When you are busy and on the GO it is easy to slip up and skip those healthy meals and snacks. Do you find yourself making poor decisions because you are preoccupied? It’s easy to get into unhealthy patterns and choose convenient foods that are high in fat, added sugar and calories. The key to continued healthy eating is preparation, and preparation is different for different situations. Let’s take a look at the best way to prepare for your ‘on the run’ life when you feel like you have no time to shop, cook or eat.
Keep To A Regular Eating Pattern
We all need fuel to keep us going, so first and foremost, you have to keep to a regular eating pattern. This means starting with a good breakfast, preferably within an hour of getting up. Many people skip this meal as the mornings are rushed, but making time for this before leaving the house is a good habit to get into. Certain meals can be prepped the night before so that you can grab and eat quickly or at least eat in the car on your morning school run or on your way to work. Thereafter you should try to eat every 3-5 hours depending on hunger levels. By eating regularly, you will give your body regular fuel to maintain energy levels during the day and you will be less likely overeat in the evenings.
Keep Quick, Easy, Non-Perishable Foods On You At All Times
If you are office-bound this is relatively easy – keep some non-perishable foods in your office drawers/cupboards. Foods such as dried fruit, nuts, biltong, high-fibre crackers, peanut butter, low-fat cheese wedges, tuna sachets are examples of foods that you can stock in larger amounts to ensure that there is always a backup if you are hungry with no time to make or buy something healthy. The key with your choices of snacks is that they are nutrient-dense, wholefoods. Try to move away from processed foods that are high in empty calories.
If you spend a lot of time in your car pack a cooler bag of these snacks that stays in the boot at all times. Similarly, if you are out and about, pack some of the foods into your handbag/ briefcase.
Pack A Lunch Bag
This may sound like a lot of work, but mine literally takes me the two minutes that my oats are cooking in the microwave! It’s leftovers that were packed into containers the night before, or worst case a quick peanut butter sandwich. Together with that, I include 2-3 pieces of fruit, a yoghurt, a boiled egg and some nuts. If this does feel like too much effort in the morning, pack your lunch bag the night before. One important factor to remember is to go shopping on a regular basis so that packing your lunch is effortless.
Know Where You Can Buy Healthier Meals
Being prepared also means that you have a shop, restaurant or takeaway where you know that you can get a good choice of meal for those desperate days. Simply buying a roast chicken with a packet of vegetables can be a super easy and delicious supper. Restaurant and takeaway meals can be made healthier by ordering the meal with a side salad or veggies instead of chips. Try to remember balance (mostly vegetables with some protein and carb) and portion sizes when buying meals on the run.
Plan Ahead For The Week
It’s not ideal when you have to plan what to make for supper on your way home. Alleviate this stressor by sitting down on the weekend and planning the week’s supper meals. Make sure that your fridge and cupboards are stocked with ingredients that can be used for quick and easy meals. These could include couscous, pasta, wild rice, tinned legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils), tinned vegetables (corn), or frozen vegetables. You can also have a night or two in the week where you cook a few dishes for the week or cook double portions. Foods such as soups, stews, mince, chicken, brown rice and roasted vegetables freeze well. Freeze them in portions and simply defrost them overnight when they are needed.
Don’t let your fast-pasted lifestyle compromise your healthy eating. Start today with some simple preparations and see your energy and health improve.