If you’re one of those people who’s constantly jumping from one thing to another, then you probably struggle with eating right. When you’re super busy, food often becomes limited to whatever’s right in front of you. As a result, your busy life starts to take a toll on your body and overall health.
And it’s not just what you eat on these hectic days, it’s how you eat. If you’re rushing through meals or eating at odd hours, your metabolism will get thrown off and you might start gaining weight, even if you’re not eating all that much. In the end, poor eating habits can put stress on your body, which is the last thing you need when your mind’s already stressed from work.
While this sounds like the beginning of a vicious cycle, don’t fret! There are a bunch of easy tricks you can use to turn your busy-person eating life around. Here are eight of the best from fitness and nutrition experts.
1. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day (really)
And this doesn’t mean grabbing a muffin from the deli around the corner. A good breakfast will fuel you for the entire day, so if you’re a particularly busy person, you’re doing yourself a major disservice if you don’t eat one. Yoga instructor Charlotte Singmin suggests a plant-based protein shake if you’re in a hurry, flax or chia seed-based cereals, or whole grain toast with nut butter and fruit.
2. Fast food doesn’t need to be bad food
We now live in an age were you can actually find healthy alternatives on a fast food menu. So grabbing a meal at a fast food chain is no longer an excuse to eat terribly. If you’re not sure what the better food choices are, Fitness has a handy guide to some of the more popular restaurant chains. When in doubt, bookmark this page and you’ll always be able to find a meal for less than 480 calories.
3. Pack your snacks
Always try and bring healthy, filling snacks from home so you won’t be tempted to grab something greasy or sugar-filled on the go. “Protein can help you lose weight because it increases satisfaction, and when you feel satisfied from your eating plan, you’re better able to stick with it,” says Alexandra Oppenheimer of Ambitious & Nutritious. Protein comes in a variety of forms, including cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, edamame, peanut butter and string cheese. They’ll all stave off the munchies and they’ll all fit nicely into your purse.
4. Go for the single serving
If you forgot your healthy snacks at home and simply must go out and grab something, go for the one-serving packets. According to Health.com, only allowing yourself a controlled amount of what you crave keeps you from going back and getting more. For extra brownie points, make that single serving a piece of fruit rather than a bag of chips — it’ll actually keep you feeling fuller longer.
5. Water, water, nothing but water
I’m totally a culprit of giving into the soda temptation, but after I do, I always regret it. Not only do I crash when the sugar wears off, I wind up getting sucked back into my sugar addiction, which effectively knocks me off the healthy eating train. According to the experts at Food Matters, water is the only way to go when you have to keep going all day long. If that sounds boring, you can always add a squeeze of your favorite juicy fruit or drink it carbonated.
6. Plan ahead
While it may sound daunting, especially if you already have a busy schedule, planning out your meals is the best way to stick to a healthy eating routine. If you stock your fridge and pantry with easy-to-grab snacks, you’re already halfway there. If the idea of chopping veggies for dinner sounds too time-consuming, you can get the pre-chopped kind from the grocery store. They even make greens that are pre-washed, so you can skip another step there, too! You can also put together a little lunch from dinner’s leftovers, so you’re killing two birds with one stone.
7. Slow down while you eat
Yes, you may have to run to your next meeting, but if you wolf down your sandwich, you may be adding inches to your waistline. According to WebMD, if you eat too fast, your stomach doesn’t have enough time to tell your brain that it’s full, so you just keep on eating. Also, if you’re eating fast, chances are you’re not chewing properly, and then your body has to work harder to digest your food. This can lead to an upset stomach, which will probably be worse to deal with than being five minutes late.
8. Don’t skip meals
Skipping meals is just a bad recipe. Not only does it slow your metabolism to a crawl, it can affect your energy and emotional well-being, as well. Maggie Moon, a nutritionist based in Los Angeles, told Women’s Health magazine, “Without a steady supply of nutrients, your intellectual and emotional functioning changes.” “Running on empty” isn’t just the name of a song, it’s a real thing. Even if you can’t manage a whole meal, keep snacking healthily throughout the day to avoid a sudden drop in blood sugar.
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