In most of my initial calls with potential clients, one of the first barriers to eating healthy is being too busy. Being moms, with or without full times jobs, taking care of household chores, finding time for significant others, and keeping up with other aspects of life, many of us are just too busy to eat healthy.
The truth is that eating healthy, or at least healthier than your current state, does not have to be time consuming. There are a number of strategies you can use to ensure you are getting quality nutrients into your body on a regular basis without it feeling like work or like it takes forever.
Take a look over these 14 ways to eat healthy when you are too busy and commit to trying at least two methods for this coming week. As you master those two and they become mindless habits in your life, add in another one or two. Before you know it, you will be too busy eating healthy to even think about not!
1. Make dishes ahead of time you can reheat a few nights a week. I am convinced that casseroles were invented by busy, keep-it-simple moms. Many make ahead dishes take little to no time to put together before it hits the oven. Make 2-3 on a Sunday night and keep them in the fridge to choose from for the rest of the week. Pick ones that are on the lighter side like this Lightened Up Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole or this Lightened Up Chicken Salad. I highly recommend this Baking Dish with Lid if you are going the casserole route.
2. Meal prep. I know you are rolling your eyes at this and saying, “If I am too busy to eat healthy, than I am definitely too busy to meal prep.” I get where you are coming from, but meal prep does not have to be an extended task. You do not have to meal prep everything, just the items that are quick and easy, or the items you need for the meal in your day you struggle with eating healthy with the most. Meal prep does involve some meal planning, so be sure to get a copy of your free Meal Planning Guide here.
Here are some ways you can meal prep with the time you do have:
- 20 minutes or less
- wash fruit
- chop vegetables
- defrost the next two nights of protein
- portion out snacks into tupperwares or baggies
- 30-40 minutes
- cook a big batch of quinoa or brown rice
- make to-go breakfasts, like ham and egg cups
- poach chicken for lunches or dinners
- 60+ minutes:
3. Buy pre made/precut items. I think every single grocery store has pre made and precut healthy meals making the excuse of being too busy to eat healthy go out the window. Choose items that you know how to cook, are on the lighter side, and that you actually like.
4. Build up your freezer meals. There is something super satisfying about having some healthy meals readily available in your own freezer. When you get home, just preheat the oven and throw it in. You can easily go about the rest of your house duties while dinner heats up. You can find my pregnancy brain crazy list of freezer meals here.
5. Host a meal swap party. If part of your schedule includes getting together with friends for some rest and relaxation time, turn the get together into a meal swap party! It is a fun way to still connect with the people you love while doing something good for your body. Learn more about how to host one here. I did this twice with friends a few years ago and it was really fun. Plus, having different meals to choose from than I would normally make felt like a treat.
6. Take turns cooking with your spouse or roommate. Switch off nights cooking based on who is busiest, or who will be home earlier. The only rule is that the meal needs to be nutritionally valuable to your body.
7. Hydrate. At the very least, make sure that you are staying hydrated throughout your day. If you are drinking half your body weight in ounces of quality liquids (water, tea, coffee, not sodas and juices) than you are doing your body more good than you think. Being hydrated keeps your bodily functions going, keeps you regular, improves your skin, and improves digestion. No one is too busy to eat healthy when it comes to sipping water. Hate water? Try these tips.
8. Put healthier foods in the front and at eye level in your fridge and pantry. Yes, this is totally one of those weight loss hacks, but it really works. Pay attention to what you tend to grab to eat at the last minute. It’s probably something at your eye level when you first open the fridge or pantry. Trick yourself by putting the healthier foods at eye level, or at the front of the fridge and pantry.
9. Buy prepackaged snacks that have a quality ingredients list. Not all prepackaged snacks are bad. There are a number of companies out there doing a wonderful job of keeping their packaged foods filled with quality ingredients. Rx Bars are just one of those companies. Before you just toss some packaged snacks into your cart, take the extra 15 seconds to read the ingredient label. The ingredient in the highest amount is listed first. A few things to look for:
- If the ingredients list is longer than about 5-6 items, put it back.
- If one of the first three ingredients is sugar, or high fructose corny syrup, put it back.
- If you cannot pronounce, or don’t know what some of the ingreidents are, put it back.
10. Opt for vegetables and fruit whenever it is available. If you can pre pack some vegetables and fruit to eat throughout your day, fantastic. If you are running to the drive thru or just eating what is in the office, opt for the salads and pieces of fruit rather than the burgers and baked goods. The vegetables and fruit are going to keep your body running better and your energy up more than the less nutritionally dense items.
11. Keep a quality snack nearby (desk drawer, purse, car console). The goal here is not let yourself get so hungry during your day that you grab the first thing you see when you finally get a chance to eat. If you start to feel hunger pangs, you should have a small store of good quality food nearby you can grab. This could mean you buy a few of those healthy packaged snacks to keep on hand, or you bring in a few low-sugar yogurts to store in the work fridge.
12. Have mindful meals when you do get to slow down. It may not happen often that you can sit down to a proper dinner, but when you do have that opportunity, make it a quality one. This means you sit at the table, you turn off the screens, you plate your food, and you pay extra attention to your hunger and full cues. Your body, mind, and spouse will thank you for this little bit of slowing down over a meal time.
13. Set reminders to eat throughout the day. The problem with being too busy to eat healthy is that we are not just not eating healthy, but we are not eating at all. If you are running from one meeting to the next, and then coming home to run your household, then food may not be at the forefront of your mind. If you skip meals and snacks, your body is going to go into starvation mode, which means it will hold on to every calorie it can from your last meal because it doesn’t know when it will eat again. Set a few phone alarm reminders to make sure you are eating something quality every 3-4 hours. This will help prevent sugar crashing, keep your concentration up, and help avoid the ravenous, eat-all-the-things desire when you finally find time for food.
14. Lower your sugar intake. Raise your hand if you are too busy to eat healthy during your day so you subsist on sugar. I see you. Things like multiple cups of coffee with lots of sugar and creamer. Sodas. Pieces of bite-sized candy. Mindless snacks that you eat at your desk. These are all low-quality foods that have a major impact on your body fat, concentration, and energy levels. Try balancing this out by limiting the sugary snacks in place of those high quality pre-packaged, or meal prepped foods.
How do you eat healthy when you are busy?3