7 Tips for Healthy Eating When Life Gets Busy
When it comes to making healthy changes and sticking to them, the number one barrier many of my clients experience is not having enough time. As a general rule of thumb, I like to remind people that planning ahead and doing the prep work up front can actually save you greatly (both in terms of time and money) in the long run. While this may seem like a daunting task, I have worked with incredibly busy clients who have successfully developed sustainable habits: people whose jobs require them to travel every week, busy collegiate student-athletes, high-powered diplomats and attorneys, and more. So it can be done! Below is a list of the top 7 tips that have helped my clients maintain healthy eating habits when life gets busy:
Have a list of quick and convenient healthy snacks on hand
If you have high-quality protein bars, nuts, fruit, or dried chick peas on hand, you don’t have to worry about being hungry and defaulting to a nutrient-poor option, like candy or chips, in a pinch. Foods that are high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals will help to sustain energy for longer and may even boost mood and productivity
Follow general guidelines for food groups at meals
If you often must eat away from home due to travel, it’s not going to be possible to plan out every meal for the week. Instead, work ahead with your dietitian to determine the appropriate portion sizes and combinations of food groups you should aim for at each meal. If you know that you want a plate that is half vegetables, plus a protein the size of a deck of cards, and one starch the size of your fist, these guidelines will do a lot of the work for you when it comes to healthy eating, no matter the eating environment.
Eat on a consistent schedule
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is going without food for 6 hours or more. If you do that, you may find yourself craving foods high in fat, carbohydrates, or sugar. Eating every 3-4 hours helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and makes it easier to focus on work and make healthier food choices throughout the day. Even if you can’t eat at the exact same times every day, the time between all meals and snacks should ideally be no longer than 3-4 hours.
Prepare meals at home that can be frozen
If you can’t afford to budget cooking time for every meal window, it’s a great strategy to cook meals that can be made in large batches and then frozen. This could be soups, crock pot meals, casseroles, breakfast sandwiches, protein waffles and pancakes, smoothies, homemade meatballs, etc. You can also keep frozen vegetables, fruit, meat, poultry, and fish. Plus, if you opt for individually-sized portions, you can also help reduce food waste.
Use a meal prep delivery service
If you really don’t enjoy cooking or need to minimize meal prep time as much as possible, a meal prep delivery service may be the answer for you. Some services will ship you all the ingredients you need for a particular recipe, and others will even prepare the meals for you and deliver them, ready-made, to your door. In terms of cost, this option may add up to an equivalent amount as eating at a restaurant, and can allow for healthy eating with minimal time and effort.
Scope out restaurants you frequent often
For restaurants that you go to often, begin creating a list of at least 1-2 menu options that you know fit well within your personal food guidelines. This will make the ordering process easier and will allow you to have some back-up options ready to go when you find yourself out at a business lunch or stuck at the office without any food prepared.
Look at nutrition facts ahead of time for new restaurants if possible
Before you try a new restaurant, scan the nutrition facts (or at least the menu) ahead of time by looking it up online. This will allow you to make a more informed decisions about which menu items will suit your needs best, and preparing ahead of time takes the pressure out of trying to make a decision on the fly.
If you have a busy schedule or frequently have to eat away from home, try these tips in whichever order feels most realistic or helpful. Remember, in order for a food plan to be sustainable, it has to fit into your life. If you feel that you would benefit from working with a professional to seek advice on your specific situation or to create a customized meal plan, please feel free to message me to set up a consult!
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