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How to eat healthy despite a busy schedule

On a scale from 1-10 how busy are you? Off the charts at 11? Maybe sometimes! Between balancing work, family and a social life, life can get crazy. Where does balancing your diet come into play?

By: Kelly Atyeo-Fick, B.A.Sc., M.H.Sc., P.H.Ec.

On a scale from 1-10 how busy are you?  Off the charts at 11? Maybe sometimes! Between balancing work, family and a social life, life can get crazy.  Where does balancing your diet come into play? 

When things get busy sometimes people resort to:

 Eating out more at fast food restaurants

  • Buying convenience foods  
  • Skipping meals
  • Over snacking

This can lead to practicing less healthy eating behaviours for the entire family without even being aware of it.

What can you do when things get busy?  Anticipate and plan for it so you’re ready to go!

Here are some ideas for how to avoid these common pitfalls to healthy eating and how to balance your diet and keep things in check with a busy schedule.

Start with Planning

If you know that a week or month is going to get busy, think about what healthy meals you can make ahead of time.

Chicken is a versatile protein that can be made ahead of time and used in so many meals that can then be frozen.

Here are 3 chicken meals that are nutritious and delicious – and can be frozen and thawed for a quick healthy weekday meal.

Lentil and Ground Chicken Shepherds Pie:  Not only does this recipe freeze well, it can be easily portioned to bring to work when you don’t have time to make lunch. 

Chicken Chili: This is a quick chilli recipe that can be used in a variety of different quick weekday meals, from tacos to quesadillas.

Classic Chicken Soup: Try making this classic chicken soup recipe and freezing it for those days when it gets really busy and you need something warm and comforting.  It lasts for at least 2 months in the freezer!

Smart Snacking

Keep snacks at your office and in your car that are nutritious – not just convenient.  Some ideas include: 

 Low fat/sugar granola bars

  • Cut up vegetables
  • Sugar free apple sauce
  • Easy to eat fruits (applies, pears, peaches etc.)

Having these snacks accessible will prevent you from going to a fast food restaurant for a quick meal – or a vending machine.

 Making Good Restaurant/Convenient Picks

There are healthy and convenient options available at restaurants and even grocery stores.  If you’re in a rush and can’t make your lunch one day try the following convenient picks at the ready to eat section in the grocery store:

 Ready made salads with dressing on the side.  Be in control of how much dressing you want to add to avoid excess calories and fat. 

  • Whole grain pasta salads.  Ask how it’s made!  Avoid pasta salads that look like they are very oily or have a lot of sauce/cream dressings.
  • Plain grilled chicken breast and a side of veggies. 

Also, check out healthy restaurant options in your area.   There are so many restaurants that focus on fresh ingredients for you to enjoy.  Also, most restaurants will accommodate dietary restrictions and different cooking methods.  For example, if you’re ordering chicken from a restaurant, ask them how it’s being prepared; see if they can grill it for you to cut back on fat.  Also, many restaurants put the nutrition facts of their menu items online – so if you are going out to eat, you can check them out to ensure you don’t eat all your calories for the day in one meal!

Regardless of how busy you get, make sure you keep your health a priority.  Your diet is so important to keep in mind no matter what, because remember - it’s the food you eat that’s going to be giving you the energy to do all the things you want to accomplish in a day!  

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