7 Tips on How to Fit a Balanced Diet into Your Busy Schedule
These days, a mere 8-hour workday is becoming less and less common. A lot of us are working additional hours at home, on our laptops, and via our smartphones. With crazy hours like these, the best way to make sure you stay on track nutritionally is to prepare yourself a week’s worth of healthy meals in advance. Here are a few tips for doing just that.
1. Master the grocery store. When you arrive at the grocery store after work, you’re starving and in a hurry to get home. Without thinking, you find yourself drawn into the bright, shiny, end-of-aisle displays like a moth to a flame. Before you know it, you’re about to fill your cart with 10 frozen pizzas for $10.
Stop! Change direction. Go straight to the produce section and select enough lettuce and fresh vegetables to make a salad that’ll last you all week. It’s best to avoid the center aisles, which contain all the processed foods you want to avoid, and keep to the perimeter of the store. This path will lead you to healthy choices like veggies, fruit, low-fat dairy, lean meat, and poultry.
2. Cook on Sunday. Roast a bunch of chicken, make a big stew, and grill some veggies; you’ll have a great meal on Sunday and enjoy the leftovers for the next few days. Another thing to do on Sunday to prep for the week is to wash and chop all the veggies you bought while strolling the perimeter of the store and put it in a zip-top bag. With this combination, you’ll have fresh, healthy food to put into meals all week (or you can freeze to make crock pot meals for a later date!)
3. Make over your leftovers. Reinvent last night’s chicken (or other protein) for the next day’s lunch. Throw it in a whole-wheat tortilla with some salsa for a yummy burrito. Heat it up with some curry seasoning and chickpeas. Put it in a whole-wheat pita pocket or between two slices of whole-grain bread with crisp lettuce and your favorite seasonings for a healthy sandwich. Toss it into that great salad you prepared, along with some fresh or grilled veggies. The possibilities for different, great-tasting meals are easy—and limited only by your imagination.
4. Pre-pack your snacks for work. You may not always have time for a full meal at work, and that’s OK. The night before a busy day, measure out foods—nuts, dried fruit, baked chips, sliced veggies—you can graze on all day. Measuring the portions in advance helps assure that you won’t accidentally snarf down an entire 1,000-calorie bag of trail mix. Another great approach to snacking that’ll help satisfy you until your lunch (or dinner) rolls around? Some of that protein you cooked up on Sunday, in convenient snack portions. Quick bites of chicken, beef, tempeh, or tofu with the seasonings of your choice make for a great snack option. And having fresh, lean protein rather than packaged, processed snack items will not only help curb cravings; it’ll also give you sustained energy and help you fight hunger throughout the day.
5. Hydrate in fashion. Instead of going through tons of plastic bottles at your desk, buy yourself a fancy water bottle. (We love Lavish & Lime water bottles!) Busy people often forget to hydrate properly. In addition, the average American drinks 57 gallons of soft drinks each year! You can avoid the temptation to purchase soda by refilling a large bottle of water throughout your day. On a budget? Wash out a glass water, juice, or milk bottle and make that your go-to reusable water bottle.
6. Be smart about beverage calories. The average American consumes around 400 calories a day in liquid form! This includes soda, sport drinks, energy drinks, juice, and flavored ice teas. You can be smart by making sure any calories you drink are in the form of a meal replacement rather than a hydrator. (Water’s still the best hydrator out there.) Shakeology is a great meal-replacement shake for busy people, because it’s convenient, jam-packed with important nutrients and antioxidants, and low in calories.
7. Don’t go fad-hopping. Will all the new diets, food crazes, and “miracle” supplements popping up, it’s easy to feel confused or insecure about your current choices. If your plan is working, just stay on course. If you want to try something different, it’s a free country, but don’t hop on the latest trend just because your workmates are all talking about it at the water cooler. Do your homework. Read critiques. Talk to people who have tried it for longer than a weekend. Ask yourself, “Is it healthy? Does it involve whole, real foods? Is it realistic?” Finding and keeping a diet that supports your lifestyle will more likely result in long-term success.
Via Heather MacDonald