Updated: May 31
The most common excuse I hear for not eating better or getting consistent exercise is, “I don’t have time.”
I get it, you’re busy. But the truth is if we wait until have more time, well, we could be waiting a long, long time.
While lack of time can be a common excuse for living on convenience food and relying on the drive thru, you deserve to feel and function your best too.
The good news is you can totally rock healthy habits, without needing MORE time.
And to help you get started, here are 5 tips that make eating better easier, even when you're super busy and in a time crunch!
Tip #1: Be Prepared.
When you’re crazy-busy, the simplest way to guarantee you'll stick to your eat better goals is planning and preparation. It takes the same amount of time to unwrap a banana and a hard boiled egg as it does to unwrap a pop-tart or grab a donut from the coffee shop.
Of course, the pop-tart and coffee shop drive thru seems easier because it’s always there. This means that your job is the make sure that the banana and hard boiled egg are always there too. You're already spending time shopping for and purchasing food, so why not use that time to set you up for success by purchasing healthy staples that make eating better easier?
Schedule a bit of time on the weekend (or whatever day works best with your schedule) to do your grocery shopping for the week. If you don’t like cooking, buy a rotisserie chicken, bag of salad greens, some pre cut and washed fruits and veggies, hummus or another fun dip, and BOOM. You've got the fixings for snacks and a variety of meals ready to go!
Tip #2: Make A List Of Simple Go-To Meals.
Most people tend to eat the same few meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It makes life easier!
Personally, each morning I start my day with a mug of warm water and squeeze in half a fresh lemon, add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and sip. Then I whip up one of my favorite go-to breakfasts: protein peanut butter toast with a side of fruit, apple cinnamon overnight oats, veggie egg scramble, or a seasonal fruit smoothie.
What are your quick and easy go-to meals? Create a list of your own that can easily be made and eaten - even when you're feeling tired, stressed or overwhelmed. By having these healthy go-to options in your back pocket, you'll take the guesswork out of what's for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and create simple and sustainable food habits.
Tip #3: Make It Mobile.
During a busy week a simple way to reduce the amount of take-out, cafeteria food, and restaurant trips, is by packing your own lunch. When you prepare your own food, you're 100% in charge of the ingredients, which puts you in the drivers seat of your food choices!
And there are all sorts of fun and functional soft coolers these days, so you can pack it and keep it cool for the car or office if you don't have access to a fridge.
Not ready to brown bag it? Plan ahead what your order will be. For my clients that are often on the road driving from location to location, we come up with a few simple non-perishable snacks they can have with them in the car and create a short list of places they know they can go for a quick, simple and nutritious lunch.
Whether it's hitting a grocery store for some quick grab-and-go items, knowing a couple of restaurants with options they can feel good about, or which cafeterias along their stops have the best options for them, it saves them from the dreaded afternoon crash that often comes from either A) skipping lunch because they're "too busy to eat", or B) eating foods that aren't going to support their energy needs and are often loaded with added sugars, salt and other gunk that won't leave them feeling or functioning their best.
Tip #4: Know Thy Restaurants.
Even with great intentions and planning, an unscheduled dining out experience can quickly sideline your eat better goals. Maybe your boss invited you to chat over lunch or a friend or business associate popped into town and wants to meet for lunch somewhere off site.
Thankfully, most restaurants today have at least a few healthy options on their menus. And if you don’t see something that fits your eat better plan, don’t be shy: ask them to prepare something. You’re the boss! Over the years I've learned if the ingredients exist on the menu, they'll usually have no problem throwing that healthy request together for you.
Need some added eat-out help? Check out the free app called Healthy Out. Type in your zip code and it will list nearby restaurants with menu suggestions. All the nutritional information is at your fingertips to help you make your next best choice.
Tip #5: Don’t Give Up.
The first week or two of planning may take you a bit longer, but once you get into a rhythm, you’ll save time, money and calories. If you find yourself in a situation where there aren't a ton of healthy options, you can still score a win by being mindful of your portion sizes and look for your good, better, and best options. And remember: you don't need to get it perfect in order to make healthy progress!
Bottom Line: eating better can be done with a bit of planning and preparation. Personally I never leave the house without a snack size bag of unsalted nuts or a piece of fruit because when I get hungry, I know I have to eat. Otherwise I turn into a cranky two-year old who wants to kick and scream, running for the first bag of chips I can wolf down. Trust me, the hangries are brutal, so I try to avoid them at all costs.
Are you tired of starting over every Monday, hopping from diet to diet, wondering if you'll ever get it "right" so that you can lose the weight and become the best version of you? I’ve got you friend! Come join me inside my FREE women’s-only Facebook community: Eat Better with Coach Mindy. It's for busy women like you who are ready to lose weight, gain energy, get healthy and fit -- without restrictive diets or punishing food rules.