How can you have healthy food when your life is full of work, school, activities, and social occasions? You may find that it can be a challenge to change your lifestyle, but it will be a challenge you never regret.
The first thing you need to do is take a hard look at what’s going on in your life that’s making you so busy in the first place. Being overscheduled can affect more than just your diet. It can deprive you of sleep and increase your stress levels in an unhealthy way.
So make sure you’re not doing too much in the first place. Wherever you can, eliminate unneeded obligations. For example, you may want to limit your children to one after school activity instead of trying to do several.
You may also want to block off one night a week when you have no scheduled activities so that you can relax and have quality time. If you’re attending a lot of social gatherings, you may want to narrow it down to one or two that are most important to you each week or month.
Once you’ve pared down your schedule, you can begin to work on making nutrition a bigger priority in your household. It’s not as difficult as you may think – and the rewards of eating healthy will surprise you.
There are several things you can do to keep up with being busy and hectic without compromising on good nutrition. A few simple tips can help you to get the most out of your time and your budget.
- Plan ahead. When you plan ahead you can make sure to have ingredients on hand for making healthy meals. You may want to make a meal calendar that rotates on a weekly or monthly basis to stay organized.
- Keep quick, convenient foods on hand. When you’re on the go a lot, you need to have food that can be prepared quickly and eaten on the go. Stocking up on healthy foods such as yogurt, nuts, trail mix, granola bars, and plenty of fruits and veggies can help you be prepared to snack in between larger meals.
- Take advantage of crock-pot cooking. If you’re busy, there’s nothing easier than throwing a few ingredients into a crock-pot and letting it do the cooking for you. You’ll come home to a fully cooked meal ready to eat.
- Stock up on sale items. When you’re trying to stay on a budget, it’s important to take advantage of sales. When your favorite healthy foods go on sale, stock up. It helps to have a freezer so that you can store meats, fruits, and veggies for later use.
- Learn a few quick recipes. Having several recipes on hand that are easy to cook and quick can help you to stick to your plan of avoiding fast food. If you have a “go-to” set of meals that you can always fall back on, you’ll be in good shape.
- Prepare meals ahead of time. Some people like to cook once a week for the rest of the week. You can make all of your meals on a weekend day or a day that’s just less hectic for you. Then throughout the week all you have to do is heat up your food.
- Have soup and sandwiches. This is a really quick dinner if you’re pressed for time. You can either make homemade soup or try the prepared soup and add a quick sandwich. You’ll get a wholesome meal that doesn’t take much time or energy.
- Portion foods right after shopping. When you get home from the grocery store, wash and cut all of your produce. You can even store it in individually portioned bags or containers so you can grab it quickly on a busy night.
- Brown bag it. Many people do well with eating at home for breakfast and dinner but falter when it comes to lunch. Make sure to pack a lunch so that you won’t feel pressure to grab a quick bite at a fast-food restaurant. Packing lunch the night before can keep you from having to rush around in the morning.
By planning ahead and making the decision ahead of time that you’re not going to eat fast food, you can have healthy meals and adapt them to your busy lifestyle. You can even do so on a budget that meets your financial needs.
When You’re Caught Unprepared
Even the best-laid plans can go awry. If you find that you’re stuck in a situation where you aren’t prepared to eat a healthy meal from home, you can still be healthy. Most health experts would agree that eating an occasional fast food meal is not going to negatively impact your health.
But you may want to try to make better choices if you do find your vehicle in the fast-food drive-through. Most restaurants do have healthy choices if you’re looking for them. For example:
- Choose grilled items from the menu
- Opt for a side salad instead of fries with your meal
- Avoid the urge to “super-size” your meal
- Choose water or tea with your meal instead of soda
- Try eating a kids’ meal to get a smaller portion of food
- Add a fruit cup or apples to your meal
- Choose sandwiches that have are made of lean meats and vegetables
- Check the nutrition facts at the restaurant before ordering – some foods are deceptively high in fats and calories
If you find yourself busy and unprepared, you may also want to try a quick trip to the grocery store. Purchasing a rotisserie chicken and a bagged salad makes a very quick meal that will leave you feeling satisfied.
You may find other items in the deli that are healthier than fast food alternatives but are convenient to purchase and take home. Ordering a pizza can also be a healthy alternative if you stick with a thinner crust, cheese, and veggies. Add a side salad and you have a solid meal choice.
Change Takes Time To Skip Fast Food
If you find yourself making a commitment to eliminate fast food and then sliding back, don’t be too hard on yourself. It takes a long time to instill a new habit. You’re bound to have a few slipups along the way.
The important thing is that you keep trying. Eventually, you’ll create a lifestyle that’s conducive to having great nutrition and is no longer in need of a quick meal through the drive-through window.
Talking with other busy families can help you to get tips on eating a healthier diet. You might want to swap recipes and ideas with others experiencing the same thing. Having social support can help you to stick to your commitment.