Yesterday was all about finding time. Today is about eating well when we are struggling with time, which is EVERYDAY for most people. I’m thinking of you.
No time to eat right
If you are going to tell me that you and your family cannot eat well because you have no time, you are not alone. Yes it’s easier to grab a drive-thru meal and toss it about the car than it is to go to the store at the last minute, think about what’s healthy, think about what everyone will eat, think about what’s on sale, go home, make it and sit down and eat it as a family. I will agree with that. But, if you plan ahead and make a bit extra when you do have time to cook and throw it in the fridge or freezer you are doing yourself a favor. It’s a whole lot easier to boil some whole wheat pasta and toss it with some good leftover protein, frozen veggies and your favorite sauce. It’s markedly tastier, healthier and more conducive to family time. You don’t have to be slaving over the stove for this and your family can be doing something a bit productive for the 10 minutes it’s going to take for you to make the meal. You’ll be able to sit at the table and look each other in the eye while you eat instead of checking in the rearview mirror to see if the kids are sharing the fries fairly.
If you are going to have to compromise, throw a thin crust cheese pizza in the oven. While you are at it put some broccoli florets on a cookie sheet with olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Bake them all at the same time and you’ll have a yummy and healthier dinner option. My family loves broccoli this way and I challenge you to eat the same amount of pizza you always do after eating one cup or so of this awesome side dish. IMPOSSIBLE! You will be too full and completely satisfied.
There are going to be those days when even this is too much to ask of yourself and your family. Just aim to keep those days to a minimum. In the end you’ll see that when you get where ever you are rushing to, you will all feel better and do better with your tummies full of “real” good food instead of fake fast food.
Check out the blog “Eat this… “. It doesn’t take any more time to put whole wheat bread in the cart than it does to put in a loaf of white bread. Shop differently and you’ll eat differently. This is truly an example of just shifting what you already do. You are already going to the supermarket so take the time to be mindful of what is going in the cart. The first few times might take a bit longer as you read labels and get familiar with produce and lean proteins. No worries though. You will find your family will have favorite foods, you’ll get faster at scanning labels, and you’ll be more confident in knowing how to combine foods into your most convenient and healthy meals and snacks. Shop with meals and snacks in mind. Don’t just throw stuff in the cart and think it’s going to magically turn into something. Plan and you will not be running out for that lemon you forgot.
Eating on the run is a daunting undertaking. For those of you who are trapped in a vehicle or just out and about for a good part of the day with no time to eat well, I feel very bad for you. Fortunately, along with pity, I have some ideas for you as well. First of all, make sure you eat. Don’t just throw your hands up and say you don’t have time to eat. Pack, pack, pack.
- Find a couple of small coolers to keep in the car. Use one for keeping cold, reusable water bottles or low fat/skim milk bottles and snacks. Use the other for meals.
- Think ahead and make single portioned snack bags of nuts, dried fruit, and whole grain cereals/crackers/pretzels. Try mixing them up to make your own trail mix.
- Single serving bags of baby carrots, snap peas, sweet pepper strips, cucumber slices and other veggies are great when kept cold.
- If you like to dip then be sure to have some hummus, peanut butter, or yogurt for your dipping pleasure.
- Keep some apples, bananas, pears or oranges close by as well.
- There are great options for single servings of cheese – string cheese, cheese sticks, and baby rounds of cheese.
- On Sunday, boil a dozen eggs. Pack one or two of these a day and you’ll be able to face the daily grind a bit easier.
- Keep in mind that you are eating in a vehicle or over your lap at least so don’t make something that requires a plate, knife and a fork. Also, a sandwich that is falling all over your lap is an equally bad idea. Think portable and delicious. Wraps, simple sandwiches made from your left over dinner, pasta salad, and a thermos of soup or stew are all good alternatives.
- Plan to eat every three hours so you don’t find yourself weak and cranky and pulling into a drive-thru twitching for the fix to get you through the rest of the afternoon.
- Do yourself a favor and pack a couple of small dark chocolate squares. You deserve a bit of a treat every so often. Don’t over-do it and don’t deprive yourself.
Clearly you don’t have to pack ALL of this every day. I’m just giving you loads of options.
- To increase your chances of actually packing every day, do your portioning out of snack bags all at once. Keep them all together so you can grab refrigerated items and pantry items quickly without having to root around to come up with something.
This strategy is something our family practices throughout our beloved wrestling season. Every Sunday we spend hours on end in various gymnasiums for tournaments surrounded by foil wrapped hot dogs, licorice by the foot, and round chips with neon yellow “cheese”. We come packed like we’re staying for a week, but this saves us money and our waistlines. Our kids are not above asking for a donut or a candy bar. They can have one. They just can’t have one and another and another. They eat what we bring and we often share with other curious wrestlers who want to know if sugar snap peas indeed taste like sugar. The answer was always “no”, but they sure kept eating them until they were gone. If you bring it, they will eat it. You may not be trapped in a gymnasium. It might be a delivery truck, an ice skating rink, a soccer field, an office building, a construction site, a school, a theater, the salon or …. Our lives don’t always allow for easy food choices throughout the day. It is up to you to make it easy for yourself and your family.
Part 3 is coming soon with ideas for fitness/stress reduction.
Until next time…Live Well! –Toni Kuhel