This is the #1 FAQ topic I get! How do I eat healthy when I am so busy? Or, how do I maintain a healthy lifestyle when I have no time to cook?
Hi, my name is Ashley and I’m a workaholic! For about 15 years, combined with everything I do for work (and school back in the day) I was busy 60-80 hours a week…some weeks more, some weeks less. In fact for the vast majority of my 20s, I worked 7 days a week. Don’t judge, I really love my career; I have the best jobs in the world. That’s right. Jobs, plural. Dealing with a crazy schedule became a lifestyle. The only reason I could to this for so long is because I learned some important tricks to eat healthy while running around.
Before we get into it, let’s talk about some very important things here:
Everyone thinks when you’re trying to lose weight that you should eat less food throughout the day. Don’t eat less! Eat smaller portions, healthier meals, and snack, but don’t eat less. Portions somewhere around the size of your closed fist should be a good guide.
Eat more fruit and veggies and less sugary carbs. I know a lot of doctors claim that sugar is sugar, whether it comes from fruit or from bread and sweets because both cause your insulin levels to rise. However, fruit is full of good stuff: fiber, vitamins, water, etc. You need fruit. You don’t need that cookie or bag of pretzels. I’m not saying never eat cookies. What I AM saying is around 3 in the afternoon when you’re craving something carb-y, one of these options will give you energy and the other one will make you want a nap.
Step 1: Plan ahead and make a list!
I don’t know about you guys, but when I was super busy, I only had time to go to the grocery store ONCE a week. That was it. Planning ahead was crucial. Don’t forget to check your cupboards for plenty of food storage containers and bags because you’re gonna need them, and possibly a lunch box too. Figure out how many meals you want to eat out and shop for the remainder.
Step 2: Don’t go in the aisles of the grocery store!
What?! With few exceptions, there is nothing that great for you in the aisles of the grocery store. In other words, make healthier choices. Stick to the outer edges of the store: produce, meat, fish, cheese, deli, bakery, eggs, dairy, and frozen foods. Except for bakery items, which are acceptable in small amounts, all of these foods produce energy and nourish the body. Remember, frozen fruits and veggies are your friends! They are frozen at the peak of freshness, pre-cut, and a lot of times less expensive.
Caution!!Try not to buy anything fat-free or sugar-free. A lot of times the fat and sugar are replaced by an even more unhealthy substitute. However, don’t be afraid to buy Low Sodium. Low Sodium is good.
What’s in the aisles? Boxed foods, preserved foods, sugary foods, etc. The ONLY things I would ever buy in the aisles are broths for soups, peanut butter, organic whole wheat pasta, beans, lentils, and rice.
Step 3: Prep your food right away!
Meal kit time! Get out some big bags, cut up the veggies and meats, throw ’em in the bag. When it’s dinner time you have saved yourself the prep time and it’s ready to throw in the pan. I can’t tell you how often this strategy won when I was a single gal. 45 minutes to have a pizza delivered, 15 minutes to sauté whatever was in a bag. No brainer!
Do the same for snacks, lunches, and breakfast too. Section out everything in bags and containers.
Want something that takes longer for dinner….like roasted veggies. Roast on prep day and reheat in a day or two when you’re ready for it.
Stocking your freezer with homemade soups on prep day also becomes a BIG life saver. PS, you can use your crock pot for those. Minimal prep, hands off cooking, and LOTS of leftovers to stock your freezer!
Just to give you an idea…
These you can easily prep, pack, and take with you. On a work day, I would take breakfast, lunch, and 3 snacks.
• Hard boiled eggs
• Fresh berries
• Smoothies with yogurt
• Fresh veggies – no chop choices include grape tomatoes, sugar snap peas, and baby carrots. But, don’t limit yourself to just those!
• Sandwiches and wraps
• Cheese cubes
• Chia pudding
• Celery, apples, or carrots and peanut butter (Jif makes single serve cups!!)
• Nuts and seeds
I know, if you’re used to eating out every day that this method takes some adjustment. Trust me, it’s worth it, and doesn’t take too long to get the hang of. After 2 weeks, you’ll be a pro. Most of all, have fun with it!