Eating well doesn’t require a massive lifestyle overhaul. Rather, it is the cumulative effect of small, realistic changes.
As a busy person, you’ve got a million things on your plate. Your ‘to do’ list is a mile long, the meetings are never ending, the emails don’t stop, you’re constantly strung out on caffeine, and before you know it, it’s 10pm and all you want to do is collapse in a pile of exhaustion on your desk.
When your life is this crazy, adding one more to-do like being healthy seems counterintuitive, but the truth is, when you make small lifestyle tweaks like eating cleaner, moving your body, sleeping, and managing stress, busy becomes easier.
1. Make a meal prep easy
The idea of meal prepping doesn’t have to be stuck in rigidity and unpalatable foods. Taking time in advance to prepare for the busier weeks ahead can ultimately be a huge time saver — and it ensures you have healthy food options on-hand. Plus, spending less time cooking during the week means more time for social outings and other adventures.
To start, take stock of what foods you already have and find recipes that utilize those ingredients. To make things easier, look for different recipes that call for the same or similar ingredients. Meal prepping can also be as simple as chopping vegetables or making a slow cooker meal. Don’t be afraid of taking shortcuts — stock up on ingredients such as pre-cooked meals, rotisserie chicken, pre-sliced veggies and healthy frozen snacks.
2. Aim for satiating combinations
Ensuring your snacks and meals are satiating and satisfying can reduce the urge to snack around the clock. Make sure your meals include protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and fiber-rich fruits and/or vegetables — a combination that keeps you full longer.
3. Prioritize sleep
Keep a consistent bedtime routine and aim to prioritize sleep to maintain good health and reach your goals. An increase in ghrelin (the hunger hormone) means you’re likely to consume more food (usually foods higher in sugar) than normal, as the body tries to gain more energy. Sleep is an integral part of health, and an insufficient amount can negatively affect energy levels, exercise motivation, concentration and even appetite regulation, to name a few.
4. Find social connections through exercise
Exercise can help you feel energized and improve sleep. Instead of forcing yourself to partake in a form of exercise you don’t enjoy, try out a new activity like swimming, hiking, biking or plogging. Not only will it help exercise become a sustainable habit, but you’ll also gain more physical, mental and emotional benefits from something you enjoy. Plus, it’s a great way to make social connections.
5. Stay hydrated
Add sliced lemon and cucumber – this tastes way more satisfying than regular water and tricks you into drinking more and eating less – and it feels fancy.
Did you know that just a 5% drop in your body’s fluid levels will result in a 25-35% drop in energy? So one of the easiest ways to keep your energy going strong is to stay hydrated.
When you’re on the go, drinking water can slip your mind, but if you make a water bottle one of the essential items in your work bag you’ll have a visual reminder to drink water whenever you go!
6. Stop stress-eating
If you’ve got a big deadline coming up, you may find yourself compulsively reaching for carb and sugar filled snacks…even though you’re not actually hungry.
In busy, high stress times where you find yourself poking around the cupboard every few minutes, stop and ask yourself, “am I eating because I’m hungry or because I’m stressed?”By creating this interrupt between your emotion and your craving, you give yourself space to choose a healthier, more sustainable strategy (like taking a short walk or chatting with a friend) to combat your stress.