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Eating healthy even when you're busy


August 16, 2017 | View PDF

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Making a few simple changes can help ensure that you an your family are eating healthy even when you are busy and on the go.

As we head back to school and the fall weather sets in, we will be thinking of how to eat healthy while being busy. The most common reasons I hear for people choosing unhealthy meals are "I'm too busy to cook," "I'm too stressed to think about meal planning," and "Which diet plan do I follow?" I also hear that it is cheaper to eat fast food. Here are some tips for how to eat healthy on the go.

Meal planning, this is a definite way to be successful, pick one day of the week and plan all of your meals, buy exactly what you will need at the grocery store. Invest in a meal planning calendar, this will let you write in every week exactly what you have planned to eat each day. Stock up on crunchy fresh veggie snacks, these are low calorie and decrease stress hormones like cortisol just from the crunch! Limit eating out to 2 times per week or less (including lunch), this prevents eating extra calories and saves money. While eating out, choose modified options like tomatoes or a salad instead of potatoes/fries. Ask for things boiled or steamed versus sauteed in butter/oil. It is a good idea to split the meal and bring half for the lunch the next day. Also, just skip the bread plate and alcohol, this will just add extra calories. Balsamic vinegar makes a great alternative to a creamy dressing. Using chicken broth or water for cooking instead of oil cuts a tom of calories.

Some other tips include substituting healthy "vices" for unhealthy ones. For example, if you like to come home and drink a glass of wine at night, go out and talk a walk instead. I challenge you to write down 3 things weekly you can change that will add to your health. Substitute fruit instead of dessert, or keep some dark chocolate in the freezer when you get a sugar craving. While ordering coffee, try getting less pumps of flavor or choosing nonfat milk or a dairy alternative. Try turning off the TV and join a gym or a fun social hobby. Socializing with others is a great stress reliever, it also improves mood.

It is important to keep your blood sugar balanced throughout the day with high quality protein and fiber, avoid the sugar and simple refined carbohydrates. A quality snack may include an egg, turkey and cheese rollup, almonds, or some chicken breast. If your snack comes from a box or a bag, could it be fresh or healthy? How long did it sit on the shelf for? Make your own trail mix, smoothie, or try a new recipe for "kale chips." Signs of imbalanced blood sugar include mood changes, fatigue, dizziness etc. This is also a very common reason for kids who get very irritable during the day. Try not to go longer than 3 hours without a protein snack. Breakfast is very important to eat as well, because at this time of day the body is ready for food and the metabolism needs a kickstart. Fiber is found in most whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It is the easiest way to fill up on food without adding extra calories. Fiber tricks the stomach and gives it a stretch so your body thinks it is full, it also helps regulate bowels and is good for the heart. Most Americans only get 25 percent of their daily recommended intake of fiber.

The last tip is to treat your body like you care. I really think part of healthy choices and healthy living is to love yourself from the inside out. Fuel your body with the vitamins it needs to have energy, just like the gas in your car, you wouldn't fill it up with empty air. Pass on your healthy habits to your kids, they are always watching and listening, healthy habits are contagious.

Overall, I think that if you can find an hour per week to meal plan it will lead to success. Replace that TV time with exercise, and get out and be social. All of these things will improve mood, energy, and weight naturally for you and your family.

Dr. Allison Apfelbaum is a Naturopathic Doctor at The Northwest Center for Optimal Health in Marysville, WA, located at 316 State Ave. in Marysville, WA. Contact us at 360-651-9355 (WELL) or


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