I’m not sure if we’re actually busier or just more distracted, but it seems like people are finding it more and more difficult to find time to eat sensibly nowadays.
I mean, between working long hours, spending time with loved ones, raising a family, social media and reality television, who has time to prepare a healthy meal?
Well, fortunately for you, your dietary habits don’t have to go completely down the drain just because you have a busy schedule. You can still maintain a lean, healthy physique simply by adopting a few tried and true habits that will keep you on the right path.
If you’ve got a busy schedule, here are few things you can do get your eating habits in order.
1. How bad do you want it? – In order to be successful and dominate in life, you need to take a good hard look in the mirror and ask yourself “do I want to be healthier and am I ready to do the work necessary to achieve this goal?” This might seem like a odd question but the truth is, if you REALLY want to eat better, you’ll make the necessary effort to make it happen.
At some point, you’re just going to have to make a decision – a decision that being healthy and having more energy outweighs any short term satisfaction that junk food provides. If you aren’t prepared to make any changes then you might as well stop reading now because the rest of the suggestions I’m going to make won’t do you any good.
If you are serious about cleaning up your eating habits then, with a little fine tuning, anything is possible.
2. Learn how to cook – Too many calories are consumed and too much money is wasted by people eating out all the time. I know the thought of having to prepare a meal after a long day at work seems daunting but this little bit of extra effort can be a game changer for your nutrition.
I’m not saying you need to be the next Gordon Ramsey, but you definitely need to learn the basics like scrambling some eggs, steaming some veggies, and grilling some meat. Cooking your own food will benefit you in so many ways including:
- Saves you time – Once you learn how to cook, you can start making your meals in advance and have them ready to go for the days ahead which, in the long run, will be faster than any drive-thru.
- Saves you money – Making your own meals is cheaper than buying them individually each day.
- Have full control over how your food is prepared – Now you can finally control both the quantity and quality of your food.
Buy a recipe book or have a friend or family member show you how to make a few basic dishes. Like I said, it doesn’t need to be gourmet for it to be worth eating, it just has to have some flavor and good nutritional value.
you don’t have to be a gourmet chef to eat healthy
3. Start grocery shopping weekly – One of the keys to healthy eating is to have healthy foods available at all times. Try to make a habit of buying groceries at least on a weekly basis to keep your fridge stocked with all the right foods.
Again, this might seem like a pain in the ass to keep making trips to the grocery store but once you establish a routine it won’t take that much time at all.
Here’s a sample grocery list with all the essentials:
- Ground turkey
- Lean steak (tenderloin)
- Boneless/skinless chicken breast or thighs
- Fish (salmon, cod, halibut, tuna
- Egg whites
- Low fat cottage cheese
*aim for grass fed and organic source of protein whenever possible
- Yams/Sweet potatoes
- Whole grain spaghetti
- Low fat yogurt
- Mixed berries (i.e. raspberries, blackberries, blueberries)
- Citrus fruits (i.e. oranges/grapefruit)
- Bell peppers
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Pumpkin seeds
keep that fridge stocked!
4. Plan ahead and cook your meals in advance – This might sound cliche but failing to plan is planning to fail. One thing you must try to avoid at all costs is being stranded without any healthy food or snacks at your disposal.
If you’ve left the house empty handed, it’s only a matter of time before all hell breaks loose. You’ll eat anything and everything to satisfy your cravings and that usually never ends well.
Learning how to cook is the first step and preparing your meals a few days in advance is the second. This will ensure you have at least one meal already prepared for the next day.
It basically takes the same amount of time to cook for one day as it does for 3 so you might as well stock up so you don’t have to slave over the stove for each and every meal.
Leftovers are the key to your success. Last night’s dinner will be today’s lunch. As for snacks, a couple pieces of fruit, some low fat yogurt and a handful of mixed nuts will do the job.
5. Be systematic – They say variety is the spice of life but in some cases too much “spice” can lead to beer guts and muffin tops. Have 2 or 3 go to snacks and meals that are healthy and you enjoy and stick to those.
By eating the same or similar foods each day, it’s a lot easier to keep your daily macros (proteins, carbs, and fats) and caloric intake consistent so you reduce the risk of unnecessary weight gain.
The truth is, eating healthy isn’t always glamorous and entertaining but keeping it simple is what’s gonna keep your waistline in check.
For example, if you had a salad with chicken breast for lunch yesterday, you could have sauteed veggies with chicken breast today. Don’t mix it up too much or you’ll start to add things to your diet that aren’t really necessary.
6. Know your lifestyle – Just like getting to the gym has to be convenient otherwise it won’t happen, you’re eating habits have to also blend in with your daily routine.
For example, if you get up early and have to be at the office by 8a.m., then maybe a big breakfast isn’t in your best interest. There are a few reasons for this:
- Preparing a big meal first thing in the morning takes time and might leave you rushed and frantic in the morning
- All else being equal, eating a large meal first thing in the morning might set you up to go over your daily caloric intake.
- You might not feel like eating anything too heavy first thing in the morning
quick, light, and nutritious!
I know we’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I used to have this train of thought as well, but it really depends on your lifestyle. In the scenario above, a better option might be to opt for something quick, light, and nutritious.
Here a few options:
- Protein smoothie with mixed berries
- Low fat yogurt with a piece of fruit
- Low fat cottage cheese with slice fruit of veggies
Also, a cup of black coffee can accompany any of these options.
By having a smaller, lighter breakfast, you’ll be able to be more consistent with your morning meals and consume less calories which could be difference between weight gain and weight loss assuming everything else you eat throughout the day stays the same.
Take a look at the times of day that you eat now and try to make healthier choices at those times rather than rearranging your whole eating schedule.
There is no hard and fast rule as to what meal is most important. What is important is that you get the appropriate amount of nutrients and calories each day for optimal health and performance.
7. Out of sight, out of mind – Isn’t it funny how we can go 5, 6 or even 8 hours at work without eating but once we get home and have dinner we feel the need to eat some sugary treats 20 minutes later?
How is it that our jobs consume us so much that we put aside our hunger for hours on end but once we get home, our cravings take over and we have no self control?
I find this quite ironic and the only suggestion I have is to not give yourself the option of eating any late night junk.
If you simply don’t buy any candy or other treats you desire, you’ve then eliminated the option of overindulging because they simply aren’t there. Hence, “out of sight, out of mind.”
don’t give yourself the option
We will always adapt to our environment. We just have to make sure it’s one that is filled with healthy choices.
Healthy eating takes a little bit of effort on the front end but the pays offs are huge if you can be consistent. I suggest making small changes to your habits so it isn’t as overwhelming in the beginning.
Little by little, as you gain momentum you’ll find it easier to adopt healthy habits.
Good luck and stay strong,
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