Fitting in eating well and exercising around a busy lifestyle can be difficult. If you don’t feel you have time to touch the ground, let alone think about what to eat, it can feel like an impossible task to make the right choices.
I see it a little differently and I’m going to explain in two parts. Today, about the food, and next week about exercise.
I think we can look at being busy and not having time to think about food as a potential positive. If you’re sitting at home all day and just trying not to eat the biscuits which you can hear calling you from the cupboard, you’ve got a big (impossible?) job to keep your willpower up enough to avoid them.
If you’re out and about being busy, you have less time and inclination to think about food, and while at the minute, that’s leading you to mindlessly grab something easy and perhaps not all that conducive to either your health or weight loss, we can use one easy strategy to turn your food-autopilot into a positive.
Enter the menu plan.
I know. You haven’t got time to plan a menu.
Think about it for a second though. You are already making a mental plan when you go to the supermarket – at least for breakfast and dinner – not to mention that in reality you probably only cook from a repertoire of a few meals for a normal evening anyway, so this doesn’t have to be a huge task. We’re talking 10 minutes on your slower day of the week, or you could even do it as ideas pop into your head as you’re rushing round the supermarket.
And you do want to see changes in your body. 10 minutes of thinking is going to give you a good return!
Lunch is the one which needs a little more focus, because its a quick snack you’re grabbing while you’re out and about being busy. It’s also where your nutrition for the day can quickly go off the rails – eating the wrong thing and finding yourself tired, or craving sweet things all afternoon can lead to an easy derailment and disappointment when you stand on the scales!
The beauty of planning a menu is that you can do it alongside your diary for the week. If you know you’re going to be home for lunch on Monday and Tuesday, eating out on Wednesday and pushed for time on Thursday, you can plan accordingly and completely avoid falling off the rails.
Are you having lunch at home, or taking a packed lunch to work? If so, think through what protein and what veg you’re going to have, and make sure you have enough to last you for the week. Always base your lunch on protein and veg – vegetable and chicken soup, prawns / tuna / cottage cheese and avocado, a mushroom omelette, etc – and make sure you always have emergency ingredients in stock, just in case. I always have avocados in the fridge, and I’ve taken to buying tins of sardines to keep in the cupboard, so I’ve always got a quick, easy, healthy lunch to have, even if everything else in my day has gone wrong!
Are you buying lunch out? If so, think through where you usually go and when you’re looking at the options, again, go for protein and veg based options. If you’re looking at a salad, for example, make an honest assessment about whether its going to be enough to keep you going until dinner. If you don’t think it is, get something to have on the side. A little portion of soup or one of the small protein pots which seem to be available in lots of take-away lunch shops now. Don’t just choose a sandwich instead.
Do you need something to eat on the move? Again – protein and veg will win the day. And if you’ve spent a little time planning, you’ll know you could have some pieces of chicken, sliced boiled egg or prawns, and some veggie sticks on the move really easily.
The difference a plan can make to losing weight alongside a busy life is amazing. The simple act of having good food available and just eating what you’ve planned for today can add up to a surprising bit of weight loss by the end of the week.
I’d be delighted to hear how you get on!