While cooking up a weekly bone broth and fermenting your own vegetables may be something you regularly aspire to do, let’s be honest, who has the time when we barely have time to do our washing and call our mum occasionally? Trust me, you are not alone and the good news is that you do not have to dedicate hours and hours each week to build a strong nutritional platform that will support both weight control and optimal energy levels. Rather you just need the busy persons guide to good nutrition!
1. Power planning
Good nutritional practices largely come via planning rather than knowledge. Often we know what we ‘should’ we eating but life takes over and we find ourselves in situations where we do not have the supplies on hand that we need to eat well. For this reason, a crucial step in taking control of your nutrition for good is dedicating a little time each week to planning some of your meals and snacks in advance. Once you know that you will need lunch a certain number of days, or have no plans on a couple of nights you will be able to make the necessary arrangements to have some healthy options on hand. The weekend or Mondays are generally a good time to set aside 5-10 minutes to run through your diary and consider your commitments and the impact it will have on your food choices. Ideally we should start the week knowing what we will be eating for lunch most days and for dinner at least a couple to keep in control of our nutrition.
2. Cook occasionally
Very few people have the time to prepare a healthy, nutritionally balanced meal on a daily basis especially if they are not cooking for others. This may be because cooking and eating well if not on their top list of priorities, or due to jam packed schedules but whatever the reason there is no need to feel guilty. Rather the trick is to keep a supply of back up options in the fridge or freezer so should you find yourself home for dinner, there are better options on hand than the local Thai or pizza takeaway. One option is to cook when you do have time and then freeze a few favourites – spag bol, stir fries and soups freeze well and can be reheated for both lunch and dinner. Another option that is becoming increasingly popular is to order meals from a meal delivery service each week that can be used when needed. There is a wide range of meal delivery options and generally speaking, the higher the price, the better the quality and ordering individual meals occasionally can be a much more cost effective option than order an entire week of meals that you are unlikely to eat.
3. Focus on vegetables
The key dietary area that suffers when we are not organised with our food is our intake of nutrient rich vegetables. Often foods we grab on the run contain very small amounts of salad or vegetables leaving us with a carb and fat rich diet. Vegetables and salad are low in calories, they bulk up meals so we eat fewer calories overall and they are rich sources of vitamins, fibre and essential nutrients. A dietary pattern that frequently sees us consuming less than 2-3 cups of salad or veges on a daily basis is one that is also likely to see us feeling bloated and gaining weight over time. For this reason, when you are grabbing meals and snacks on the run, always focus on increasing your salad and vege intake. Order extra sides of vegetables when eating at a restaurant; look for vegetable based dishes when enjoying Asian cuisines and actively seek out salads and soups for lunch.
4. Utilise online options
While we may not find ourselves at home often enough to need a full supermarket shop or order groceries regularly online, don’t forget how handy it can be to have some supplies delivered to work. Unlike home we are generally at work a certain number of hours each week, and often there is someone there to sign for the delivery. A weekly delivery of staples and snack foods such as fresh veges to snack on; tins of fish for lunches and nut or protein bars to have on hand for quick and easy nutritious snacks can go a long way in helping to prevent the daily trip to the vending machine or coffee shop for high calorie treats and extras. Once you know that you will have a supply of your favourite yoghurt, nuts, cheese and crackers on hand to serve as nutritious snacks throughout the day, your daily food platform starts to have a firm and sustainable platform.
5. Schedule a light day
Chances are if you are trying hard to balance work, life and relationships there are a number of days each week when you eat and drink a lot more than you should. This is perfectly normal and dietary perfection is neither possible or a desirable goal but a simple strategy to help strike a balance between life and good nutrition is to work towards regularly compensating for these higher calorie days with a routine light day or two of eating to help buffer the effects of overindulgence. This may mean a day each week of vegetables, fish and soup or a couple of weekly meals of low calorie soup, whatever you can regularly schedule into your routine to strike a good balance for you. As a general rule of thumb, a light meal of fish or soup on a Sunday or Monday night followed by a day of fresh vege juice, salads and fish works well each week. Most importantly, be wary of cleanses and fasts that encourage juice only, or no food what so ever. These extreme regimes will do your metabolism no favours long term.