Poor nutrition is a widespread problem in the US — 19% of young people (between 2 and 19 years old) and 40% of adults are obese, which increases their risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers, according to the CDC. Busy lifestyles are a prime reason for unhealthy diets. When you’re preoccupied with work, school or family, healthy eating becomes less of a priority. But adjusting your lifestyle to fit in quick and healthy meals can ensure you stay on top of your health despite your busy schedule.
When you’re in a rush in the morning, it’s easy to skip breakfast. However, studies show people who don’t eat breakfast tend to have a higher BMI. Breakfast kickstarts your metabolism, leaves you less prone to reaching for unhealthy fatty or sugary snacks during the day, and helps you reach the recommended fruit and vegetable intake. Eating breakfast doesn’t have to be time-consuming. For example, pair Greek yogurt and berries with a quick banana, spinach and coconut water smoothie. Additionally, drinking a simple glass of hot water with the lemon first thing will boost your metabolism and digestion after fasting all night long. Vitamin C also works to strengthen your immune system and brain, as well as relieving inflammation and hydrating the body.
Opt for a light lunch
Lunch can be a tricky meal; busy workers are likely to opt for unhealthy take out, pre-made snacks, or calorie-laden business lunches, which, over time, can lead to weight gain and health complications. Packing your own lunch is the easiest way to ensure you consume a nutritious and energy-boosting meal come midday. It also gives you total control over the ingredients and stops you from overeating. A salad is the easiest lunch to prepare: pair green leaves with protein (like beans or tinned fish) along with a side of light carbs (crackers with hummus or low-fat pretzels, for example). Avoid using fatty dressings, and make your own with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar and a dash of olive oil.
Create a meal plan
Take the time to put together a healthy meal plan every weekend before a busy week. Create a list of quick and nutritionally-dense meals, and stock your kitchen with essential staples. For example, frozen vegetables, tinned beans, instant brown rice, wholewheat bread, pre-washed salad bags, instant oats, yogurt and hard-boiled eggs are some easy options for meals and snacks. Food subscription boxes can also be an affordable way to try different healthy foods each month with minimal time and hassle. You’ll be able to choose different, easy-to-follow recipes and have the fresh ingredients delivered straight to your door. Prep work is minimal, and you can create a variety of delicious healthy meals to suit your tastes and dietary preferences.
Eating a healthy diet while maintaining a busy schedule doesn’t have to be difficult. Focus on planning quick and easy nutritious meals, and you’ll benefit from more energy, weight loss and better health.