Packing your lunch? Exercising daily?
Cooking healthy dinners every night?
These are all big time commitments. And not having enough time is one of the biggest excuses that I hear (and frankly, that I use myself) for not eating healthy.
But your busy schedule doesn't always have to dictate your health. If you want to be eating healthier, whether it's to boost your energy levels through giving your body the nutrients it needs, or to shed a few pounds pre-holidays, try these fast and easy tips.
Get rid of the all-or-nothing attitude.
Just because you splurge a little doesn't mean the whole day is shot! Every small step towards a healthier lifestyle counts. Remember that, and don't give up on yourself just because you ate a donut or skipped the gym today.
Eat smaller portions.
One of the best ways to trick yourself into eating less is to eat more slowly. My dad calls it, "eating French." Slow yourself down by putting down your fork between bites. Savor your food. Scientifically, this gives your body more time to send the "I'm full!" signal to your brain, so you'll feel satisfied before scarfing down extra calories.
Don't skip meals.
Counterintuitive it may be, but this is an important one! When you don't eat for four or five hours, your body's metabolism plummets. It can also mess with your hormone balance and insulin levels, which then contributes to unhealthy food choices when you finally do eat. Space your calories out evenly throughout the day, so your body is consistently fueled and ready to go!
Practice easy food swaps.
Switch from soda to seltzer with lemon, from a fattening latte to coffee with a splash of milk, from a cheeseburger to a bunless hamburger. You don't have to totally transform your diet in order to make healthier choices; just think smart when ordering, and make lots of little healthy choices (which will quickly add up into one big step forward for your health)!
Make sure you're getting enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation is a huge contributing factor to cravings for sugary and fatty foods. When you're pushing your body to its limits, it will demand more high-calorie foods and caffeine to stay awake and keep going. But all those unhealthy choices add up eventually, leading to a crash in both your metabolism and your energy levels. Getting enough sleep is one huge favor you can do your body and your diet.
Use your weekends wisely.
Make a little time on the weekends to grocery shop for healthy foods and easy-to-prepare nutritional snacks. Prep big batches of healthy meals, so you've got go-to leftovers throughout the week. Make your lunches ahead of time. Taking a little bit of time on Saturday or Sunday can make a huge difference all week long! (And another plus – you'll save money because you won't have to eat out as much.)
Use healthy meal shortcuts.
Everyone's so down on packaged foods these days – but frozen, canned, and pre-packaged can really make a difference in prep time, encouraging you to eat healthier. Look for frozen fruits and veggies for easy dinner sides and breakfast smoothies – often, the nutritional value of these items is not so different from fresh produce. If you're eating your veggies, even canned, it's better than nothing!
Make it a point to eat more fiber.
Eating at least 30g of fiber a day was shown to be almost as effective as following a more complicated diet plan, as far as weight loss goes. It makes sense, because foods high in fiber (like whole grains, beans, seeds, fruits and vegetables) make you feel full, and keep you satisfied much longer than low-fiber foods do. So you have less room for unhealthy high-calories snacks!
Drink a little caffeine.
Caffeine is an appetite suppressant. Have you ever noticed that? I definitely eat less when I've had a cup of coffee in the morning. Instead of seeking out a sugar rush, have a little black coffee or a low-sugar, low-fat espresso drink. It'll rev up your metabolism, and give you a burst of energy. Just don't drink too much, and make sure to eat healthy foods with protein and fiber to offset the crash that comes later!
Put a veggie on it.
Add veggies to EVERYTHING. Add spinach to your breakfast sandwich, alfalfa sprouts to your sandwich, broccoli and cheese to your baked potato. If it's something savory, you can pretty much always put a veggie on it (is anyone else getting my Portlandia reference here?). Even desserts somehow sneak in vegetables these days, thanks to the geniuses on Pinterest – try chocolate zucchini cake, cinnamon chickpea blondies, or blueberry spinach muffins.
Protein, protein, protein.
High-protein foods are proven to keep you fuller, longer. Chips and cookies are yummy in the moment, but they'll have you craving more in no time! If you are sure to get enough protein, your energy level will be higher throughout the day, and your overall caloric intake will be lower.
Make the microwave your friend.
There are tons of easy meal-in-a-mug recipes out there, which can be prepared with very little work and a few minutes in the microwave! Likewise, now you can buy frozen dinners from Lean Cuisine and Amy's Kitchen which are much better for you than the sodium-packed TV dinners your parents grew up on. Next time you grocery shop, don't forget to stock up on 2-minute microwave quinoa pouches, easy-steam veggies, and a few frozen dinners for emergencies (or for an easy BYO office lunch).
Understand and manage your sources of stress.
Stress has a huge impact on how you eat – and how your body deals with the food you put into it. That's why there's such thing as stress eating; when you're feeling anxious or nervous, you feel the urge to raise your serotonin levels in just about the easiest way possible – by nomming on something high in fat or sugar. That may help you feel better in the short term, but there are healthier, more sustainable ways to deal with stress – like talking to a friend, meditating, journaling, or seeking professional counseling.
I hope this list gave you some good ideas!! I definitely wanted to make it as much for my own benefit as everyone else's, because I've been kind of busy with stuff lately and so have not been eating as healthy as I'd like.
If only I made as much time for working out and eating healthy as I do for Vingling... eheheheh (^.^ );;