Maintaining a healthy diet can be a challenge, especially when you’re short on time. Even though your intentions may be good, you argue that you’re too tired to cook a balanced meal or you’re too busy to be bothered with eating healthy. Although the increasing availability of fast food and convenience items makes it seem like these are your only options, eating healthy doesn’t have to be out of reach.

1. Plan to succeed

When it comes to eating healthy, planning ahead is your best friend. It’s more difficult to slip up and sink your teeth into deliciously processed chicken pie. when you have a healthy meal packed away in your lunchbox. Spend an hour or two on a weekend planning your meals and snacks for the entire week. Once you’ve got your meal plan down, make a shopping list and hit the stores where you can purchase items in bulk. Doing so is not only time-effective, but it is also usually cost-effective, too. Schedule a few hours on a Sunday night preparing meals for the next three days or the entire week. It may seem time-consuming at first, but planning will actually save you time in the long run.

2. Don’t skip breakfast

Eating breakfast provides you with the energy you need to get through your day and leads to increased concentration. When you eat a satisfying breakfast, you’re also less likely to overeat throughout the day. Smoothies are a quick, accessible option when you’re on the go. Avoid ready to use smoothies, which are loaded with sugar and calories, and make your own. Start with frozen fruit, add some almond milk, a handful of spinach and a scoop of all-natural peanut or almond butter. Sprinkle in some chia seeds or flaxseed for a boost of fibre and pour it into a trendy to-go mug as you run out the door.

3. Always have snacks

Snacks are key to eating healthy when you’re busy. Having one or two healthy snacks a day can curb your hunger and help prevent bingeing on unhealthy options at the last minute. Keep a bag of raw almonds and some dried fruit in your car or your desk drawer. Throw an apple or a banana into your purse or briefcase on your way out the door. Keep your refrigerator stocked with cut-up veggies and small plastic containers of hummus or all-natural nut butters for dipping. If you’re ok being a “shake person,” then pack your healthy, meal-replacement shake on days that you know it’s going to get a little busy and there is going to be little time for snacks or meals. A good shake can save you a binge that could cost you a good 500kcal, if not more.

4. Let’s be real

No matter how hard you try, having a busy lifestyle means there’s probably going to be a day when you just can’t avoid ordering takeout, but getting a meal on the run doesn’t mean you must eat unhealthy. Stay away from value meals and tailor your choices to your lifestyle and taste. Ditch the group breyani and bunny chow lunches, and rather ask for a ¼ Tikka chicken with a side salad (ditch the naan bread).
Ask for a burger with no cheese or mayo and a salad or vegetables on the side. Request that your chicken be grilled instead of fried, and ask for a side of steamed vegetables or fruit. Hit your local grocery store and grab a fruit or smoothie from the deli. Look for turkey on whole-wheat bread with lots of veggies and no mayo.

Eating healthily, whether you’re busy or not, must start with a dedicated decision to do so. “You have to want to do it and the best reason is whatever reason will motivate you to take the steps to make the intention a reality … you have to intend to eat well, to make it real!

Yours in health & wellness
Lorisha Singh RD (SA)