As warmer weather approaches, we seem to get busier and busier! As this time of year approaches, with warmer days and more sun, it’s likely that many of us are spending time thinking about healthy eating, but finding that our busy lives make doing that very difficult. Although we may have the best intentions for ourselves, we find that our busy schedules have us grabbing quick meals and snacks at the last minute, and not always making the best choices. While you may think you are saving time and being more efficient by grabbing a burger and breezing through your busy, warm, fun filled day, or even filling up on energy drinks or coffee when you start to feel tired, these actions can be very counterproductive to our health goals.
For many, this might seem like the easiest and least stressful way to power through the day, but in reality, a poor diet causes you to feel tired and lose energy during the day, which has a direct impact on the amount of work you get done, and the amount of fun you can have. This “easy” lifestyle also contributes to a number of more serious health problems such as chronic disease and weight gain.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to turn your diet around and start eating healthy, even when you are super busy. In this article I share 10 of the top tips for eating healthy when time is extremely limited.
The popular saying is; “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and when it comes to healthy eating this is absolutely right. If you don’t put together some sort of plan to eat healthy then you are going to end up eating those unhealthy junk and fast foods. The best way to plan ahead is to list down the foods you plan to eat at the end of each day and then prepare what you can the night before, or, take an hour or so once a week to plan out and prepare for an entire week! You may think that you simply don’t have the time for this kind of planning each week, but my clients that have done this now find that not only are they eating healthier, but also dealing with less stress, AND saving money! A little bit of planning and prep time literally turns healthy eating into a grab and go process!
Don’t Grocery Shop When You Are Hungry
As you work on your healthy eating plan you’ll need to start buying healthy foods when you do your weekly grocery run, and keep your fridge and pantry full. Avoid grocery shopping when you are hungry! This makes this task a lot more difficult as your hunger will naturally draw you towards convenient junk foods. Therefore, make sure you have something to eat before you do your weekly grocery shopping. Plan your grocery trips around the perimeter of the store-sticking to produce, proteins, and dairy as much as you can.
Take Full Advantage of Fresh Selections
If your find that you often head over to the vending machine or local convenience store to grab a quick snack, try to focus your selections on healthier options. Many of our corner stores, and even vending machines, now offer apples, grapes, carrot sticks, hummus, and bananas. These options can be just as filling as chocolate bars, or chips, and they provide much more nutritional value and contain a lot less calories, salt, and preservatives. To make things even easier, make sure you pack a few pieces of fruit or veggies into your bag each day and then when hunger calls you have them readily available.
Those Awesome Packets of Nuts
Nuts are another fantastic, healthy, food that you can use as a substitute for vending machine snacks. They provide your body with a ton of health boosting vitamins and minerals along with good amounts of protein and healthy fats. To avoid the temptation of unhealthy snacks make sure you always carry a bag with you so that you can quickly grab a handful whenever your stomach starts to rumble. Many nut companies sell portable 100 calories packs of almonds, cashews, and walnuts to make this an easy go-to snack.
Incorporate Vegetables into Every Meal
This may sound like too much of an effort when your time is limited. However, if you choose the right vegetables it hardly takes up any of your time at all. Salads, soy beans, and sun dried tomatoes can now all be purchased from supermarkets in a ready to eat form. Bag up sliced carrots, celery, and peppers and keep them handy and ready to munch. Prepping steamed veggies and keeping them in the fridge is also a great idea, simply heat for a few seconds in the microwave and eat.
Look for Lean Fish & Meats
When you are busy and have forgotten to bring your healthy packed lunch, grabbing a quick burger or hot dog might seem like the best option. However, there are plenty of healthier meat choices out there. Most hot deli counters allow you to buy roasted chicken which is both tasty and nutritious. Most supermarkets also sell cooked chicken breast slices. Lean meats are just as quick to eat as burgers and hot dogs but provide your body with higher quality protein and no nasty added ingredients.
Get A Thermos Cup
One bad habit I have noticed among super busy people is that they regularly buy branded coffees. This doesn’t seem like such a bad habit on the surface but when you consider that six of the drinks on the current Starbucks menu exceed the 300 calorie mark, it’s a habit that can easily add over 1,000 empty calories to your week-not to mention-they are pricey! Instead of hitting the coffee shops every day, get yourself a thermos or heated coffee cup and fill it with coffee or tea. Both these options will give you easy access to your favorite hot drink without adding hundreds or thousands of calories to your week.
Smoothies are an excellent way to fit multiple fruits and vegetables into one convenient drink and the best part is they take just a few minutes to prepare. To make a smoothie, just pick the fruits and vegetables you plan to use, chop into chunks, place them in your blender, add a few other optional ingredients if you like (crushed ice, fruit juice, protein powder, milk etc), blend until the mixture becomes smooth. If you are really stuck for ideas, Google will help you find some great smoothie recipes.
Use Your Freezer In The Right Way
Your freezer is a very valuable tool if you want to eat healthy and save time. If you know you are going to be having a particularly busy week, consider cooking up a large batch of healthy food at the start of the week, divide it into individual servings and freeze these servings. Then on the days where you don’t have time to cook simply get these frozen servings out of the freezer the night before and warm them up when you are ready to eat. Doing this will allow you to enjoy healthy, nutritious meals without having to cook every night. It’s all about being prepared!
Choose the Lesser Of Two Evils
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, events will conspire against you and you won’t be able to eat healthy. You’ll accidentally leave your healthy lunch at home, the local shop near your work will have no fruits or vegetables left and your only choice is to head to a fast food outlet. In these situations, simply choose the lesser of the two evils. Take a look at the amount of salt, the calories and the amount of trans fats in each option on the menu and then choose the least damaging. This isn’t exactly healthy but it’s making the most of a bad situation.
And to Sum it Up
Sticking to a healthy diet is tough at the best of times but when you are busy and stressed it can sometimes seem impossible. I hope the tips I’ve shared have shown you that eating healthy when you are super busy is not only possible but it’s also very manageable if you approach it with a positive attitude and a sense of planning. As you make small healthy changes to your diet, you will soon realize that you are not only feeling better and having more energy throughout the day, but the planning and prepping actually remove a lot of the stress from our daily lives.
If you are looking for a 3 week program that will “reset” your eating habits, help you drop a few pounds, and feel your best for spring, consider my upcoming awesome Fresh and Simple program! This program offers both regular and vegetarian meal plans, with 40 new recipes based on whole, healthy foods, and weekly habit enhancing tips to change your health and life! This program includes two 30 minute virtual meetings with me to set your goals, answer your questions, and keep you inspired-with email support in between. Get ready to feel your best, embrace Spring, and get a little taste of what it’s like to work with a health and wellness coach! This package will be offered for a limited time for only 97$. If you’d like to reserve your space at this price, or have any questions, be sure to email me!