Making the time: Nutrition and Meal Prep
Written by: Heather Gerrish, RDN
How do we maximize our nutrition while still staying on track with life? How do we manage eating well and balancing our work/school/social life? Is it possible? Yes!
It might take a little planning and a lot of patience, but it’s worth it to make the time for you and your health.
Sometimes it is difficult to manage eating well and a busy work or school schedule, but by planning out a few meals and snacks for the week and taking into consideration the unique variables that influence your nutrition decisions - you can make it happen! This blog will provide you with some tips and trick - resourced directly from your TLAG Teammates on how to best ensure that you are maintaining your goals and reaching them - while balancing work, your social life, school and so many other activities that keep us busy and on our toes.
In general, taking a step back and looking at your schedule with the mind-frame of opportunity vs. feeling overwhelmed is tough, especially when balancing multiple schedules and your own personal health goals - but know that from time to time priorities change, and at this time your priority is YOU and your health so making the time and focusing on how you can create a reasonable schedule to accommodate your goals should be at the top of your “to do” list.
These are a few tips gathered from the Team that they use to best include their personal goals within their professional schedules:
Take a look at your schedule and determine when and where your breaks will occur, would it be possible to sneak in a snack? A quick smoothie? Apple? Pb Sandwich? Anything at all? Taking a look at your schedule outside of when you are physically working is the key to analyze and think critically about how you are going to make this work - it’s a VITAL step in making sure you are meeting and reaching towards your nutrition goals. Set a timer or reminder to drink water/snack - make an appointment with yourself, talk with your supervisor/coworkers - your health is important! Taking a step back and doing some planning can help you tremendously in the long run, both in sustaining your energy levels throughout the day and with meeting your health and fitness goals long term.
Smoothies in the morning? You betcha! (Have ingredients ready to go or pre-blend smoothies and freeze in ice cube trays - blend and go!, Prep and pack meals/snacks the night before and put a reminder to grab them out of the fridge before you leave (we have all done that before - packed a healthy lunch and completely forgot it while running out the door!)
Create a “Snack Stash” of Healthy, “Go To” Items:
Whole cut fruit
Cheese//individual cheese sticks or squares
Whole grain crackers
Carrots and hummus
Applesauce (individual or portioned)
Whole grain crackers
Peanut Butter (individual packs or portion your own)
Making main items ahead of time is a HUGE weekday time saver. Although it can be a little bit of a time commitment, think about how amazing you will feel when you get home and realize you have a healthy, balanced dinner waiting for you with minimal prep and time to prepare! Also, making larger batches and freezing certain items (rice, chicken, vegetables) can help with longer term prep and planning. Make sure to follow proper food safety guidelines for cooling and storing (one of my favorite topics!) and thank your future self for being so time aware and prepared!
Putting it All Together
Starting with a base and determining where these changes can occur is ultimately step 1. The next process is to think about what change is most feasible and sustainable for you both short and long term (focus on one at a time). The final step is to implement and create change, see how this new method goes - what could you do differently? What did you like about the change, or dislike?
Nothing needs to happen overnight, or as an overhaul. If you are feeling overwhelmed with your schedule and your health goals - take a step back and see what you can do to slowly and in small steps change certain items, goals, meals/snacks etc to accommodate your life and ensure that you are progressing along to create your unique, nutrition practice!