Eating well can be a real challenge when you’re busy juggling work deadlines, chauffeuring kids or otherwise scrambling to get through a long day. You may be tempted to skip meals, but that will likely lead to overeating later. Or you might consider picking up some fast food, but that often means loading up on excess calories and bad fats.
Still, a crazy schedule doesn’t make eating right impossible. And good nutrition is all the more vital if you’re constantly on the go, since your body requires a steady stream of energy that only good-for-you foods can provide. Studies show that maintaining normal blood sugar levels by eating balanced meals every five hours or less helps your brain function better. And eating healthfully doesn’t have to be overly time-consuming.
Here are three demanding real-life situations — and strategies for getting the nutrition you need fast.
The Morning Rush: Have to rush out the door to be on time? You can still pull something healthful out of the hat.
Sow your oats: Oatmeal provides plenty of fiber, as well as calcium and protein when mixed with nonfat milk. Keep ready-to-microwave packets or cups of instant oatmeal on hand to whip up in the morning.
Be cheesy: It doesn’t take long to make a cheese quesadilla, which is packed with calcium and protein. Simply sprinkle some low-fat cheese between two whole-wheat tortillas and microwave until melted (less than one minute).
Grab a Peanut Butter and Jelly: A perfect balance of protein, good fat and carbs, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a busy woman’s dream energy meal — plus it travels well and requires no refrigeration. Choose a real-fruit preserve or sugar-free jam.
The Daily Commute: You’ve literally got to eat on the run? You can still get the nutrition you need!
Slurp a smoothie: Homemade or store-bought, smoothies are quick and healthy mini-meals. Plus, you can easily stick one in your car’s cup holder. To make a homemade smoothie, mix 1 cup frozen peach slices, 1/2 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a blender until smooth (210 calories and 9 grams of protein).
The best store-bought smoothies contain fresh fruit and an added shot of protein; they usually run about 400 calories.
Desk Dining: You don’t have time to leave the office, but you need sustenance to keep going. We’ve got solutions.
Graze away: The key to sneaking in a healthful snack at work is including something from each of these three categories: protein, carbohydrate and plant food.
Examples of balanced eats: a cup of bean soup (protein), wheat crackers (carb) and raisins (plant); low-fat yogurt (protein), a banana (plant) and dried soybeans (carb and protein); or prepackaged peanut butter and crackers (carb and protein), string cheese (protein) and dried fruit (plant).
Grab a java: A nonfat latte is high in calcium and offers a decent amount of protein and carbohydrates, too. If you prefer it flavored, request sugar-free syrup. Beware of fancy coffee drinks, however, since some contain the calories and fat content of an entire meal, especially if you opt for regular milk and whipped cream.
For example, a grande White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks has 480 calories and 20 grams of fat — the equivalent of a Quarter Pounder!