’ve found this to be very true, especially at work. And if I don’t respect my own boundaries of leaving work at 6pm and not answering email after hours, my colleagues and clients surely don’t.
Sarah also urged us to “close some of the tabs in our brains” – which is an apt way of thinking about the incessant multi-tasking we’re all guilty of. Did you know that Brits toggle between devices 21 times an hour! Imagine what that’s doing to our brains!
11. Drop Stuff That Makes You Itch
If it’s not working for you, then drop it. The word no can be one of the most powerful words in your arsenal.
12. Don’t Seek Balance
Enjoy the things that feel good and that will gradually create balance. I’ve talked a bit about this in the past. There’s no such thing as a fully balanced life and the more we seek balance, the more imbalanced we often become.
13. Get Your Grubby Mitts Off It
Sarah talked about time when she was feeling anxious and her meditation teacher advised her to ‘get her grubby mitts off it’, i.e. take a step back from the situation and get a bit of perspective.