You know deep down what you need to eat each day to feel your best and you know that your nutrition is important, but it is so hard to get your diet on track when you are so damn busy! There is no doubt life is busy, and as the year ramps up, schedules are only likely to get busier, so here are the most common diet mistakes busy girls make, and most importantly, the easy ways to try and avoid them, no matter how busy you are.
Not getting breakfast right
Light nights and busy work schedules can see us rush out the door without any fuel on board on far too many occasions. The issue with skipping breakfast, grabbing breakfast on the run or enjoying breakfast too late in the day means that we start the day on the back foot when it comes to our nutrition. In fact, breakfast skipping is linked to consuming higher calorie snack foods later in the day. So as a matter of nutritional priority, commit to grabbing a nutrient rich breakie first thing in the morning. Quick options include a breakfast shake, Greek yogurt with fruit or even a milk coffee and a slice of wholegrain or sourdough toast with avocado.
Lunching too late
After breakfast, refueling with another nutrient rich meal within 4-5 hours is crucial to maintain metabolism and help prevent overeating later in the day. You may have noticed that when you do not find time to eat your second meal by 1 or 2pm, you spend the afternoon hungry and searching for sweet foods. Again your second meal does not have to be a 3 course extravaganza, crackers with tuna, a soup and sandwich or some leftovers is all you need to get you powering on until late afternoon.
High carb snacking
A biscuit here, some banana bread there and a colleague’s birthday cake there and before you know it, you have consumed up to 60g of extra carbohydrates and more than 6 teaspoons of extra sugar without even noticing. Make a commitment to snacking only on protein rich, unprocessed snacks that offer some nutrition but that will also be filling, as ideally a snack should keep us full for at least a couple of hours. Nutritious snack choices include cheese and wholegrain crackers, small milk based coffee, Greek yoghurt and fruit or a nut or protein based snack bar.
Late night dinners
It is a common theme for busy, working girls and mums, a long day, then a trip to the gym for a catch up after work and before you know it, it is 9pm and you have not had dinner. Before you reach for the toast or breakfast cereal, remember the later you enjoy your final meal of the day, the lighter it needs to be. Nutritionally balanced, late night options that are far less likely to play havoc with your waistline include omelettes, crackers with tuna, some veges and piece of fish or a tuna or salmon salad.
Binging on weekends
It is not uncommon to see health purists in the week literally become new people on the weekend with all diet and exercise rules thrown out the window. Binge drinking, fast food, eating out and little to no exercise is a disaster when it comes to weight control and also tends to fuel the diet cycle which sees us being ‘good’ sometimes and ‘bad’ the rest of the time. Rather than completely forgetting your diet structure on the weekends, consider taking a meal off rather than the entire weekend and where possible schedule at least one training session or walk as not to undo all your hard work during the week.
Getting caught off guard
Whether you find yourself at a conference, in a long meeting, on a delayed flight or stuck in traffic, it is the times we find ourselves hungry and without a protein rich snack to munch on that we end up eating foods we know we should not, or that we do not really want to. Take control of this scenario by always carrying a protein rich snack with you. You may not always need it but it will be a much needed relief when you do. Good options include nuts, trail mix, a protein bar or some roasted broadbeans or chic peas.
Forgetting the veges
If you do eat on the run for a number of meals each week, changes are that you are not getting the amount of vegetables and salad that we need on a daily basis. Get into the habit of ordering vegetable rich salads or stir fries, or adding extra vegetables or salad to your order as sides so that you not only get the nutrients you need no matter where you are eating, but so that you also get the bulk in your meals that will help to stop you overeating higher calorie, higher fat foods from the menu.
Overeating after gym
It is a common scenario that sees us work hard at the gym but then demolish a packet of rice crackers or chips and dips when we walk in the door, simply because we are really, really hungry. Avoid this scenario by keep a filling snack with you to eat on the way home such as an apple or mini protein bar. Keeping cut up veges on hand to munch on while you prepare dinner is another handy strategy, as is making a cup of tea or pouring a soda water so that you keep your hands busy while you are preparing dinner.
Eating on the run
Whether you find yourself eating in the car, in front of your computer or on the train or bus, chances are you are not completely mindful of what you are eating. In fact studies have shown that mindless eating, or eating when distracted with other things can lead to overeating later in the day. So, if you can only manage 5 or 10 minutes to enjoy a quick meal, take that time. Commit to taking at least 3 short meal breaks a day, to savour your food, chew more slowly and help control your calorie intake long term.