Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Healthy eating with a hectic schedule.

Eating healthy doesn't have to take too much time.  Since a healthier diet means that you avoid processed foods you often miss out on convenient foods like T.v. dinners or fast food, but that doesn't mean you have to spend all day preparing food yourself either.  In many ways I actually spend less time cooking and preparing food than I used to because of my diet being healthy.  The vast majority of my diet is fruits and vegetables so it is very easy for me to grab a bag of spinach and eat it in the car on the way to a BJJ class, and then pull a banana and a protein shake out of my bag and have that after training.  When the majority of your diet is fresh, raw, fruits and vegetables you don't have to do much prep for a snack or meal.  I also eat a lot of nuts and seeds: almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, etc.  I usually only eat 1 or 2 cooked meals per day and I prefer it that way for several reasons: cooking takes longer than grabbing a piece of fruit, raw foods have all of the natural enzymes and nutrients intact, and cooked foods take longer to digest (when you are constantly coming from or going to a workout you don't want a stomach full of food). We have all heard we need to eat 6 meals a day and very few of us, if any of us, have time to cook 6 meals per day.  Here are some ways you can still eat healthy when you don't have time to prepare a meal.

1). Graze-  I am constantly eating something; eating small bits here and there of healthy foods is an easy way to save time in meal prep.  By grabbing a little something frequently you can curb hunger and decrease prep time.

2). Make big meals and reheat leftovers-  Think of a homemade T.V. dinner.  Sometimes I  make a huge pot of chili on Sunday or Monday and eat a serving every day during the week.  It takes much more time to actually cook something yourself so if you have something in the freezer or refrigerator ready that you can just heat up you can save time in a pinch.  This can get old though if you don't like the meal so use something you would like to eat again.

3). Make 2 snacks a day nuts and fruit-  Nuts and seeds are incredibly healthy and also very convenient.  Nuts take zero time to prep, just throw them in a zip lock bag or Tupperware and eat them when you are ready.  Pair a serving of nuts with a piece of fruit, or even add dried fruits like raisins or prunes and have your own trail mix.  To save even more time you make big batches of trail mix and grab a handful as you walk out the door.  One of my favorites is a handful of cashews, a handful of almonds, and a small handful of raisins.

4). Pack the night before-  I work every other weekend 12 hours shifts at my nursing job.  Working for 12 hours straight, and being on your feet constantly is hard enough, pair that with constant stress and its incredibly hard to eat healthy.  12 hours is a long time and eating every 3 hours means I need to have at least 4 meals there to have throughout the day.  I spend about 1 hour on Friday evenings preparing all of my food for the day.  I usually take things like: fruit, nuts, and protein bars that I can carry around with me and have as a snack.  I also take things like: boiled eggs, carrots, and cheese for additional snacks.  Then I take my actual lunch which is usually a salad with chicken or steak, soup, fruits, and sometimes a sandwich.  By packing the night before I can ensure I have enough food which saves me from needing to go out for something unhealthy.

5) Get used to bars-  Finding a good protein or energy bar can be a life saver when you are in a time pinch.  Having the ability to open a pantry and grab a healthy snack that's prewrapped can save you a ton of time.  I try not to depend on bars too much, but do I usually take one with me to work.  If you work 5 days per week, then taking a bar along with you might be a good idea.  I personally like builder bars, any other cliff bars, larabars, and raw food bars.

6) Sweet potatoes-  Sweet potatoes can be cooked in the microwave in about 5 minutes and are a good source of nutrients and calories.  Just wash them well, poke holes in top and bottom with a fork and place on a microwave safe plate for 2 minutes 30 seconds, then flip them over rub with a little bit of oil and microwave for another 2 minutes and 30 seconds. You can read more about sweet potatoes here if you would like to learn more about them http://everystepblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/15-super-foods-everyone-should-add-to.html

7) Purchase some whey protein-  Whey protein is very convenient and one of the few sources of protein that doesn't need to be refrigerated.  You can put a scoop in a shaker cup and you have a great post workout snack that takes just a few seconds to put together.

Popeye didn't have time for a salad, but he still ate his spinach.

8) Don't be picky.  What I mean by this is to eat for functionality.  Maybe you don't have time for a salad with all the fixings but still need to eat something.  Grab a plastic bag, stuff it full of spinach, and eat it with your hands.  It may not taste the best but if you are really in a hurry eating spinach with your fingers can save time.  I love doing this, and I actually like to pretend that I am a dinosaur when I am munching down spinach with my hands!  A salad with dressing and tomatoes might taste better, but whats more functional?

9) If you have to do fast food...  I think about the best place out there if you have to do fast food is subway.  If you order honey oat bread it is whole grain and high in fiber, plus they have real, veggies.  A salad is always going to be your healthiest option, unless you are at taco bell and then it is actually your worst option, so if you have to eat fast food, try to eat something green.  You will definitely feel better afterwards.

Don't buy this salad!!  If you don't believe me look up the nutrition facts!

There's my list of suggestions for eating healthy in a pinch.  If anyone has any other suggestions feel free to comment below, or leave any questions that you may have.  This is not an all inclusive list I'm sure but they are some of the tricks I use to find time for meals in between workouts.


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