Eating healthily to fuel our bodies is something all of us need to do to live our lives to the fullest.
But it can be easier said than done, especially when we’ve got a hectic schedule, a spouse, kids, finances, deadlines, the in-laws and curveballs that life throws at us to juggle constantly.
What do you do when you’re feeling so overwhelmed that you’re tempted to throw meal planning out the window, choose that bucket of fried chicken over your usual salad, and reach for the chocolate chip cookies to feel better?
I’ve been there and done that…a lot, and you know what? Days like these don’t have to lead to a dietary disaster.
Here are my top 8 ways to get through them nourished and balanced:
1. Make the best choice you can with what you have.
Didn’t have time to cook for the day and it looks like you’re going to have to stop at the convenience store with just 15 minutes to spare? Go for a quick source of what I call the fantastic four: protein, carbs, vegetables and fat. This could be a small pack of nuts, sandwich and an apple. Keep it simple without putting pressure on yourself to be perfect.
2. Have a 2-liter bottle of water with you at all times.
Keep this bottle at your desk or car to make it convenient for you to hydrate. This takes the guess work out of tracking how much water you need to drink throughout the day.
3. Go frozen.
Not in the mood to prep fresh veggies, fruit and meat for your meals? Have a stash of frozen produce, fish, chicken and meat as well as fruit like blueberries, raspberries and strawberries at the ready for stir-fries and smoothies that you can whip up in 5 minutes or less.
4. Get familiar with the menus at your favorite restaurants.
Or even better, have copies of them at home or the office. This will allow you to call to book a reservation and order healthy choices ahead to save time, or take-away if you’re really pressed for time.
5. Not sure if you’re hungry or just tempted to eat for comfort because of stress?
Ask yourself: “Would I still feel like eating if all I had was a bowl of steamed, unseasoned broccoli in front of me?” If your answer is “no”, step away from the food and divert your attention to something else.
6. Have at least 5 recipes that don’t require any cooking on hand for chaotic days.
My favorite: Sandwiches, salads and wraps using meat from the deli or canned tuna and fresh veggies that I can just put together for a quick meal, pack and go.
7. Stash tea bags in your desk drawer or bag.
so that you have access to sugar-free beverages when you don’t feel like having water. My favorites: Green and earl grey teas.
8. When you find yourself heading to the fast-food drive-through…
Opt for a la carte items and steer clear of the meals sets that come with fries and soda (read: unnecessary calories) . Your best options: Something that’s grilled and comes with vegetables plus minimal dressing.
Having trouble with making healthy meal choices when life gets in your way? Share what you’re struggling with in the comments section below. I’d love to know!