Updated: Feb 17
Being ‘busy’ is not an excuse to not eat well. The truth is everyone is busy, it’s a way of life these days, and yet many people are still able to eat well and focus on their health goals. But, how do they do it? It’s honestly not as complicated as you may think. Yes, it may take a little planning or a little extra time, but it can be done.
There are a few things you can do to keep yourself healthy while you’re powering through your day. Just a few simple changes can make a big difference in your energy levels, as well as your overall health. Here are 6 ways to eat healthy no matter how busy you are!
1. Make easy, healthy snacks for the week
The biggest misconception about packing snacks is that it’s hard to do. One thing that works for me is prepping healthy snacks for the entire week, or getting them together the night before. It literally takes five minutes and will help you eat healthier throughout the day. Here are five healthy snacks that take no time:
Chopped apple and almond butter
Greek yogurt with fruit and granola
A handful of nuts with a piece of dark chocolate
Carrot, cucumber, and hummus
2. Freeze meals ahead
When you do have time to cook, making an extra serving or double batch that you can freeze is one of the best ways to ensure that you can continue to eat healthy when you are busy. Although some people are concerned that freezing meals might make them less nutritious, however, that is a nutrition myth. Freezing meals is simply a convenient method of preservation and doesn’t do any harm. With the exception of a few ingredients, you can freeze just about anything and set your future self up for success to ensure you are able to eat well when things get hectic. The more you can learn to make your freezer work for you, the easier things will be when life gets too busy to cook!
3. Be prepared when eating out
In this day and age, restaurants are becoming more and more accommodating to consumer requests, so there is no need to be shy about asking for menu substitutions. Simple requests like asking for double vegetables instead of chips or sourdough/brown bread instead of white bread can often be easily accommodated.
When you’re looking at the menu, look for whole foods in their original whole format and minimise processed fried food items. Look for, vegetables that have been grilled or sautéed, a protein that has been steamed, baked or roasted; beans, lentils, and healthy fats. Avoid deep-fried items, refined oils, and added sugar. For example, it is better to choose grilled chicken with sautéed vegetables and lentils over fried chicken, chips and ketchup.
TIP: When in doubt, look for something on the menu that is rich in vegetables and protein. This is a great combination for better blood sugar balance, which can help regulate your hunger hormones and will fill you up.
4. Just keep things simple
Spending hours preparing a complicated recipe every night is not realistic nor is it sustainable. I know it is fun to try new recipes and make elaborate meals, but when things get busy you need to get real with yourself. Instead of looking for new recipes or fancy meal ideas, it is important that you keep meals as simple as possible and focus on eating whole foods – that’s it. You just need to eat what will fuel your body, even if it’s boring. If you want to keep it simple, only commit to one or two new recipes per week that have 5 - 10 ingredients that you can easily find in your local supermarket.
5. Try creating a dinner calendar
Meal planning is your ticket to saving time, money, and a fair amount of stress when you or those you love start to get 'hangry'. Meal planning can help you stretch your resources, buy shopping groceries beforehand and help you create a budget. You can simply start by having 5 simple recipes in rotation for each night of the week, it’s much easier to stick to the plan and eat healthily.
Meal planning is designed to help you. To really be successful in life and in serving great meals, you need to be flexible. A meal plan can give you the direction you need!
6. Buy pre-made food
Yes, in an ideal world you would cook everything from scratch, but that’s just not realistic. If you know you are about to be busy it’s important that you are kind to yourself and take shortcuts wherever you can.
These days supermarkets carry plenty of healthy options that are pre-made and can help save you time in the kitchen. Items like pre-made soups and salads are great for quick and easy lunches, and frozen vegetables and tinned beans/chickpeas can help you pull together a simple dinner in under 10 minutes. Most supermarkets carry many healthy pre-made foods that can help you eat healthy when you’re busy, you just need to look for them. Look around, be resourceful and always remember to read the ingredients; it is the single best way to know if you are making a healthy choice or not.
In reality, the only way to eat healthy when you’re busy is to make it a priority. You may need to prepare a little in advance or take an extra minute or two to seek out a good meal, but I assure you it can be done. If you want to ensure that you eat well you need to take control of your food choices and be as resourceful and imaginative as you can.
Do your best to keep meals simple, look for pre-made options, and focus on the basics; whole foods made of fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and whole grains.