There’s no secret it can be challenging to find the time and energy to prepare healthy meals and snacks for yourself when you’re always on the run.
Meal prep and healthy eating is not always achievable or realistic, especially for parents who are juggling school drop-offs, career commitments, relationships, and the expectation to ‘bounce back’ quickly after starting a family.
However, it is important to prioritise your own health and ensure you get the right nutrition to fuel your mind and body for your daily activities.
With that in mind, here are five tips for healthy eating while balancing a busy schedule.
1. Get the whole family involved
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a chore. Get the whole family involved in planning, shopping and preparing meals together where possible. This can be a fun and rewarding way to spend time with your loved ones while also promoting healthy eating habits. The likelihood of having time to plan, shop and prep meals on a day-to-day basis is low, so carving out time to plan ahead for the week is likely your best bet.
While we can try, it might be unrealistic to expect that every day and every meal will go as planned for the week – so building in some tried and trusted recipes which are fast, but fresh will still help to support a higher nutrient intake will in turn, help you avoid temptation to grab fast food or order take out when you’re pressed for time.
2. Get good nutrition, easily
It’s not all on you to think about the nutritional value of each meal and the shopping list of ingredients you need. Lean on foods that have been recommended by dietitians and pre-prepared or pre-chopped to claim back that thinking time. Adding veggies to meals for a nutrient boost could not be easier these days with a plethora of veg now being available in pre-sliced packs which don’t require any prep.
It’s important to know that healthy eating doesn’t mean restrictive dieting, avoiding certain foods or limiting intake. Healthy eating means eating a variety of foods that are rich in nutrients (you can eat carbs!).
I’ve designed My Muscle Chef’s new low-calorie range with a team of dieticians and chefs to help Australians manage weight and health goals in a sustainable way, focused on providing nutrient-dense rather than restrictive or bland meals.
3. Make healthy swaps (until they don’t even feel like swaps)
When you’re short on time, it can be tempting to reach for convenient snacks or fast food. However, making small swaps can make a big difference. For example, swap out sugary drinks for naturally flavoured sparkling waters or kombucha, and opt for whole-grain sourdough bread instead of white bread.
There will be nights when you just can’t fathom cooking. Instead of panicking and ordering unhealthy takeaway, keep a few fresh ready-made meals in the fridge per week. If you haven’t planned ahead for the week, My Muscle Chef’s range of ready meals is available through grocery delivery apps and, and depending on your location, can be at your door at the same time as a delivery from the local takeaway shop.
These small changes can add up over time and help you maintain a healthy diet.
4. Don’t skip meals
Skipping meals may seem like a time-saver, but it can actually backfire by making you feel sluggish and irritable. Make sure to eat regularly throughout the day to keep your energy levels up. This will help you stay focused and productive, even during the busiest of days.
Restricting your intake or skipping meals can also play into weight gain, making us more likely to reach for fast, unhealthy options as we get hungry, or causing us to overeat later in the day when typical our energy expenditure is lower.
5. Keep healthy snacks on hand
Try as we might, there are some days where stopping to eat breakfast or lunch just doesn’t happen.
Having healthy snacks on hand when you’re on the go will go a long way to helping you reach your daily nutrition needs. Some great options include fresh fruit, nuts and seeds, veggie sticks with hummus, and yoghurt pouches. If you’re out and about with no snacks on hand, choose pre-prepared fruit or a protein packed snack from the grocery store, over a coffee stop or drive-through pit-stop.
Protein shakes can also be a great on-the-go option. My Muscle Chef’s range of snacks and drinks, including protein yoghurts, oat slices, cookies, muffins and protein bites, will help you stay full and energised throughout the day.
Most importantly, give yourself a break! Small changes can add up over time, so taking it step by step is a sustainable way to set, and keep, new healthy eating habits.
By planning ahead, making healthy swaps, keeping healthy snacks on hand, not skipping meals, and getting the whole family involved, you can maintain a healthy diet and feel your best. For more information on fresh, ready-made meals visit My Muscle Chef.
Ryan Pinto, is an Advanced Sports Dietitian and Performance Nutritionist, and My Muscle Chef’s Head of Research & Development and Innovation. Working alongside My Muscle Chef’s in-house chefs, food technologists and dietitian team, Ryan is responsible for developing new product ranges that provide high-quality, nutrient-dense and great tasting food for Australians, every day.
My Muscle Chef takes a sustainable approach to weight loss, aiming to help customers understand and establish healthy eating habits, and ‘live their best lives’.
As an experienced dietitian, Ryan speaks to the importance of nutrient- dense food, food and cuisine trends, and how to eat based on lifestyle, health status, and nutritional preferences.We may get commissions for purchases made using links in this post. Learn more.