Back to School: A Beginner’s Guide to Eating Well in a Fast Paced Life
Life is busy. Working, cleaning, cooking, laundry, exercise, social events and more. Throw in kids and add play dates, sports, school programs and homework (just to name a few). We are all busy. When I talk with patients, these are barriers that keep them from eating healthy. But this doesn’t have to be the case. For most, this is the norm, less time for leisurely dinners and more eating on the go, in the car or not at all. It may take a bit of effort and time to eat healthier, but the results will be worth it. Stick to your goals by setting yourself up for success – organization, planning, and preparation!
It may be as simple as buying a different type of convenience food: pre-cut fruits and vegetables or individual portions of string cheese. Take it one step further and utilize your crockpot or try that frozen make-ahead meal you saved on Pinterest months ago. There are many ways to eat healthy on the run; you won’t know what works for your family until you try.
Before the busy week – set yourself up for success!
• Stock up on good-for-you (and quick) snacks: fruits, low-fat string cheese, Greek yogurt, whole grain crackers, lean beef jerky and vegetable slices.
• Keep bags of your snacks readily available for the whole family. (Huge time saver – think trail mix, cheese, and crackers, raw vegetables)
• Search the internet for easy make-ahead recipes. Make a few recipes and save cook time during the week.
Heading to a sporting event all night?
• Keep your eating on schedule: pack turkey wraps with apple slices for everyone. Your athlete can eat half the wrap before the game and the rest after.
• Bring a protein rich-snack like trail mix or chocolate skim milk; this will keep you full until you are able to eat dinner.
• Stay hydrated with sparkling water or water flavored with lemon to keep you away from the concession stand.
Going to a school program during your normal dinner time?
• Have a snack before you go. A Greek yogurt parfait with berries and rolled oats will provide you with sustained energy and an excellent source of calcium.
• Before the program, put chicken breasts, black beans, corn and taco seasoning into a crock pot. 4 hours later you can enjoy a chicken bowl for a late dinner.
Find yourself in the drive-thru?
• Go lean! Grilled chicken sandwich, plain or salad with grilled chicken or beans are protein-rich choices. Be mindful with your dressings and sauces.
• Eat like a kid – choosing a kid’s meal can save over 500 calories from the regular size meal.
• Choose your sides wisely – stick to fruit cups, baked potato, side salad or low-fat milk. They are vitamin-rich and low in calories. A medium French fry cup can have up to 400 calories!
Life is busy for most of us. Adapt to your busy schedule by having a plan in place. Stick to your goals by setting yourself up for success – organization, planning, and preparation!
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health, working in Oncology and Functional nutrition. Ellen helps patients improve nutrition habits during cancer treatment and beyond. She is a group fitness instructor at the CHI Health Lakeside Wellness Center and enjoys helping people of all fitness abilities be active. Ellen is passionate about helping patients improve their lives through nutrition, activity and stress management.