Many clients, members, colleagues, friends, family – just about everyone – uses being busy as the reason why they skip meals, dodge into fast food places or order pizza for dinner. I don’t think any of our intentions are to eat badly often – it just happens, right? Or, you have every intention of eating well, hold out as long as you can because you aren’t near anything healthy and then end up gorging on the first thing you come across – which is often you kids’ snacks, a vending machine treat or Wendy’s drive-through.
I’m not going to pretend eating well on a busy schedule is easy. But, if there is a will, there is a way. You just have to make a commitment and plan ahead. I am not going to pretend I am perfect, but I try. A typical day for me starts with teaching cycle or strength-training at 5:30 am, coming home and getting the kids ready, heading out to teach yoga or interval at 8:30, attending yoga or taking the kids to the park or library, teaching or training clients from noon til about 2 pm, coming home to write and then heading out again to teach Pilates, coach treadmill, teach yoga or train clients from 4:30 until 6, 7 or 7:30pm. With this jam-packed schedule, if I do not plan – healthy eating is one of the first things to fall apart. Here are easy strategies that work for me:
- Cook in advance. I’ll roast four or five chicken breasts and boil a huge pot of rice during breakfast time, put in glass containers and portion out for lunches or dinners during the week. Freeze leftover brown rice in individual portions for quick reheating.
- Make homemade salad dressing for the week. My favorite? One part olive oil, four parts balsamic vinegar (I like Whole Foods 365 brand), a pinch of salt and black pepper in a jar. Shake to blend.
- Keep the following on hand: canned tuna in water (I like Whole Foods brand again – it isn’t salty), prewashed lettuce or spinach, frozen broccoli or green beans, canned black beans (low-sodium). You can make several quick dinners out of these foods: tuna or black beans over the lettuce as a salad; black bean soup (cook and puree with chicken stock and salsa); beans with the cooked brown rice (see #1); chicken with brown rice and broccoli.
- Hard boil six to eight eggs at the beginning of the week and use as salad toppers, quick snacks or as part of a speedy breakfast or lunch. They are portable, cheap and contain 6 g of protein each.
- Use a site like TheDailyPlate.com to plan your meals the morning or week in advance. You may not stick to your plan perfectly, but it helps you anticipate potential pitfalls or times when you will need to pack snacks.
Still need on-the-go snack ideas? Here are ten easy ones:
1) Two wedges light laughing cow cheese and a sliced red pepper – about 120 calories.
2) A medium apple and a pouch of Justin’s nut butter – about 290 calories.
3) Five plain triscuits and two hardboiled eggs – about 220 calories.
4) Lara bar, honey stinger protein or other 200-calorie energy bar.
5) Banana and a string cheese – about 180 calories.
6) Peanut butter sandwich made with 2 tbsp. of peanut butter on 2 slices of whole-wheat bread (gluten free if you prefer) – about 360 calories.
7) 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese with ½ cup unsweetened applesauce – about 210 calories.
8) Scoop of whey protein in 8 oz. of almond milk – about 170 calories.
9) Mix 1 drink (sugar free has 90 calories and is lactose-, soy- and gluten-free) with 24 almonds – 250 calories.
10) Individual tub of Sabra hummus with 12 baby carrots – about 200 calories.