Do you REALLY have no time?

finding time
Ilona Madden - RightFood4U - Nutrition Programmes - Bray Wicklow Dublin

Written by Ilona Madden

November 2, 2021

updated 26 Nov 2021

It is something I hear quite a lot from people or my clients: They are struggling to find the time for either meal planning, cooking or self-care and relaxation.

Being busy these days seems like a batch of honour, and we seem to be feeling nearly inadequate when we have nothing in our diaries.

In this article, I want to challenge the concept of not having time. If you are struggling with time and you hear yourself often saying “I don’t have enough time”, this article might feel a little uncomfortable.

But I’d like you to continue anyway because shifting our thoughts around “not having enough time” can actually help free up time and feel less stressed about it.

“Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” Bil Keane

Since practising mindfulness and meditation, I have found that I am living more in the present moment, and once you do that, you stop worrying about whether you have “no time” or whether you are “wasting time” or whether you “should have done xxx instead”. You learn to accept every moment as it is.

I love a sentence that I have heard in Fiona Brennan’s “The Positive Habit” meditation: “Live every moment as if you had chosen it.”

I still don’t manage this though all the time, however, I am getting better at it. Practising meditation is not just about relaxation: It is about changing how you think. I have decided to stop telling myself how busy I am, and I am just getting on with doing.

Recommendation: Download some of the free mindfulness & meditation apps such as Headspace, Insight Timer, Calms. Take part in a Mindfulness Self-compassion course. I can recommend this one, but there are plenty of other courses on offer nowadays online and in person.

8 week Online Mindful Self Compassion Course; Thursdays 6.30pm-9.30pm – Mindful Self-Compassion UK (

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” Steve Jobs

A lot of people spend time doing things they “should” be doing or the things that are expected of them. While this might be necessary at times, living someone else’s life is not very satisfying and can be exhausting in the long run. When we do too many things that are expected of us (and not what we really want to do ourselves), we can easily feel overwhelmed. Distinguishing between doing things simply because others expect it of us and wanting to do it ourselves is the key though. A good example is caring for an elderly parent. So many of us do it because it is the “right” thing to do, but it is becoming another duty in your busy schedule and can easily become a burden. On the other hand, many people thrive caring for an elderly parent because it gives them a sense of purpose. Having a sense of purpose in your life has been identified as being important to your overall health and wellbeing in the science of “Positive Psychology”.

Recommendation: Watch your thoughts and what you are telling others about caring for elderly parents or prioritising your children’s schedules. Do you feel other people’s schedules are controlling you? Do you feel you are constantly doing things that are expected of you? How much do you do just for fun and how much me-time do you “allow” yourself?

Ideally, write your thoughts on paper as this will help get clarity. Just going for a walk and thinking about it, might help a little, but usually, it just keeps these thoughts in your head. And don’t say “But I don’t have time for that!”

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” ~ Zig Ziglar

I think this is a very powerful quote. We all have 24 hours in a day, so how can you even say “I have no time”. We all have a choice on how we spend our days! We usually do the things that are important – to us!

Let’s be realistic: Regardless of what you have scheduled in your day, if your child or a parent suddenly needs urgent medical care, you will find the time to rush to the hospital.

Most of us prioritise doing the things we get paid for. Our jobs are important to us and we all want to do a good job, maybe hoping for a promotion or pay raise at some stage, or maybe simply hoping for being appreciated. If your job requires you to work 12-hour shifts, you will tell me you do not have time for xxx. What I like to ask though: “Do you really have to work 12-hour shifts or do you simply value what you do, how much you get paid for, the praise your getting, the job satisfaction or whatever else it is?”

I sometimes ask my clients, “If I paid you €500 if you cooked 3 meals from scratch next week, would you find the time to do it?” And when they are honest with themselves, they admit that they probably would.

Simply changing “I have to work 12-hours every day” to “I choose to work 12-hours every day” changes your own mindset to a more positive one. You don’t feel controlled by your time but rather feel in control.

What has all this got to do with a healthy lifestyle and nutrition though?

My approach as a Nutritional Therapist is never just to look at what my clients eat but rather at the whole person and at their overall health and wellbeing. If someone is constantly feeling stressed, or overwhelmed or under time pressure, the best nutrition will not improve their symptoms! What I have often even found though, is that my clients are willing to stop eating gluten, they’re happy to avoid alcohol or eat more vegetables, but when I ask them to take time to meditate or to journal, they tell me “I don’t have the time for it.” Or sometimes “I don’t see the point of it.”

Most people who constantly say “I don’t have time” actually feel overwhelmed by all the things they have to do. They feel out of control. This is causing your adrenals to release the stress hormone cortisol. Your body feels under threat. Your body cannot distinguish that this is not a “real” threat such as a grizzly bear about to attack you.

High cortisol

  • is raising your blood pressure,
  • can raise your cholesterol,
  • can interfere with your thyroid and your lower your metabolism (lead to weight gain)
  • can interfere with your hormones (menopause symptoms)
  • can lower your immune system which can impact your ability to fight viruses and cancer cells
  • raises your blood sugar and insulin release, causing food and sugar cravings and possibly creating insulin resistance and setting you up for diabetes.
  • or it can over-stimulate your immune system to attack your own body and manifest in auto-immune conditions and allergies.
  • keeps you in “Fight & Flight” mode and brings you out of “rest & digest” mode, resulting in many digestive issues such as bloating, cramping, pain, malabsorption of nutrients and food intolerances.

Considering all these health implications, if you want to lead a healthier life, it is not enough to just avoid processed foods and eat more vegetables.

It is not up to me to judge anybody how you spend your time. We all spend time doing the things we value most. What are your values?

If you spend your time living according to your values, you perceive your “busy-ness” differently from feeling controlled by outside circumstances.  I quite like Dr. Demartini  Demartini Value Determination – Your Priority Assessment (

Warning: This is an uncomfortable statement now!

Do you hear yourself saying: “I know I should be planning my meals better and do more batch cooking, but I just don’t have the time!”

It is not that you do not have time, it is because simply because you do not value meal planning and batch cooking enough. And it is because you do not value your own health enough. You will find “excuses” such as: “Yeah, but I’m not eating processed food” “Yeah, but I’ve done plenty of exercise and wallking” “I am eating plenty of vegetables” “It’s probably my genes, my age, my injury…”

Maybe, you simply cannot find sufficient “proof” that taking time out and batch cooking will help you feel better in the long run. Maybe you perceive change as another burden?

As a Nutritional Therapist and Health Coach, I can help with the following:

  • Coaching: I can help you see your thoughts clearer and we can together develop strategies that you can implement in your life. Talking it out with someone can create awareness. And awareness is always the first step for change.
  • Scientific studies if that might be the “proof” you need.
  • Running certain tests with you to “proof” what is going on in your body: Stool test, hormone tests, DNA test. Often, when my clients see their condition in black on white, it makes it easier for them to stick to the recommendations.
  • Providing you with proven practical tips and strategies
  • Recommending important foods, nutrients and herbs that actually reduce your stress levels.
  • Recommending other health care professionals and lifestyle methods that can help, for example, hypnotherapy, massage therapy, reflexology, acupuncture or specific stress coaches.

Contact me by email, or arrange a Health&Energy review call with me if you feel you simply haven’t got enough time to look after your health.







Mulled wine

This delicious mulled wine is sweetened naturally with a little cider and the juice of an orange.

If not sweet enough just add some xylitol.


2 bottles of fruity red wine
150ml apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
Juice of one orange
The peel of one unwaxed lemon
5 whole cloves, stuck in an unwaxed orange
A pinch of nutmeg
5 cardamom pods (optional)
I tbsp of xylitol (optional)


Simmer all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let the wine rest for an additional 10 minutes before straining and serving.

Healthy Mince Pies

Ingredients for the filling:

1 large apple
75g raisins
75g sultanas
75g currants
65g dried, ideally unsweetened cranberries
60g other dried fruit (sour cherries,
blueberries, mango, apricots
– dried but unsweetened)
Zest and juice of an orange
50g coconut palm sugar
4 tbsp butter, cubed
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp brandy (optional)

Ingredients for the pastry:

150g of almond flour or ground almonds
75g of coconut flour
1 tbsp coconut palm sugar
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
zest of an orange
115g butter, frozen
(plus a little extra for greasing)
1 egg, lightly whisked


Pre-heat the oven to 175˚C, then put the almond and coconut flours in a bowl with the sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir in the orange zest. Grate the frozen butter into the flour and mix together with your fingers till a crumb forms.

Stir in the egg and mix with your hands to form a dough. Divide the dough in half; wrap each in film and place in the fridge for 1 hour (or overnight). Grease the moulds of a muffin pan with a little butter.
Remove the dough from the fridge and place between 2 sheets of baking/ greaseproof paper.

Roll with a rolling pin to flatten out the dough until it is pie-crust thin.

To make the filling:
Put all of the filling ingredients (other than the brandy) into a large saucepan over medium heat and stir.

When the butter is fully melted, turn the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often. Take the saucepan off the heat and stir through a tablespoon of brandy, and decant into sterilized glass jars.
Leave to cool with the lid slightly ajar, then secure tightly and store until required.
Using a biscuit cutter (or an upturned jam jar – needs to be about 8cm diameter), cut out 25 circles and lightly press into the muffin pan moulds.

The pastry can be tricky to work with, as there is no gluten holding it together. Be patient. If the pastry
splits just push it back together with your fingers and use any pastry scraps to fix it up.
Fill up each pie mould with a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat. Using the remainder of the dough, cut out 25 stars to top each pie. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes.

Leave to cool in the tins, before gently easing them out. Don’t be tempted to remove from the
tin when they come out of the oven – they WILL fall apart if you do this.

(Recipe from Zest4Life Christmas recipes)

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