Eating food that is delicious and good for you sounds like a wonderful plan, but sometimes it seems like an unattainable goal.
When your time is limited and cooking is low on your list of things to do, nutritious eating can feel like something that you can’t do on your own.
It would be nice to have a home chef to make it easier to eat well when you just don’t have the time to focus on cooking. Until your dreams of having a personal chef become reality, you can make some changes to make a healthy diet part of your busy life.
Here are a few things you can try to elevate your nutrition at home and on the go:
Eat healthy at restaurants
It might take a little bit of time to make the adjustment at first, but you can eat well even when you decide to eat out. Finding healthy options could mean that you need to find another restaurant, or it may just be a matter of taking a closer look at the menu. Take the time to look at the nutritional information and find out what is in your food. It is easy to choose a meal that seems healthy — like a salad — and miss the ingredients that are detrimental, such as heavy dressings. Pick items that are prepared with less fat, and choose lighter sides rather than French fries or onion rings.
“If you don’t have time to cook and eat out more often than not, you can still make healthy choices,” says Elcio Zanatta, CEO of Aubergine and Company. “Skip the added sugars and saturated fat and pick menu options featuring fresh food like you would make at home.”
Make wise substitutions
Small substitutions, at home and at restaurants, will add up in no time. Finding different options can help you cut back on bad fats in your food, sometimes eliminating hundreds of calories from the meal. Some easy substitutions are a cup of fruit rather than French fries or baked chips instead of fried. Broth soups are a good choice over cream-based soups, and a chicken patty is a healthy replacement for a cheeseburger.
Restock your pantry and fridge
It’s hard to eat well when you have tasty but unhealthy foods at arm’s reach. If you want to change the way you eat, you need to give yourself good options that you can grab anytime. When you’re running out the door in the morning and want to grab a quick snack to keep you going through the day, having healthy food on hand will make a world of difference. Stock your fridge with fruit, yogurt and cut-up vegetables that will be ready when you need them. Fill the pantry with snacks that will fill you up without packing on the calories. Popcorn, jerky, granola bars and nuts are good, fast options with loads of nutrition.
The key to a healthy diet is preparation, especially when you don’t have much time to spare. Plan your meals and snacks at the beginning of the week when you might have a few extra moments to prepare a few days’ worth of food. Double or triple a recipe and save portions in the fridge or freezer for another day when you can’t cook. Chop fruits and vegetables or cook meat so you can skip the prep work on busy days.
Eating right when you’re short on time can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to. Make some little changes to the way you eat and prepare your food to make a healthy diet your reality.
A version of this article was published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.